With radical roots in the Socialist Party of America and the Soviet suffrage movement, International Women's Day is commemorated each year on March 8th, and the weeks around that date have become a time to reflect, celebrate and advocate. Fittingly, in the U.S., March is also Women's History Month. With this in mind, we asked a number of our favorite artists to highlight some of the women who have most inspired them. Up today, Life of Agony singer, solo artist and trans icon Mina Caputo, whose band is about to kick off its "Beast Coast Monsters" co-headlining U.S. tour with Doyle before heading off to play its first-ever Australian shows and then more European dates later this summer.
"Needless to say, women have been such a massive source of both inspiration and strength ever since I was a child," she says. "They're constantly crushing it in all industries and on all levels with the persistent outwitting of man and the devil.
"I could list hundreds, but these five are among the top most inspirational for me."
1. Edith Piaf
Hailed by numerous women — and for good reason — as a constant source of inspiration is French singer-songwriter Edith Piaf (1915-1963). Her singing voice is unbelievably authentic, exuberant, extremely refreshing, and lucid, as were her performances in cabaret and film. She was altogether a lost art — something I'd deeply relate to for life.
2. Eleanora Fagan
With a career spanning nearly 30 years, American jazz singer Eleanora Fagan (1915-1959) is easily considered one of the best jazz vocalists of all time. She had had a thriving career before she lost her battle with substance abuse. She was provocative, eloquent, chilling and no doubt has saved my life countless times. A human frailty shimmering beautifully, I'm endlessly swept away by her music and singing style. Oh yeah, you might recognize her by her professional name: Billie Holiday.
3. Frida Kahlo du Rivera
Original, thrilling, outspoken and compelling, Frida Kahlo du Rivera (1907-1954, born Magdalena Carmen) was a painter of Mexican descent who started painting as a way of keeping herself occupied after an accident, subsequently opening a whole new world for feminine artists. Her self-portraits regularly ventured into magic, realism and surrealism, and this established her mark in the art community. Some of my favorite works by her include "Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress," "The Suicide of Dorothy Hale," "The Wounded Deer" and "My Dress Hangs There," Frida was always well ahead of her time. She depicted strong, feminist leanings, thus becoming an idol of strength, patience and endurance. Though the intensity of her anguish, I find her work also reflects a luster of hope.
4. Wendy Carlos
Truly a legendary figure within both the film score and electronic music scenes, Wendy Carlos (born Walter Carlos, 1939) is best known for the soundtracks to two Stanley Kubrick films: A Clockwork Orange (1971) and The Shining (1980), as well as Disney's Tron (1982), but what most don't know is she established herself as a prolific electronic music composer releasing her own work, in turn leading to assisting in the development of the Moog synthesizer. She was also one of the very first public figures to disclose having undergone gender reassignment surgery. Wendy's music is dreamlike and surreal. She continuously creates an intimate portrayal in her work by incorporating life experiences into her art, her burning love/crushing loss, incredible joy and deep despair. It's all captured in boldly colored, detailed musical compositions that are evocative and passionate.
5. Octavia St. Laurent Mizrahi
Another icon I deeply relate to is Octavia St. Laurent Mizrahi (1964-2009). This transwoman was an LGBT and AIDS educator active in New York City's black and Latino drag societies as well as the drag balls in Harlem. She came to the mainstream attention after being featured in the documentary Paris Is Burning (1990). Octavia was and will always be remembered for being a badass, a complete boss who
upheld a very authentic way of expressing herself, and advocating for anyone authentically living in the LGBTQ community. I've always felt that she spoke to and for me as she helped shape a movement that ended our silence. She's a constant reminder of something we all have in common: the oppression of growing up in the world — that for the most part — still demands our silence about who we really are; to not accept the punishment that society inflicts for our choices to be ourselves.
Overall, the commonality all these women endured — struggles, pain, love, abuse, glory, tragedies — and somehow managed to make the greatest personal comebacks in human her(hi)story. It clearly shows the divine feminine rules the planet. I'm just waiting for the masculine awakening to say it is so.