8 Female DFW Artists Who've Taken a Sledge Hammer to the Glass Ceiling

Claire Morales is a badass.
Claire Morales is a badass. Ellie Alonzo
March is Women's History Month, so we at the Observer are highlighting eight female DFW musicians who are totally badass, inspiring and, best of all, breaking any glass ceilings that stand in their way. In no particular order, here they are:

Vanessa Peters is a go-getter. - OBSERVER FILE PHOTO
Vanessa Peters is a go-getter.
Observer file photo
Vanessa Peters is in the White Rock Lake area, but she doesn't sit back and wait for people to come to her music. She and her husband, Rip Rowan, run the studio Electrofonic in the back of their home, giving bands a chance to make music at an affordable rate. Peters is working on a new album, a follow-up to 2016's The Burden of Unshakeable Proof, and is out on the road playing shows. She recently opened for 10,000 Maniacs at the Kessler, but you're more likely to see her in various places around the U.S. and Europe because Peters can't stop playing. Eric Grubbs

click to enlarge Leah Lane is the queen of Dallas' post-punk scene. - SHERYL ANAYA
Leah Lane is the queen of Dallas' post-punk scene.
Sheryl Anaya
Leah Lane of Rosegarden Funeral Party has emerged from the ashes of Moonwaves to become the queen of Dallas’ post-punk scene. After the band shed its lead guitarist late last year, Lane took over as lead singer, lead guitar player and primary songwriter. Since then, the band has slowly risen through house shows and shaky small-venue performances to open a sold- out show for punk rock legends Dead Milkmen. After Sunday's release of the band’s first album, The Chopping Block, Lane is leading her band through a West Coast tour, showcasing her brutal yet passionate voice to audiences that will surely not know what hit them. David Fletcher

click to enlarge Sarah Ruth Alexander performs and teaches. - COURTESY SARAH RUTH ALEXANDER
Sarah Ruth Alexander performs and teaches.
courtesy Sarah Ruth Alexander
Sarah Ruth Alexander, vocalist of Dallas' operatic and avant-garde metal act They Say the Wind Made Them Crazy, has been showing audiences what can be accomplished when a heavy guitar is paired with her hammered dulcimer, harmonium, recorders, effects and haunting vocals. TSTWMTC is not an act for the faint of heart. Alexander challenges audiences to expand their concepts of music and performance by defying the narrow lens through which metal music is often seen. Alexander also teaches vocal workshops around the area, including vocal techniques, warm-ups and vocal care. She also hosts Tiger D from 8-10 p.m. every Tuesday on Denton’s KUZU 92.9 FM, which features an array of music and sounds, like live soundbites of her cat purring. Playing by her own rules, Alexander is an inspiration for anyone who dares to be extraordinary. David Fletcher

click to enlarge Teddy Georgia Waggy wears many hats. - RAMBO
Teddy Georgia Waggy wears many hats.
Teddy Georgia Waggy of Midnight Opera (formerly Siamese) rocks her Rickenbacker 360 Guitar in ways both Joan Jett and Janis Joplin would approve of. As one of two founders of the band, Waggy wears many hats, including bandleader. When she’s not managing bookings and dabbling in poster design, she is collaborating with other musicians in the Dallas arts community. She wrote and produced music for a video by Fort Worth photographer Rambo, co-wrote and produced music with Ariel Hartley from Pearl Earl and is currently collaborating with Poppy Xander. But this gal is equal parts rock star and creative costume designer, tailor and seamstress. This May, she will collaborate with Sudie on a fashion project during an artist residency in Santa Fe. Midnight Opera has opened for King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Mild High Club. On April 29, the band is set to perform for its biggest audience ever during Fortress Fest in Fort Worth. Mollie Jamison

click to enlarge Jenna Clark is not slowing down. - LEAH JONES
Jenna Clark is not slowing down.
Leah Jones
Jenna Clark, a jazz singer-songwriter based in Dallas, has been riding a musical wave that shows no signs of breaking since 2015. Clark started her musical career in central Florida, drawing influences from blues, jazz, soul and country music. Clark also performs with her band Ten O’Clock and sings with Fort Worth country-rock band Whiskey Folk Ramblers. In the past, she has played venues such as Sundown at Granada and The Rustic Kitchen. In August, she was featured in a Girl Power showcase at Spinster Records with Bayleigh Cheek and Reinventing Jude. Her latest single, “Graceless,” is from her first full-length album, produced by Dan Creamer of the Texas Gentlemen and Jason Burt of Medicine Man Revival. According to Clark, the album features a variety of amazing local talent and sheds a new light on songs she holds close to her heart. Jacob Vaughn

click to enlarge Bayleigh Cheek has a unique sound reminiscent of Tom Waits. - JACOB VAUGHN
Bayleigh Cheek has a unique sound reminiscent of Tom Waits.
Jacob Vaughn
Dallas singer-songwriter Bayleigh Cheek has been in the scene for years. She started by playing open-mic nights at places such as Drugstore Cowboy and Opening Bell Coffee and has developed a unique sound reminiscent of Kula Shaker and Tom Waits. A longtime solo musician, Cheek now heads a four-piece band on rhythm guitar and vocals, as well as lead guitar, keys and drums. In the past few months, Cheek recorded and released her new single, “Ransom St.,” which Amy Miller’s The Local Show recently featured on KXT. Jacob Vaughn

click to enlarge Claire Morales is a badass. - ELLIE ALONZO
Claire Morales is a badass.
Ellie Alonzo
Since she first appeared regularly on the scene nearly half a decade ago, Denton-based artist Claire Morales has been captivating audiences with her mesmerizing songwriting and must-see live shows. She established herself with the 2015 album Amaranthine. Her commanding singing voice anchors each track with a firm rooting cloaked in a hazy swath of a dreamy country stomp that would make Neil Young and Crazy Horse, circa 1974, proud. Since then, her palette has expanded. Morales has taken forays into glam-rock-infused funkier sound collages and dabbled in echo chamber singalongs that at times resemble Kate Bush or Hope Sandoval. Morales has continued getting far out, as she expertly illustrates on the divine "Where You Are," a recent Twin Peaks-inspired homage recorded with Seattle artist Jena Pyle. With an eagerly anticipated new album out this summer, Morales' future continues to be primed for success. Look for her around town, performing at venues close and comfy such as Dan's Silverleaf before she strikes forth to bigger global stages. Jeff Strowe

click to enlarge Kaela Sinclair kicks ass. - RODERICK PULLUM
Kaela Sinclair kicks ass.
Roderick Pullum
Kaela Sinclair has been kicking ass and taking names for a while, so the fact that her 2018 is already off to a killer start shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone. When the University of North Texas alumna was tapped to be the new vocalist for French synth pop band M83 in 2016, she’d already begun writing and recording a new solo album. Sinclair moved to Los Angeles, and she released her EP We Watched The Lights Go Out toward the end of last year. She continues to focus on creating new music. Since being thrust into the spotlight two years ago, Sinclair has tackled a lot of things most of us could only dream about. And although a lot of these things presented new and sometimes scary challenges for the singer, she didn’t let that deter her from the big picture. As she puts it, “I feel stronger and more vibrant for making the adventurous and slightly scary choice — I highly recommend the scary choice.” Molly Mollotova
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
DC9 At Night