More Stories of the Girls of Piano Pop
In our first installment of Female Keyboard Heroes, we looked at the lives and work of Carole King, Grace Slick, and Roberta Flack. In this installment, we will review the musical works of several more renowned women of piano and keyboards.
With the release of her debut album SONGS IN A MINOR in 2001, singer/songwriter/pianist Alicia Keys seemed to come from nowhere to dominate the R&B and Pop worlds. In fact, her debut album was several years in the making.
After graduating from the Professional Performing Arts School, Keys was accepted to Columbia University. She dropped out after four weeks to pursue her music career. Initially signed to Columbia Records, she left the label after they rejected her album. Signing instead with J Records (run by music industry legend Clive Davis, the former head of Columbia and Arista) she released SONGS IN A MINOR, which sold over 12 million copies worldwide. The album also earned her 5 Grammys, quite a feat for a new artist. Since then, every one of her albums has been a chart-topper, as she continues to cover new and exciting musical ground. An accomplished pianist, Keys incorporates piano into a majority of her songs and often writes about love, heartbreak and female empowerment.
Like her influences Madonna and David Bowie before her, Lady Gaga has continually evolved in her music and her presentation of that music, defying expectations every step of the way. Her debut album THE FAME was a smash hit, powered by songs like “Poker Face” and “Just Dance,” and subsequent releases have been even more successful. Her eye-popping live appearances and fashion sense have kept her steadily in the public eye.
What often gets overlooked in all of the hype surrounding Gaga is her exceptional songwriting and piano-playing ability. Many people do not realize that she has been playing piano since age four and that she composed a piano concerto at the young age of 13. She was performing live at open mic events only a year later. It was this talent, coupled with her drive to success that has brought her well-deserved acclaim, and she will likely be entertaining us for years to come.
Christine McVie is a member of the most popular lineup of the legendary band Fleetwood Mac, and has played on every Mac album from their second (MR. WONDERFUL, 1968) to their most recent (SAY YOU WILL, 2004.) She was an official member of the band from 1970 through 1998. In 2014, her fans and fellow band members were thrilled by her return to the band. They are currently working on a new album, with McVie contributing heavily to the songwriting and vocals.
Renowned for her smoky voice and expert keyboard playing and songwriting skills, Christine McVie first gained fame as a member of the band Chicken Shack. Since joining Fleetwood Mac, she has written and co-written numerous rock classics, including SAY YOU LOVE ME, DON’T STOP, HOLD ME and OVER MY HEAD.
These are but a few of the great female keyboardists. Check out any of their recordings and be inspired.