When you’re a woman over 50, the picture that society paints of you isn’t exactly a thrilling one. You’re expected to be a doting grandmother, a couponing fiend, someone whose idea of a good time is crocheting baby booties while catching up on her daily soap operas. While there’s nothing wrong with any of these activities, they’re definitely not for everyone. In fact, many women hit their 50s and find they’ve never rocked harder. Take these five music mavens, for example. You won’t find them organizing any bake sales, because they’re too busy climbing the charts. So if you feel like the black sheep at the quilting circle, don’t despair. These musicians prove that no mold can contain them. And the same goes for all of us.
1. Kate Bush. In 1978, Kate Bush became the first female musician to top the UK charts with a self-written song. She was 19 at the time, and the singer, who turns 54 in July, hasn’t stopped rocking since. She’s released 10 albums during her career. Her latest, “50 Words for Snow,” was released in November 2011 and contains seven brand new songs. Part of what makes Kate Bush so unique is her refusal to be pigeonholed. Pop, rock, folk and even classical – all of these labels apply to Kate’s work, and many of her albums play with several genres at a time. Over 50 and still unexpected – that’s what makes Kate Bush rock.
2. Debbie Harry. Deborah Ann Harry was born in 1945, a year that saw the bombing of Hiroshima, the founding of the United Nations and the death of Adolf Hitler. It was a year framed by terror, destruction and hope, and at the time of Harry’s birth, punk rock hadn’t even been invented yet. In fact, the artist who would later be hailed as a punk icon started out in a folk group. It wasn’t until the late ’70s that Harry formed her band Blondie and became a regular at places like CBGB and Studio 54. She’ll turn 66 this July, and there’s no sign of retirement in sight. In fact, with a new album just released in July of last year, there might even be a Blondie tour on the horizon.
3. Tina Turner. Not only is Tina Turner over 50 – so is her career! Through a lifetime of music, Tina has inspired karaoke singers the world over with hits like “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” “Proud Mary” and “River Deep, Mountain High,” just to name a few of her many chart-topping hits. In 2008, the New York Times called her “the queen of rock ‘n’ roll,” and at age 72, that queen still holds the title. In 2009, the eight-time Grammy Award winner went on a solo world tour, and she continues to work in and out of the studio, proving that for rock royalty, age is only a number.
4. Madonna. Madonna is set to release her newest album, MDNA, on Monday, March 26th. That’ll make 30 total albums for the music icon, and the release will boost her already astounding sales record – over 300 million albums sold worldwide. She recently took center stage at the Super Bowl halftime show, and that’s no small feat for a woman who’s 53 years old. Madonna is the world’s top-selling female recording artist, and she’ll be heading out on a world tour beginning in May. Really, Madonna rocks for so many reasons that it’s impossible to fit them all into a single paragraph. Simply ask one of her millions of die-hard fans.
5. Etta Britt. The other ladies on this list are likely already familiar to you, but you might be asking yourself “Who is Etta Britt?” She’s a singer who’s worked with some of music’s greatest artists, including Kenny Rogers (she toured with him) and Mary Wilson of The Supremes, for whom she sang backup. At 55, she’s finally decided to step into the spotlight with her aptly named album “Out Of The Shadows,” on the Wrinkled Records label. Continuing a successful musical career after age 50 isn’t easy, but releasing your first debut solo album at the age of 55? That takes guts. Famous blues musician Delbert McClinton once said “Singing with Etta makes me feel like I’m fifty again!” Whether you’re 25 or 75, Etta Britt reminds women everywhere that it’s never too late to follow your dream.
Why do these women rock? Because they’re not afraid to challenge the status quo and do what they love, even if it flies in the face of society’s expectations. Scrap-booking and birdwatching? Please. Not for these ladies. You’ll find them dreaming up songs, rocking sold-out stadiums and continuing to prove, year in and year out, that no arbitrary social code can extinguish the fire inside. It’s by no means a lifestyle that all women over 50 shoot for, but it does prove something to women of all ages – you’re never too old to rock.