Posted by: bluesyemre | March 20, 2022

Celebrating 20 Female Blues & Rock Guitarists

Photo: Bonnie Raitt (Ken Friedman), Ana Popovic, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Nita Strauss (Money Shotz Photography), guitarists

By Martine Ehrenclou

 In honor of Women’s History Month, it’s time to shine the spotlight on some extremely talented female guitarists. Many are accomplished vocalists, songwriters and multi-instrumentalists as well. Since female guitarists aren’t featured as prominently as men because there are fewer of them, it’s important to highlight a few extraordinary guitar players who happen to be women.

Each one includes information, a video and a link to the artist’s website. The list is not in any particular order. It is also not a complete list as there are so many great female musicians past and present that all of them simply could not be included. Your suggestions are welcomed.

If you’re interested in ‘Women Who Shaped the Blues’ see the article here. 

Bonnie Raitt
More than a bestselling artist and highly respected blues, roots, Americana guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, Bonnie Raitt is an institution in American music. She is also a ten-time Grammy Award winner, won the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Her 17thth album, Dig in Deep, was released in 2016 and earned her a nomination for “Artist of the Year” at the 2016 Americana Music Honors and Awards. Bonnie is one of America’s favorite female musicians. Raitt’s new album, Just Like That.. is set to release April 22, 2022.
Info and Video Here
Ana Popovic
Award-winning guitar player, singer, songwriter Ana Popovic is a mesmerizing guitarist who was recently nominated for Blues Rock Artist of the Year again for the 43rd Blues Music Awards. She is a multiple award-winner with 10 albums to her name. From Belgrade, this fierce and outstanding artist first appeared alongside Eric Bourdon, Taj Mahal, Buddy Miles, Double Trouble, Eric Gales on the Jimi Hendrix Tribute album Blue haze: Songs of Jimi Hendrix. Since then she’s taken the world by storm with her blend of blues, rock, soul and jazz. 2016 saw Popovic release Trilogy which featured guests Joe Bonamassa, Robert Randolph, Cody Dickinson and more. Her last album, Like It On Top (2018) was produced by Keb’ Mo’. Popovic has been touring worldwide for the last 20 years and still going strong.
Susan Tedeschi
Multi award-winning vocalist, guitarist Susan Tedeschi formed Tedeschi Trucks Band with her husband Derek Trucks in 2010 and with the band won a Grammy Award and five Blues Music Awards. With the Tedeschi Trucks Band, an eight member outfit, they have released seven albums, and are known for their world class musicianship. Susan is a highly acclaimed guitarist/vocalist with a successful solo career before Tedeschi Trucks Band.
Australian platinum-selling recording artist and world class rock guitarist,  Orianthi’s first major solo artist success as a singer-songwriter and guitarist, was with the Geffen Records release of “According To You,” which is now RIAA-Certified Platinum® and has over 17 million streams on Spotify. Career-long fans are used to seeing their favorite world class guitarist playing arenas with rock royalty and global superstars like Michael Jackson, Carlos Santana, Carrie Underwood, Steve Vai, Alice Cooper and more. Her 2007 debut Believe was released in 2009, Heaven in This Hell in 2013 and ‘O’ in 2020. A multiple award-winning guitarist, Orianthi is regarded for her playing.
Samantha Fish
The multi-talented, award-winning Samantha Fish is a powerful guitarist, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist. From Kansas City, Missouri, Fish is also a record label owner and record producer. The multiple award-winner (too many to list here) has 11 albums to her name, her latest, Faster (2021) is true to her genre-bending nature. Combustible riffs, danceable rhythms and strong vocals, populate the album, a follow up to her 2019 effort Kill or Be Kind. Fish is a force onstage, and known for her electrifying live shows.
Info and Video Here 
Carolyn Wonderland
Carolyn Wonderland, award-winning Texas guitar slinger, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, became the first ever female lead guitar player for blues legend John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. She’s also the first female guitar maestro to sign with Alligator Records. With powerful vocals and fiery guitar chops, Wonderland has been compared to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Janis Joplin but with her own style. She has recorded ten previous albums under her own name and her latest is Tempting Fate (2021), released on Alligator. Wonderland appeared on Austin City LimitsNPR’s Weekend Edition, and appeared alongside Bonnie Raitt in the film, The Road To Austin. She’s won multiple Austin Music Awards, and was inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame in 2020.
Info and Video Here 
Joanne Shaw Taylor
Award-winning British blues rock guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, Joanne Shaw Taylor is highly regarded as an electrifying player and soulful vocalist. She was discovered by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics at the age of 16. Since then, she has become one of the most sought after guitarists in the world of blues-rock. With seven albums to her credit, her latest The Blues Album was produced by Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith and released on Bonamassa’s KTBA Records. A fierce and soulful guitar player/singer, Joanne tours the world.
Info and Video Here 
Jackie Venson
