A New Compilation from Womxn in Music Collective Highlights Inclusion and Talent for International Women’s Day

Ailisa Newhall produced the new comp from Womxn In Music. Photo Credit: Dawndra Budd

In honor of International Women’s Day, it seems only right to highlight new Seattle projects specifically designed with the interests of womxn musicians in mind. One great example of such an effort is the new self-titled 15-track compilation from the Womxn in Music Collective, which officially drops on March 8; you can purchase it digitally via Bandcamp today, while the streaming platform is waiving its revenue share (as it does the first Friday of every month).

Womxn in Music Collective was formed in 2018 by two Seattle-based womxn involved in the local music industry—Sarah Gerritsen and Nikki Barron—who were looking for more opportunity to network with other womxn musicians and for the same pay and access to opportunity as their male counterparts. The compilation’s producer, Seattle’s Ailisa Newhall, who also contributed her song “Until The Robins Sing” to the project, was one of the collective’s early members and volunteers.

“Right when [it] was evolving into an actual thing… I was like, this is something I’m passionate about,” says Newhall. “I was really excited about having this safe space.” Newhall spent many hours volunteering and began managing Womxn in Music’s Facebook group (of which I am a member, though I was not involved in putting the comp together), the hub where most of the members have come together regularly during the pandemic. Often posting performances from group members, she found herself more inspired than ever to highlight womxn artists in Seattle and beyond.

Then, in January 2020, Newhall caught wind of a local theater, The Seattle Repertory, that was planning to put on a play about the story of a fictional womxn musician who had gotten her start at one of the area’s most beloved venues, The Tractor Tavern.

“I reached out to the Tractor through Womxn in Music and I was like, can we do a show, and have the Womxn in Music artists come perform and highlight like, real life women who are doing the scene?” Newhall says, adding that the plan was to partner with the Seattle Repertory Theater on the show. “The Rep would send some of their actors to come out and be a part of the show, and the bands would learn some of the music from this show and play their own.”

While everyone was whole-heartedly onboard with the idea, the pandemic had other plans, and the show, which was to occur in June of 2020, never happened. Instead, Newhall decided to coordinate, curate and produce this compilation, which she says is a representation of what she had hoped that show would be.

“That [theater show] just got me thinking… of highlighting the fantastic women that are really kicking ass in our group. During lockdown everyone was struggling, so I was like, how can we lift up the people and get a project going?” she says. “I started applying for money and stuff and finding a way to make something happen. I thought, people are writing music at home – how about we do a virtual idea of that concert through an album?”

After applying for grants for months, she procured a $5000 grant through the Ms. Foundation for Women and dove into getting as many womxn involved with the project as possible – not only the 15 artists who contributed tracks, but also the production crew, which included mastering engineer Rachel Field at Resonance Mastering and Tacoma-based visual artist Ava Wadleigh who designed the cover. The performers found ways to record their tracks at home or in a COVID-safe way, then sent them to Newhall to put the package together—which couldn’t have gone better.

“As I was putting the tracks together, they sort of took on a life of their own,” says Newhall, adding that each of the tracks speak to each other “in a really fantastic and amazing and organic way.” Sure enough, the songs, all of which are originals by women from the group, each muse on this tumultuous time in the world in their own unique but complementary ways. And the compilation also contains a plethora of styles—from jazz to blues to pop to country to folk.

Shaina Shepherd’s rousing piano-pop track, “The Virus,” directly considers the pandemic, Kat Bula’s bluegrassy “Nobody’s Woke,” addresses political polarization and the downsides of the “cancel culture,” and Stephanie Anne Johnson’s “American Blues” addresses the country’s baked-in racial injustice.

Meanwhile, other tracks, like Rani Weatherby’s R&B-infused “Where Can I Run,” gives voice to that general feeling of stuck-ness we all can relate to as we attempt to get up and face the complexity of these times. “It’s a struggle to get out bed/When I feel trapped inside my head/My dreams no longer bring me joy/When I can’t sleep through all the noise,” Weatherby sings.

The album packs a few surprise appearances, too. Sara Gazarek, a notable Grammy-nominated jazz singer who grew up in Seattle, contributes a gorgeous, swingin’ tune called “Easy Love.” And Lady A, a veteran Seattle blues singer who had her stage name stolen by the country-pop group formerly known as Lady Antebellum in June 2020, appears on the compilation to share her matter-of-fact conclusions about the state of the world with “The Truth is Loud.”

Despite all the different approaches and styles of each of the performers involved, Newhall says she’s in awe of how seamlessly it all knits together. She credits that partly the inclusive, open, and supportive energy of the Womxn in Music community.

“It feels whole. There’s blues and there’s jazz and there’s pop and folk; you wouldn’t think that all these genres would fit together so well but they do,” she says. “I’m just proud of the work that these women are doing. I’m blown away by the talent and how humble they are.”

