Even though we live in 2015, the world is still divided in gendered lines. Male and female artists still get separate categories at nearly all awards shows, which is probably a good thing considering that it is most often men who are casting the votes. Despite this glaring state of disparity in the music industry, female vocalists are thriving more than ever, and Dallas is no exception.
The female vocalists in Dallas are among its most successful musicians, attracting attention from fans near and far. This list of five talented women represents some of the best talent our city's music scene has to offer, gender notwithstanding.
Of course, Sarah Jaffe must top the list of Dallas' best female vocalists. Jaffe has had success outside of her hometown, but always seems to keep coming back, largely because her fans here love her so much. Jaffe has demonstrated remarkable range, from her beloved stripped-down single "Clementine" to Don't Disconnect, a strong entry for one of last year's best pop records. Even though Jaffe will likely go on to much more success in a broader sense, she will always be Dallas' hometown girl.
As lead singer of Somebody's Darling, this year's Dallas Observer Music Awards-winning country act, Amber Farris has a stage presence and voice that could rival any of the genre's heaviest hitters. Farris' vocals are raw, powerful and wholly unique, giving Somebody's Darling a sound that is immensely popular with local music fans. There are more young local bands than ever that are fronted by women, and Amber Farris is the example that they should all look up to.
A self-described "avant chanteuse," Lily Taylor's vocals are ethereal and occasionally haunting. Her 2014 release The Ride demonstrates her progression as both a vocalist and artist, and is indicative of a very bright future for Lily Taylor. As a performer, Taylor's stage show blends art, music and performance in a way that is exciting and fresh. Pop music could use a serious influx of avant-garde talent, and Lily Taylor is just the type.
Madison King makes the kind of infectious, country-tinged songs that Starbucks would play if they ever made good music choices. As an artist, King is really the whole package: lyricist, singer, and excellent guitar picker. Vocally, though, King brings a unique timbre and color to the stage that sets her apart from the rest, especially in more soulful tunes. It's hard to find this kind of raw authenticity in mainstream music, which makes King's ascent even more exciting.
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It's well-known that Sam Lao is one of Dallas' best rappers, but she unfortunately doesn't usually get the same credit as one of the city's best vocalists. It's rare to see a rapper who can flawlessly decimate 16 bars and then transform into a Mary J. Blige type with soaring vocals at the chorus. It is this ability — unmatched by most of her contemporaries — that makes Sam Lao a real contender for 2015's breakout artist.
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