Dave Grohl once described young British drummer Nandi Bushell as “a force of nature.” If you’ve ever seen any of the epic drum battles between Grohl and Bushell, you’ll likely agree that in the category of natural forces, Bushell is a hurricane that has unquestionably made even the gods of rock exclaim, “Damn!” Yet Grohl’s description easily goes beyond Bushell. As the evidence shows, “force of nature” describes hundreds (if not thousands) of female rock musicians dialing it to 11 around the world.

Said another way: In a world that often wonders where all the female rockers are, they’re right here.

female musicians - RCS Music News Weekly

Alizee Defan answers the question, “Where are all the female shredders?”

If you’ve ever wondered where all the female guitar shredders are, they’re all over the world. Check out Alizee Defan’s rockin’ video The Best Damn Female Guitarists the World Has to Offer for face-melting performance clips by:

  • Cissie Goumare (The Netherlands)
  • Tina S (France)
  • Juliana Vieira (Brazil)
  • Laura Lace (Latvia)
  • Sophie Lloyd (England)
  • Sylvya Boschiero (Italy)
  • Ayu Gusfanz (Indonesia)
  • Laura Cox (France)
  • Nita Strauss (U.S.)
  • Alexandra Zerner (Bulgaria)
  • Katona Renáta (Hungary)
  • Olga Goreva (Russia)

For more amazing female guitarists from around the world, visit Alizee Defan’s YouTube channel.

Nikoleta - female drummer

14-year-old Nikoleta nails it playing “Tom Sawyer”

Air-drumming the Rush classic “Tom Sawyer” is hard enough. (RCS Music News Weekly can attest to this.) Playing the song for real is even harder. Yet 14-year-old Czech drummer Nikoleta nails “Tom Sawyer” with a precision touching the Neil Peart-mosphere. Moreover, Nikoleta plays with a sheer, honest joy that makes any drummer engaging to watch, according to her 50,000+ YouTube subscribers.

Ellen - female bass player

9-year-old bassist also nails it playing “Tom Sawyer”

For any aspiring bassist who believes they can’t master the bottom end because their hands are too small, commenter KH sums it up in a YouTube comment: “Well there goes the ‘I can’t play bass because my hands are too small’ argument,” evidenced by 9-year-old bass playing phenom Ellen. Though her hands are small, she slickly lays down Geddy Lee’s bass line with an inspiring exuberance. As another commenter writes on Ellen’s YouTube channel, “Oh my gosh, so bright, lively, alive, joy-filled. Every musician needs to seek this space.”

Sina - female drummer

20-year-old Sina rocks “Dance with the Devil”

In a tribute to the late English rock drummer Cozy Powell (Black Sabbath, Jeff Beck), 20-year-old German drummer Sina rocks the Powell classic “Dance with the Devil.” As one of many covers and originals found on her YouTube channel sina-drums (which includes a staggeringly great cover of the Safaris’ classic “Wipe Out”), Sina also offers drum tutorials on her website.

Sina is also a frequent collaborator with other artists, including Guelph’s own Mikalyn Hay, who collaborated with Sina in 2019 for “Bury a Friend” (Billie Eilish cover).

Meytal Cohen - RCS Music News Weekly

Drummer Meytal Cohen Also Touches the Neil Peart-mosphere

Where playing “Tom Sawyer” seems to have become something of a favorite challenge and measurement for drummers, Israeli-American drummer Meytal Cohen gives a performance of the Rush classic that even Barney Stinson would call legen… wait for it… dary. As one commenter writes, “After being so fortunate to see Rush play this several times, I must say I can close my eyes and listen to this and this is how it was.”

The above female musicians only represent a drop in the bucket of today’s incredible musical talent, meaning RCS Music News Weekly would have to write a stupidly large set of encyclopedias to include them all. Yet I think you get the gist.

Viola Smith - RCS Music News Weekly

The Trailblazers

  • Viola Smith

Once known as “America’s fastest drummer girl,” Viola Smith actively played drums until she was age 106, leading one Bored Panda writer to say, “Musicians rejoice! Because legendary percussionist Viola Smith may have discovered the secret for a long and healthy life: energetic drumming and the moderate consumption of good wine.” Born in 1912, Smith is remembered as the centerpiece drummer for the all-girl swing band The Coquettes and drumming chops that match Gene Krupa or Buddy Rich.

See for yourself in this classic clip from 1939 featuring The Coquettes playing “Snake Charmer.”

  • Karen Carpenter

Primarily remembered as the singer for The Carpenters, Karen Carpenter came out of the gate as an impressive singer-drummer, evidenced by this clip of 18-year-old Carpenter playing a fast, jazz-influenced version of “Dancing in the Street” on Your All-American College Show. (Her solo, though, quick, is stunning.)

  • Shiela E.

Commonly called the Queen of Percussion, Sheila E. began her career in the mid-1970s as percussionist and singer for The George Duke Band. Known for her long association with Prince, Sheila E. was one of the earliest female drummers to become a household name for her versatility and staggering solos, evidenced in this 1987 drum solo courtesy of Drummerworld.

How many more female trailblazing musicians are there in the vaunted halls of rock?

The short answer is many and unknown. The music industry of yester-yore typically placed female musicians in the category of novelty, quaintness, or anomaly, and as the BBC recently pointed out, many like guitarist Memphis Minnie, band leader Ivy Benson, and saxophonist Lora Logic didn’t get the recognition they deserved. Yet however the old guard ignored female musicians, their self-imposed blindness could not denude a force of nature that has always been there and today is thankfully making itself known on a storm scale that cannot be dismissed as a drop of rain.

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RCS Music News Weekly was created during COVID in the spirit of “we’re all in this together.” And we’re certainly hoping to continue this spirit post-COVID to keep everyone in the loop about what’s happening at RCS and locally, as well as national and international music news stories of interest.