Follow Womxn in Music on Facebook for ongoing updates.

5 Powerful Protest Songs Released by Womxn in 2020

Music has always served as a battle cry and a balm during particularly tumultuous times, and in 2020—when injustices like the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on BIPOC, the slaying of George Floyd by police, the assault on immigrant, women’s, and LGBTQIA rights by the Trump Administration became apparent—music was there to help us grieve, process, and make change, yet again.

Here’s a list of a few of this year’s stand-out protest songs featuring womxn. It’s by no means exhaustive, so let it be your gateway toward more songs of peace, love, and change.

Stevie Wonder“Can’t Put It In the Hands of Fate” (feat. Rapsody)

This poignant, funky single from legendary soul artist Stevie Wonder engages directly with issues of police brutality, black lives and voting for change, especially as he invites rappers like Rapsody to spit a few verses about her experience as black woman in America. “Apologize, you denied my people/Made our death legal, we all paralegal,” she raps. “Gotta defend ourselves when the laws ain’t equal/Cops aim lethal, death in cathedrals/Bang-bang boogie, you could die wearin’ a hoodie.”

Stephanie Anne Johnson“American Blues”

In her blues song for America, Seattle-based songwriter Stephanie Anne Johnson addresses America like a lost lover, and as a BIPOC in this country. “I’ve been sad/I’ve been blue/I’ve been dying/All over you/ You’ve been washed in my blood/All these years,” she sings. With her soaring gospel voice, Johnson spills her truth and pain—and like all great protest songs, it inspires you to really make some change.

Shea Diamond“I am America”

Visibility can be revolutionary in itself, and singer, songwriter, and transgender activist Shea Diamond knew that when she released her song “I am America,” in June. Co-written with Justin Tranter, the sizzling anthem centers Diamond’s own experiences as a black trans woman in America, and her views on the belonging and inclusion of the LGBTQIA community, while the uplifting video features short clips from members of the LGBTQIA community.

Sunny War“The Orange Man”

Americana artist Sunny War pulls no punches with “Orange Man,” pointedly going after the current U.S. administration. In the lyrics of the song, the Los Angeles-based artist acknowledges the diversity in America and how President Trump’s hatred of difference makes him unfit to lead, singing, “If I were you/I’d run for my life, not for president/cos the residents/need a leader and that is not you.” To send the point home, several boastful and bigotry-laden soundbites from Trump, on issues like popularity with the Black vote and immigration, are layered throughout the melancholy but passionate tune.

Thana Alexa“The Resistance” (feat. Staceyann Chin)

In March, Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist and loop artist Thana Alexa delivered her rousing protest song, “The Resistance.” She originally penned the song after attending the Women’s March in 2016, but by releasing it in 2020, the song gains broader meaning. “We must rise/Revolutionize our minds/To unify, detoxify,” she sings—and after the hardships we’ve collectively faced head-on in 2020, it’s a fitting imperative to carry into a new year, too.

AF 2019 IN REVIEW: Our Favorite Albums & Singles of The Year

Lizzo press photo by Luke Gilford, courtesy of Atlantic Records.

Every year I keep a running list of new album releases. The idea is that I’ll have new stuff on my radar, along with a go-to playlist if I’m feeling adventurous (or bored) and want to hear something new. This year that list grew to nearly 9,000 songs, and I’m still adding stuff I missed from this year to it. When it came time to make my year-end list, I had some ideas about what would be on it, but I decided to do something more immersive than I’d done years prior (basically narrowing my list down to ten albums). This year, I decided to rank every record I listened to that came out in 2019, resulting in a list of more than 200 albums. That’s a lot, certainly. It’s my job, of course, to listen to music. But what was more mind-boggling was that, when I made a separate list of albums I hadn’t had a chance to listen to or simply didn’t stick in my mind, it was more than double that number. Y’all, a lot of music came out in 2019. And a lot of it was really, really good.

I think our list at Audiofemme is unique in that it gives each of our regular writers (and some of our contributors) complete ownership over their favorites, and that makes our list unusually eclectic. That’s especially true this year; last year’s lists featured a lot of love for Mitski and Janelle Monae, while this year’s lists were so disparate there’s very little crossover from list to list. So while it’s hard to choose one overarching narrative around who slayed hardest this year – Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen releasing the best albums of their careers, Big Thief releasing two amazing records, Jamila Woods and FKA Twigs going big on concept albums – I think we all know that person was Lizzo.