Jackie Venson was the first African American female guitarist to win “Best Guitarist” at the Austin Music Awards. Raised in Austin, Texas, Venson was classically-trained as a pianist but started playing electric guitar during her senior year at Berklee College of Music and never looked back. In 2016, at the age of 26, Venson appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, performing on stage with The Late Show Band. Two years later, she returned to the show for three nights as guitarist and vocalist. More recently, Venson joined Grammy Award winner Gary Clark Jr. on his national tour. According to Forbes, “Jackie Venson is truly an Austin legend in the making.” She has released four studio albums, four live albums, and her latest, Vintage Machine, came out in 2021.
Joanna Connor
Chicago-based slide guitar virtuoso and singer-songwriter, Joanna Connor is widely known as one of the reigning Queens of blue/rock guitar. Debuting at Chicago’s premiere blues club Kingston Mines in the 1980s, she has played there three nights a week ever since, in between gigs at larger clubs and festivals. She’s shared the stage with Jimmy Page, James Cotton, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, A.C. Reed and more. A virtuoso slide guitar player, powerful vocalist and songwriter, Connor has 14 albums to her name, her latest 4801 South Indiana Avenue (2021) was produced by Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith and released on KTBA Records.
Info and Video Here 
Beverly ‘Guitar’ Watkins
The late Beverly ‘Guitar’ Watkins recorded her first solo album at age 60 but had been shredding the guitar on stages with James Brown, B.B. King, and Ray Charles since her teens. From Atlanta, Georgia, Watkins’ style was flashy and one of her trademarks was playing her guitar behind her head. A blues guitarist and singer, she didn’t achieve recognition until much later in her career and was re-discovered by Music Maker Relief Foundation founder Tim Duffy who booked her in shows. In 1998 she was part of an all-star Women of the Blues “Hot Mamas” tour with Koko Taylor and Rory Block. Her 1999 CD debut Back In Business earned her a W.C. Handy Award nomination in 2000. Her posthumous live album, In Paris, is set to release March 18, 2022 via Music Maker Foundation. Her band on the record includes guitarist Albert White (Elvin Bishop, Clarence Carter, Ben E. King, Ray Charles, Joe Tex), keyboardist Eddie Tigner (Ink Spots), and trombonist Lil Joe Burton (Tex, Bobby Womack, Otis Clay, B.B. King).
Info and Video Here 
Sue Foley
Multi award-winning, Canada-born and Austin-based Sue Foley, blues guitarist, singer, songwriter, released her new album, Pinky’s Blues (2021) out on Stony Plain Records. The set is a follow-up to her critically acclaimed The Ice Queen (2018), which featured Billy Gibbons, and Jimmie Vaughan. She won “Best Traditional Female (Koko Taylor Award)” at the 2020 Blues Music Awards in Memphis, was nominated for a Juno Award (Canadian Grammy), and took home the award for “Best Guitar Player” at the Toronto Maple Blues Awards. Foley keeps a rigorous touring schedule across the US, Canada and Europe. She’s opened for Eric Clapton, guested with Jimmie Vaughan and more.
Info and Video Here 
Erja Lyytinen
Finnish guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, Erja Lyytinen is a multi-award-winning blues/rock artist who won “Best Guitarist of the Year” in the European Blues Awards. She has opened for Robert Plant and played with Joe Bonamassa, Jennifer Batten, Sonny Landreth and Carlos Santana. With 11 studio albums, three live albums, Lyytinen was voted 14th in Guitar World’s “30 Best Blues Guitarists in the World Today” poll. Her latest studio album is Another World (2019) and latest live album Lockdown Live (2020.) Erja is a powerful guitarist, singer, songwriter who tours the world and deserves a listen.
Info and Video Here 
Debbie Davies
Debbie Davies is an award-winning guitarist, singer, songwriter who ranks among the top blues guitar players in the country. A ten-time Blues Music Award nominee, BMA winner for Best Contemporary Female Blues Artist and The Koko Taylor award, Davies is an outstanding guitar player, one of a handful of women who paved the way for female guitarists today. A thirty-year veteran on the road, she was guitarist for Albert Collins from 1988-1991. She has released 14 albums, one with guitarists Tab Benoit and Kenny Neal and another with guitarists Anson Funderburgh and Otis Grand. Others who have joined Debbie on her recordings are Albert Collins, John Mayall, Ike Turner, James Cotton, Mick Taylor, Peter Green, Coco Montoya, Duke Robillard, Tommy Shannon, Chris Layton, and more.
Video  (Thanks to Don Odell)
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
With her early gospel recordings, the late Sister Rosetta Tharpe earned popularity in the 1930s and 40s with her electric guitar stylings that significantly influenced rock and roll. She is referred to as The Godmother of Rock and Roll and informed the music of Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and more. From Arkansas, Tharpe was among the first recording artists to use distortion on her electric guitar, paving the way for electric blues. Her guitar playing technique had a profound impact on the development of British blues in the 1960s. A gospel-trained force of nature that broke barriers, stereotypes, and norms with astonishing regularity, Sister Rosetta Tharpe has and continues to influence scores of music icons and remains unequivocally the textbook definition of an iconoclast.
Info and Video Here 
Larkin Poe
Grammy Award-nominated sister duo of Rebecca and Megan Lovell are critically acclaimed around the world. Based in Atlanta, GA, they’ve released five studio albums, their latest being Kindred Spirits (2020.) These two Southern roots rockers, multi-instrumentalists boast stunning vocals and outstanding guitar, slide guitar,  acoustic guitar, mandolin, piano, lap steel and dobro skills. They started performing professionally in 2005 when they were still in their teens.

