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Legendary Women in the Music Industry

Women have played an important role in music business milestones since the first recording of Elvis Presley up to the founding of the Grammy Awards, typically with less recognition than male executives. This article is to salute female pioneers who changed the music industry in honor of Women’s History Month and conjunction with Billboard’s 2022 Women in Music issue.

The Lady Pioneers of the Music Field

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Check the following strong women that give music to our ears and bring harmony to our daily lives.

Marion Keisker

As the 18-year-old Elvis Presley came to record songs at Sam Phillips’ Sun Records in Memphis on July 18, 1953, Keisker gave him a warm welcome while working there as an office secretary. Elvis came in with $4 to record two songs for his “mom,” claimed Keisker, “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin.” During that time, she worked as a radio host and station manager and was so curious about this happening.

Suzanne de Passe

Suzanne de Passe began her career at Motown Records in the late 1960s as a creative assistant to Berry Gordy, its Founder. Afterward, she rose through the ranks to become president of the label’s TV/film subsidiary, Motown Productions. This is when MCA Records purchased the business in 1988. What makes De Passe’s journey more remarkable is the upbringing of the iconic acts to Motown. These are The Jackson 5, The Commodores, and Lionel Richie.

Ethel Gabriel

Being the first female producer, Gabriel works for a record company with a different perspective. She mentioned to The Cincinnati Enquirer during her interview in 1983:

I didn’t realize I was in a place I shouldn’t be.