Music

Women Who Rock

Madonna, Taylor Swift, Dolly Parton, Katy Perry and more...

April 5, 2024

In order to fully appreciate the powerhouse female vocalists of music today – Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry – it’s important to remember the shoulders on which they stand on. We wouldn’t be shaking it off or having parties in the U.S.A. without the trails being blazed first by the likes of Madonna, Whitney Houston, Christine McVie, and one of the queens who started it all, Dolly Parton.

067

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katy perry

2019 fifa stage-worn ensemble

Estimate

$7,000 - $9,000

046

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taylor swift

2014 glamour magazine photo shoot used gibson les paul guitar with magazine

Sold Price

$15,875

Parton began her career as a songwriter after moving to Nashville, Tennessee immediately after graduating high school in 1964. After writing several Top 10 songs and then trying her hand as a “bubblegum pop” singer, she finally was given a chance to record the kind of music she had always desired to sing – country. Both of her first two country singles as a singer charted in the Top 25, which led to her first full-length album Hello, I’m Dolly (Monument, 1967). The mere beginning for a future global superstar. As Parton’s success as a country singer grew through the end of the 60s and the first half of the 70s, she took her career and legendary blonde curls to new heights in the back half of the 70s and early 80s by successfully transitioning into pop music while still retaining her country flair and by branching out into acting in films such as 9 to 5 (20th Century Fox, 1980), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Universal, 1982), and Rhinestone (20th Century Fox, 1984). Parton’s cultural domination during this time in music, film, and even on television with her own short-lived variety show and late night guest appearances, is what made her the icon she still is considered to be today. It was during this time too that another woman with an equal set of legendary blonde curls would rise up and cement her own status as a powerhouse – Madonna.

Madonna would take a similar path as Parton on her way to ruling the 80s. Instead of starting as a behind-the-scenes songwriter, Madonna would begin as a low-level back-up dancer for other artists. She formed a band or two along the way before breaking out on her own and scoring a massive hit with her sophomore album Like a Virgin (Sire / WB, 1984), the first album by a female solo artist to sell over 5 million copies in America. As her songs topped the charts, Madonna took another page from Parton’s book and started acting, appearing in such films as Who’s That Girl (Warner Brothers, 1987), Dick Tracy (Buena Vista, 1990), and her Golden Globe winning performance in Evita (Buena Vista, 1996). As Madonna stood on one of Dolly’s shoulders, another incomparable woman would stand on the other, with a direct connection to Parton to thank for her success – Whitney Houston. Houston would hit the scene in 1985 with her breakout song coming two years later, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” While reaching high-profile fame by singing the National Anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl, Houston would find her signature song in “I Will Always Love You,” which was originally written and recorded by Parton in 1974. Houston would record the song for her first film role in The Bodyguard (Warner Brothers, 1992) and it would go on to win the Grammy for Record of the Year.

062

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madonna

steven klein dolce & gabbana photo (a)

Sold Price

$585

063

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madonna

steven klein dolce & gabbana photo (b)

Sold Price

$780

Parton’s career track and artistic influence can still be felt today with the women that rock in this era. She is the god-mother to Miley Cyrus, who has cited Parton has one of her main musical influences (and Madonna and Houston as well). Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift have taken cues from Parton’s career by embracing country music and venturing out into acting roles – A Star is Born (Warner Brothers, 2018) and House of Gucci (MGM, 2021) for Gaga; Cats (Universal, 2019) and Amsterdam (20th Century Studios, 2022) for Swift. The strength of this pyramid of women who rock rests in the shoulders of these incredible artists who empower and build upon the legacies of those who came before them, the strongest of which began in Nashville, Tennessee in 1964 with the one and only Dolly Parton.

066

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lady gaga

stage-worn coat dress with sketch

Sold Price

$6,500

035

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miley cyrus

silk dress

Sold Price

$585

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