Nancy Wilson

Guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Nancy Wilson has recorded 16 albums, sold over 35 million albums worldwide, and has four Grammy nominations with her band Heart and sister/lead vocalist Ann Wilson. The first rock band fronted by women, Heart released a number of landmark albums throughout the late 1970’s and 1980’s. Wilson is known for her guitar playing, blending elements of flamenco and classical guitar styles with hard rock. She became more involved in composing music for films in 1995, especially for movies by her husband Cameron Crowe. Gibson Guitars ranked Nancy Wilson as the eighth-greatest female guitarist of all time. In 2016, Wilson formed a band, Roadcase Royale, with former Prince band member Liv Warfield. They released their full-length debut album, First Things First, in September 2017. Her latest release You And Me (2021) features Sammy Hagar, and Duff McKagan.
Lita Ford
A British-born American rock legend, Lita was lead guitarist for the Runaways in the 1970s before starting a solo career that saw her co-write the hit “Close My Eyes Forever” with Ozzy Osbourne. Her eight studio albums with Mercury and RCA featured numerous hits and her most successful album was Lita (1988) featuring “Kiss Me Deadly”. Other albums followed such as Stiletto and Dangerous Curves. She took a break from music and moved to the Caribbean with her two children. Returning to music, her eighth solo album Living Like a Runaway, was co-produced by Gary Hoey. 2016 saw Ford release her autobiography, Living Like a Runaway followed by her album Time Capsule.
Nita Strauss
The current queen of shredding, rock guitarist Nita Strauss is known for her long-term gig with shock rock legend Alice Cooper. Based in Los Angeles, this super-shredding rock player has earned her a stellar reputation in the music industry and endorsements by Ibanez Guitars, Marshall Amplification, and DiMarzio Pickups. In January 2018, Nita became the first-ever female Ibanez signature artist with her own model guitar, the Ibanez JIVA10. Initially Nita became known for her work with the all-female Iron Maiden tribute band The Iron Maidens. She’s been featured on magazine covers worldwide including Guitar World and Guitar Player. She was ranked No. 1 on Guitar World’s “10 Female Guitar Players You Should Know.” In January of 2022, Nita was honored at the 7th Annual She Rocks Awards with the Inspire Award.
Rory Block
7-time Blues Music Award Winner, Rory Block is one of the reigning queens of acoustic guitar. Singer, songwriter and guitarist, Block is considered a blues legend. She has released 36 albums, and tours the world. The Blues Foundation wrote “Today she is widely regarded as the top female interpreter and authority on traditional country blues worldwide.” She is a torch bearer for early American roots blues, a songwriter whose originals ring with power and truth. The New York Times called her playing “perfect, her singing otherworldly…” Her latest album Power Women of the Blues (2019) Block has performed with a number of greats including Stevie Wonder, Taj Mahal and David Bromberg.
Video   (Thanks to GtrWorkShp)
Jennifer Batten
Jennifer Batten was selected to play in Michael Jackson’s band which toured the world for a year and a half, promoting BAD. She was asked again to join Michael Jackson’s upcoming, “Dangerous Tour.” In between two of her own solo albums, Batten was asked by Jeff Beck to join his band. The two joined forces for three years for two albums and world tours. She authored two music books and released three solo albums. In 2011, Batten did a guitar residency for Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas. She has several guitar courses at and is still playing with Jeff Beck. In 2016 she received the She Rocks Icon Award and was inducted into Guitar Player Magazine’s “Gallery of the Greats.” Batten has four solo albums to her name and has appeared on countless albums.

Kaki King

Shemekia Copeland

Ivy Ford

Ally Venable

Gretchen Menn

Lari Basilio

Caroline Aiken

Anna Calvi

Daniela (Dany) Villarreal

The Warning

Laurie Morvan

Laura Chavez

Chantel McGregor

Yvette Young

Sarah Longfield

Nili Brosh

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