This essay examines how, in the male-dominated structures of the popular music industry, narratives about women have been marginalized, ignored, and undervalued. The female singer-songwriter, my research suggests, is, by definition, a contradiction and subversion of traditional gender roles, and this position has been claimed by female musicians as a form of rebellion and resistance. In the scope of my research, I focus on how female pop artists have embraced songwriting as a medium for authentic self-expression, and how these narratives have been embraced as autoethnographies that represent the collective experiences and frustrations of women in a patriarchal social landscape. I examine the compositions and career trajectories of commercially successful women artists of contemporary popular music, starting within the soft rock era of the early 1970s. I highlight the work of Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, and Carole King as pioneers of female autoethnography within pop songwriting, then discuss the significance of this precedent to the music industry today in the era of #MeToo.

Author Bio

Jennifer Morrow is a recent graduate of University of the Pacific with a BA in English and minors in writing and music management ('19). She presented research on female singer-songwriters at the 2019 Pacific Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference.



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