Black Women’s History Month is over, but we celebrate Black women all year-round on this blog. Let’s look at these legendary and future legendary Black It Girls. Some we grew up watching and admiring. A few of them we are witnessing now. Many were before our time.
Josephine Baker (1906-1975)- Josephine was a legendary performer from St. Louis who eventually moved to France to broaden her career. She is best known for her banana skirt which made her a well-known performer across Europe. During WWll, she served as a spy for France smuggling messages in sheet music and her underwear. She was involved in demonstrations and boycotts during the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Josephine even spoke in the March on Washington. She adopted twelve children from around the world and called them her, “Rainbow Tribe.”
Dorothy Dandridge (1922-1965) – Dorothy was a singer and actress. She along with her sisters started off as a singing group performing at clubs such as the Apollo and Cotton Club. Dorothy eventually transitioned to film, where she rejected stereotypical roles for Black people. She was the first Black woman to be nominated for an Academy Award. Dandridge is best known for her starring role in, “Carmen Jones.” “Carmen Jones,” was a huge success and earned $10 million dollars at the box office. She was also the first Black woman to be featured on the cover of, “Life Magazine.”
Lena Horne (1917-2010)- Lena Horne was a dancer, actress, singer, and activist. Like Dorothy, her career started off in the Cotton Club and also refused to play stereotypical Black roles in films. She was the highest paid Black entertainer at the time (1940’s) and signed to MGM studios. Her last film role was in the legendary movie, “The Wiz,” where she portrayed Glinda the Good Witch. She also had a successful singing career and performed in Broadway musicals. Her album, “Lena Horne at the Waldorf Astoria,” was the best selling album by a woman for her label at the time. She had a one-woman show on Broadway, “Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music.” Lena won a Tony, two Grammys, and a Drama Desk for her show. She even won a Grammy for her album, “An Evening with Lena Horne: Live at the Supper Club.” Horne was a devoted activist, as well. She participated in the Civil Rights movement and was a member of the Progressive Citizens of America. She participated in the March on Washington. Unfortunately, her activism and association with Paul Robeson caused her to be blacklisted under the Mccarthyism paranoia. But her career would resume and continue to be successful.
Diana Ross (1944)- The boss, Diana Ross is a singer and actress. Her career started off in her hometown, Detroit on Motown Records. The Supremes had twelve number-one hits. They are Motown’s most successful act and one of the most successful music groups in history. Diana went on to have an even more successful solo career as a singer and an actress. She has six number one singles. Ross starred in, “Lady Sings the Blues,” “The Wiz,” and, “Mahogany.” Diana was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016, and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with The Supremes in 1988. We love her for her music, her confidence, her glamorous fashion, and her huge hair.
Pam Grier (1949-) – Pam is an actress best known for starring in Blaxploitation films. She played iconic roles as the star in, “Coffy,” and ,”Foxy Brown.” Not only is she an iconic Black film star, she is an iconic sex symbol. She also starred in Quentin Tarrantino film, “Jackie Brown,” which was inspired by her Blaxploitation film roles. She also went on to play a major role in the hit HBO series, “The L Word.”
Grace Jones (1948) – Grace Jones is a Jamaican supermodel, musician, and actress. She is best known for her striking features, androgynous style, and eccentric personality. When she was eighteen years old, she signed with Wilhelmina Modeling Agency and moved to Paris. Grace had tremendous success from the start working with Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue, and Elle Magazine. Grace then transitioned into a successful music career with huge hits like, “Pull Up to the Bumper.” She even had roles in box office hits such as, “Conan,” and “A View to A Kill.”
Whitney Houston (1963-2012) – Whitney Houston, “The Voice,” is often named as one of the greatest vocalists of all time. She is also one of the best selling artists of all time. Whitney actually started out as a successful teen model. She was one of the first women of color to appear on, “Seventeen” magazine. She also appeared in Glamour and Cosmopolitan magazine. Houston was seen performing in a nightclub where she was discovered by a representative from Arista Records. Clive Davis was impressed by her voice and she was immediately signed. She and Michael Jackson were the first Black artists whose videos were frequently played on MTV. Whitney has been named as an influence for numerous artists. She holds the Guinness Records as the most awarded female artist in history with more than 400 awards. Whitney has had several #1 hit songs, but her biggest is, “I Will Always Love You.”
