The 5 Best Female Vocalists in Dallas in 2015

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With the 27th annual Dallas Observer Music Awards just around the corner — in fact, voting is open right now at 2015musicawardspoll.dallasobserver.com — we will spend the next several weeks highlighting some of the nominees for this year’s awards. And when we say these artists are the “Best,” don’t just take our word for it: We polled 200 local music experts to pull together the nominees this year, so they come on pretty good authority.

Dallas breeds a breadth of talent, rich with both female and male artists alike. While the gender lines that usually separate awards like these are often male-dominated and tragic, in this case we're really just giving the boys a chance; every one of these talented women makes a case for the best singer in the city, period, and they've each been kicking ass in 2015.

The question is, will someone finally de-crown the Queen of Dallas Music, Sarah Jaffe? Could we possibly talk them all into joining one big girl group and taking to the road? No? Okay. Well, here are the five best female vocalists in Dallas, anyway.

Kaela Sinclair

2015 has been a record year for Denton’s Kaela Sinclair. She sang the national anthem at a Ranger’s game, signed to DefDisco and toured the UK — you know, among the day-to-day of being an up-and-coming pop star. Sinclair delivers a sound that is not only smart and sultry but also as smooth as a good whiskey. Think a dreamier, poppier version of Broken Social Scene-era Emily Haines mixed with the softness of Chan Marshall. Sinclair is not one to be compared, though; she stands out perfectly well on her own merit.

Lily Taylor

About this time last year, Lily Taylor released her debut full-length, The Ride, which provided hauntingly powerful songs. In fact, said songs helped get her nominated in 2014 for this very same award. This year Taylor has appeared on experimental artist Martin Back’s project, debuted her first video for the song "Fade" and toured parts of the United States. Taylor’s performances are aesthetically phenomenal: In addition to the vintage sound loops and ethereal soundscapes, she brings a visual aspect, including an on-point hat game, to her performances as well.

Rat Rios

Despite having a diverse background in music and theatre, Samantha "Rat" Rios didn’t start performing her music publicly until earlier this year. There is really no question about it, though: Rios delivers a fantastic new-wave sound, bolstered by one hell of a voice. She records all of her music herself and rejoices in being a one-girl act. We wonder things like, "Does she like pizza?" And, "Do her and Pizza Rat have anything in common besides name and possible choices of food?" All of these things can probably be answered this year the Dallas Observer Music Awards.

Sarah Jaffe

Well duh, Sarah Jaffe has made the list again. She took the crown as Best Female Vocalist for like the last four years (at least, right?) and walked home with four DOMA’s in 2014. She pretty well deserves her own category at this point so she could sweep that every year too. Jaffe got her start in Denton and has been making waves through national headlines and unique collaborations since becoming an official Dallas resident. She well and truly shed her folk-singing skin earlier this year with her S1 collaboration, and we are excited to see what else comes next. Don’t disconnect, Sarah. We believe in your "Vision."


Also nominated for three other DOMA’s, the ethereal framework of Sudie’s music is apparent in her 2015 self-titled EP, her debut release. Despite the light and dreamy songs she creates, the artist otherwise known as Sudie Abernathy suffers with anxiety and links her attacks to the inspiration behind writing songs like "Heartattack." She recorded her entire EP in the bathroom tub at her apartment in Dallas. I mean, that is dedication. Or maybe the only quiet place she can record. Either way, it’s great.

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