  • Marianne White (Executive Director)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY!
    2) Big Thief – Two Hands
    3) Boy Harsher – Careful
    4) FKA Twigs – Magdalene
    5) Cate le Bon – Reward

  • Lindsey Rhoades (Editor-in-Chief)

    Top 10 Albums:
    2) Hand Habits – placeholder
    3) Crumb – Jinx
    4) Pottery – No. 1
    5) Orville Peck – Pony
    6) Cate le Bon – Reward
    7) Kim Gordon – No Home Record
    8) Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
    9) Black Belt Eagle Scout – At the Party With My Brown Friends
    10) Big Thief – Two Hands
    Top 10 Singles:
    1) Sharon Van Etten – “Jupiter 4”
    2) SOAK – “Valentine Shmalentine”
    3) Jonny Kosmo – “Strawberry Vision”
    4) Mineral – “Your Body Is the World”
    5) Drahla – “Stimulus for Living”
    6) Mattiel – “Keep the Change”
    7) Girlpool – “Minute in Your Mind”
    8) Charlotte Adigéry – “Paténipat”
    9) Weyes Blood – “Andromeda”
    10) Palehound – “Killer”

  • Mandy Brownholtz (Marketing Director)

    Top 5 Albums (in no particular order):
    Summer Walker – Over It
    Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY!
    Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
    Mannequin Pussy – Patience
    Raveena – Lucid
    Top 3 Singles:
    Summer Walker – “Anna Mae”
    Solange – “Binz”
    Jamila Woods – “ZORA”


  • Alexa Peters (Playing Seattle)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Guayaba – Fantasmagoria
    2) Ings – Lullaby Rock
    3) The Black Tones – Cobain & Cornbread
    4) Lemolo – Swansea
    5) Stephanie Anne Johnson – Take This Love
    Top 5 Singles:
    1) Lizzo – “Juice”
    2) Karma Rivera – “Do More Say Less”
    2) Heather Thomas Band – “When I Was Young”
    3) Stephanie Anne Johnson – “Never No More”
    4) Sarah Potenza – “I Work For Me”
    5) Ariana Grande – “Thank U, Next”

  • Sophia Vaccaro (Playing the Bay)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Charly Bliss – Young Enough
    2) PUP – Morbid Stuff
    3) Kim Petras – TURN OFF THE LIGHT
    4) Microwave – Death is a Warm Blanket
    5) Caroline Polachek – Pang
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Jess Day – “Rabbit Hole”
    2) Ashnikko – “Hi, It’s Me”
    3) Saweetie – “My Type”

  • Cillea Houghton (Playing Nashville)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Yola – Walk Through Fire
    2) Louis York – American Griots
    3) The Highwomen – The Highwomen
    4) Sara Potenza – Road to Rome
    5) Rising Appalachia – Leylines
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Kacey Musgraves – “Rainbow”
    2) Louis York – “Don’t You Forget”
    3) The Highwomen – “Crowded Table”

  • Luci Turner (Playing Atlanta)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) The Raconteurs – Help Us Stranger
    2) Harry Styles – Fine Line
    3) Brittany Howard – Jaime
    4) MARINA – Love + Fear
    5) Death Mama – High Strangeness
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Sam Burchfield – “Blue Ridge June”
    2) Pip the Pansy – “Siren Song”
    3) 5 Seconds of Summer – “Teeth”

  • Victoria Moorwood (Playing Cincy)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) YBN Cordae – The Lost Boy
    2) Wale – Wow… That’s Crazy
    3) Roddy Ricch – Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial
    4) DaBaby – KIRK
    5) NF – The Search
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) DaBaby – “Intro”
    2) Polo G – “Pop Out”
    3) Lil Baby – “Yes Indeed” (feat. Drake)

  • Amanda Silberling (Playing Philly)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Palehound – Black Friday
    2) Great Grandpa – Four of Arrows
    3) Charly Bliss – Young Enough
    4) T-Rextasy – Prehysteria
    5) Leggy – Let Me Know Your Moon
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Mannequin Pussy – “Drunk II”
    2) Charly Bliss – “Chatroom”
    3) (Sandy) Alex G – “Southern Sky”

  • Tarra Thiessen (Check the Spreadsheet)

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima
    2) FEELS – Post Earth
    3) Francie Moon – All the Same
    4) Lizzo – Cuz I Love You
    5) Crumb – Jinx
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Dehd – “Lucky”
    2) Bodega – “Shiny New Model”
    3) Y La Bamba – “Entre Los Dos”

  • Natalie Kirch (Pet Politics)

    Top 5 Albums (in Chronological Order):
    1) JANITOR — She Hates The Hits
    2) Haybaby — They Get There
    3) Holy Tunics — Hit Parade Lemonade Supersonic Spree
    4) Bethlehem Steel — Bethlehem Steel
    5) Francie Moon – All The Same
    6) SUO – Dancing Spots and Dungeons
    Top 5 Singles (in Chronological Order):
    1) Big Bliss – “Contact”
    2) Gesserit – “Silence”
    3) Vanessa Silberman – “I Got A Reason”
    4) New Myths – “Living Doll”
    5) Miss Eaves – “Swipe Left Up”


