SXSW 2015 – Hey Ladies!

SXSW Music 2015 had more closed streets, more rain, up-and-coming hip-hop and slow-burning R&B than 2014–luckily all countered by a whole lot less bloated branding or force-fed blockbuster acts. But for me, this year was all about the female-fronted bands. The many, amazing female vocalists that owned stages throughout: from MCs and rocking belters, to singer-songwriter and indie darlings.


If you’ve read any recap of SXSW Music, then you already know that Courtney Barnett charmed audiences with her deadpan delivery and throwaway genius. She is so low-key and unpretentious, and she mesmerizes with her strangely affecting narratives. Lucky for you–NY-based WFUV filmed the same darn show I went to, so you can have even better sight lines than I did!




Dessa, the Minneapolis-based MC and singer from the indie hip-hop collective Doomtree, captured the audience (literally capturing their cameras by grabbing them from their hands to film the crowd) during her solo set at Karma Lounge. I recommend a revisit of her underrated 2014 release Parts of Speech, as well as this intimate footage of her from the awesome KEXP-FM live session.




On the other side of the spectrum, Ibeyi (which I learned means twins in Yoruba) were perfectly suited for the Central Presbyterian Church with their sweet, synchronized harmonies. Though their newly-released eponymous release feels more moody-nouveau soul, their live performance was more rootsy and real…just what soothes sore feet and ringing ears.



Other standouts I saw included the dynamic indie pop of the Parlour Tricks (I have been waiting awhile to hear a female-vocal trio cover Nine Inch Nails), the soulful country-rock sounds of Elle King, and British pop songstress Marina & The Diamonds who is poised to make some more noise in the US now that she has already climbed the UK charts.

Please enjoy this playlist of fine female singers featuring all of the above and the many, many others I would have liked to have seen, but missed! Stream my SXSW playlist here, or hop on over to:


Julia Cummings

About Julia Cummings

Hello my name is Julia Cummings and I am the music services director at PlayNetwork. I have been in the industry for 15+ years.

My dad played bass in a Dixieland band so I was dancing around to “Ain’t Misbehavin’” long before I understood how to misbehave. Growing up I had a healthy diet of the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, and Otis Redding. My diverse record collection would confuse someone who might try to pigeonhole my musical taste. When people ask me what genre of music is my favorite: I always say I like music that is, well, genuine.

Spending a lifetime as a sponge absorbing music led me to pursue audio production. Prior to starting with PlayNetwork in 2005, I did some time as a production assistant and a remote broadcast engineer at KEXP-FM and as a board operator at KWJZ-FM. And like all radio mythologies, I got a fill-in shift at KWJZ-FM and ended up keeping the weekend slot for a year.

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  • Outstanding post, Julie! Thank you for the great intro to some cool new artists! Love the playlist! And most of all, I love your commentary! –CZ

    - Carolyn Zeytoonian