Janet Jackson (1966-) – Miss Jackson, if ya nasty! A singer. An actress. A dancer. A sex symbol. A fashion icon. Janet started off as Michael Jackson’s little sister and Penny Woods on, “Good Times.” Her debut album was released when she was only sixteen. But, it wasn’t until she teamed up with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for her third album, “Control,” that an icon was born. Janet has ten Hot 100 number-one singles, sixteen on the r&b charts, and twenty on the dance charts. She has many iconic looks such as: the key earring, Poetic Justice braids, and her Rhythm Nation outfit.
Naomi Campbell (1970-) – Naomi Campbell is a Legendary supermodel. Naomi is one of the most famous supermodels and apart of the iconic, “Supermodel” era. She appeared on her first magazine cover at the age of sixteen. Naomi was the first Black model to appear on the cover of French Vogue. Campbell starred in music videos with huge artists like: Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, George Michael, Madonna, U2, and Jay-Z . She has worked with an endless amount of high-profile brands including: Marc Jacobs, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, Givenchy, Revlon, Gap, and Avon. She has been outspoken about racism in the modeling industry and how she is not paid as much as her White counterparts. She has worked with a numerous amount of charities and had some on-screen roles as well.
Lil Kim (1974-) – This iconic rapper and fashionista was discovered by Biggie and the rest is history. Her debut album, “Hardcore” was the highest charting album for a female rapper at that time (1994). The “Hardcore” album cover alone is iconic. She was one of the first female rappers to be unapologetic about her sexuality and to rock multicolored wigs. Not only is she known for her saucy raps, she is known for her love of fashion. She walked down runways and hung out with fashion designers like Donatella Versace and Marc Jacobs. Lil Kim has had so many memorable looks. We will never forget the outrageous and fashionable jumpsuit she wore to the VMAs in 1999. No matter what the uninformed say about her, Lil Kim is a legend.
Aaliyah (1979-2001) – Baby girl, the stunning actress, singer, and fashion icon. Born in New York City and raised in my hometown of Detroit. Her debut was on Star Search in 1989 when she was only ten years old. She released her first album, “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number,” at fifteen years old and sold over three millions copies. She was able to transition from a successful music career to a successful movie career. Aaliyah had starring roles in box office hits, “Romeo Must Die,” and, “Queen of the Damned.” She was also known for her signature tomboy style and the side bang that covered her eye.
Beyonce (1981-) – Queen Bey, the renowned singer and actress. Similar to Aaliyah, her first appearance was on Star Search when she was only eight years old. Beyonce started her performing career off in a well-known R&B group by the name of Destiny’s Child. They would go on to sell over sixty million records worldwide and be one of the best selling girl-groups of all time. Beyonce would eventually breakout from the group. She established herself as a solo act with her number one single, “Crazy in Love.” Beyonce has went on to win 23 awards, have 6 number one hits, and sell 17.2 million albums. And she’s still going.
Rihanna (1988-) – Riri, the Carribbean songstress, actress, sex symbol, fashionista, and now fashion mogul. Rihanna started off with being compared to Beyonce, but she has proved that she’s in her own lane. She signified her staying power when she released her third album, “Good Girl Gone Bad,” and decided to rock the edgy, asymmetrical bob. Since then she has became the third artist with the most number one hits ever, with fourteen. Rihanna is one of the best selling artists of all time with over 280 million records sold. She was recently named the richest female music artist. Rihanna is known for her fashion just as much as her music. She had everyone rocking red hair, edgy haircuts, star tattoos on our neck, and tattoos under our breasts. Rihanna has taken her fashion influence and turned it into a successful business. She now has Fenty Beauty, Savage by Fenty, and Fenty.
Megan Thee Stallion (1995-) – Hot Girl Meg is fairly new to the scene compared to the other women, but she is already claiming her spot as the new it girl. She has gained die-hard fans world-wide with her cocky and sexually liberating lyrics. Megan has already started some new phrases: “Hot Girl Summer,” and “Drive the Boat.” Not only does she attract people with her talent, she has also attracted people with her undeniable sex appeal and love for anime. Megan even organized a beach cleanup with her fans. Meg is all about breaking barriers as a woman in the hip hop game. And she’s all about female unity. She maintains close relationships with other female rappers to prevent unnecessary beefs between them. She is pursuing a degree in health administration as she continues to work on her music career. Her mentor is the legendary Q-Tip!