  • Liz Ohanesian

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Hot Chip – A Bath Full of Ecstasy
    2) (tie) Chelsea Wolfe – Birth of Violence // K Á R Y Y N – The Quanta Series
    3) !!! – Wallop
    4) Yacht – Chain Tripping
    5) Chromatics – Closer to Grey
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Billie Eilish – “Bad Guy”
    2) Roisin Murphy – “Narcissus”
    3) Boy Harsher – “Come Closer”

  • Lydia Sviatoslavsky

    Top 5 Albums:
    1)  Xiu Xiu – Girl With a Basket of Fruit
    2) slowthai – Nothing Great About Britain
    3) Boy Harsher – Careful
    4) Thee Oh Sees – Face Stabber
    5) Sylvia Black – Twilight Animals
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Squarepusher – “Vortrack – Fracture Remix”
    2) Coyu & Moby – “I May Be Dead, But One Day The World Will Be Beautiful Again”
    3) Cocorosie – “Smash My Head”

  • Tamara Mesko

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Bad Books — III
    2) Pedro The Lion — Phoenix
    3) Laura Stevenson — The Big Freeze
    4) An Horse — Modern Air
    5) Black Belt Eagle Scout — At the Party With My Brown Friends
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Kevin Devine – “Only Yourself”
    2) Rain Phoenix feat. Michael Stipe – “Time is the Killer”
    3) Sigrid – “Strangers”

  • Erin Rose O’Brien

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Stef Chura — Midnight
    2) Angel Olsen — All Mirrors
    3) Lisa Prank — Perfect Love Song
    4) Carly Rae Jepsen — Dedicated
    5) Cheekface — Therapy Island
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Caroline Polachek — “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings”
    2) Priests — “Jesus’ Son”
    3) Lana Del Ray — “The Greatest”

  • Katie Wojciechowski

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) The Highwomen — The Highwomen
    2) Better Oblivion Community Center — Better Oblivion Community Center
    3) Various Artists — Tiny Changes: A Celebration of Frightened Rabbit’s ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’
    4) Vampire Weekend — Father of the Bride
    5) J.S. Ondara — Tales of America
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) MUNA — “Good News (Ya-Ya Song)”
    2) Lizzie No — “Narcissus”
    3) Noah Gundersen — “Lose You”

  • Micco Caporale

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Orville Peck — Pony
    2) Boy Harsher — Careful
    3) Lingua Ignota — Caligula
    4) Heterofobia — Queremos Ver El Mundo Arder
    5) Knife Wife — Family Party
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Dorian Electra – “Flamboyant”
    2) Orville Peck – “Dead of Night”
    3) Solange — “Binz”

  • Jason Scott

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Allison Moorer — Blood
    2) Gabriella Rose — Lost in Translation EP
    3) Emily Scott Robinson — Traveling Mercies
    4) Girl Wilde — Probably Crying EP
    5) BHuman — BMovie
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) Dua Lipa – “Don’t Start Now”
    2) The Highwomen – “Redesigning Women”
    3) Katy Perry — “Never Really Over”

  • Ysabella Monton

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) King Princess – Cheap Queen
    2) Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
    3) Tyler, the Creator – IGOR
    4) Kim Petras – Clarity
    5) Charli XCX – Charli
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) King Princess – “Hit the Back”
    2) FKA Twigs – “holy terrain”
    3) Charli XCX – “Gone” feat. Christine and the Queens

  • Holly Henschen

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Marielle Allschwang & the Visitations – Precession of a Day: The World of Mary Nohl
    2) Angel Olsen – All Mirrors
    3) Sudan Archives – Athena
    4) Karen O & Danger Mouse – Lux Prima
    5) Sigur Rós – Sigur Rós Presents Liminal Sleep
    Top 3 Singles:
    1) King Princess – “Hit the Back”
    2) Sleater-Kinney – “Hurry on Home”
    3) Lizzo – “Tempo”

  • Erin Lyndal Martin

    Top 5 Albums:
    1) Jenny Hval – The Practice of Love
    2) Mariee Sioux – Grief in Exile
    3) Carolina Eyck – Elegies for Theremin & Voice
    4) Julia Kent – Temporal
    5) Rhiannon Giddens – There is No Other (with Francesco Turrisi)

  • Rebecca Kunin

    Top 5 Albums (in no particular order):
    Mal Blum – Pity Boy
    Jamila Woods – LEGACY! LEGACY!
    Durand Jones and the Indications – American Love Call
    Tony Molina – Songs from San Mateo County
    Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated
    Top 3 Singles:
    Brittany Howard – “Stay High”
    Angel Olsen – “New Love Cassette”
    Jacky Boy – “Get Along”