While much has been written over the years about male blues singers of the first half of the 20th century, little attention has been paid to blueswomen. These women used their songs to proclaim their pain or to speak up and protest unfair conditions and discrimination. Through their songs, they expressed a desire for freedom and equality in a time when women were almost universally subjugated.
The 37 women profiled here are representative of the many blueswomen who performed in the United States through the end of World War II. Some are well known (e.g., Lucille Bogan and Sippie Wallace), but many are obscure (such as Lil Johnson, Liza Brown and Margaret Whitmire). Biographical profiles are followed by a sampling of the performers' lyrics.