“Twenty-first-century woman” song

“Twenty-first-century woman” is a gospel-style song for women’s voices and band, inspired by Oprah Winfrey’s famous 2018 Golden Globes acceptance speech. It was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London on 22nd November 2018 by stars of London’s West End scene, singers from Hollywood film soundtracks and an all-female band of top London session musicians.

Twenty-first-century woman song is the first recording session of a song which was written, conducted, sung, played, engineered, produced, mixed and mastered entirely by women

The #TwentyFirstCenturyWomanSong single is directed by the song’s composer, Joanna Forbes L’Estrange, and will be released on Friday, 8 March 2019, International Women’s Day. All proceeds from downloads of the “Twenty-first-century woman” song will go to charities supporting women and girls around the world who are denied the opportunities they deserve.

Find us on social media at #TwentyFirstCenturyWomanSong

Twenty-first-century woman song #twentyfirstcenturywomansong

Twenty-first-century woman song #TwentyFirstCenturyWomanSong

RECORDING CREDITS

Singers: Roshani Abbey, Gina Beck, Sara Brimer, Mary Carewe, Sarah Eyden, Alice Fearn, Hazel Fernandes, Joanna Forbes L’Estrange, Emma Kershaw, Jo Marshall, Melanie Marshall, Lucy Potterton, Liz Swain, Rebecca Trehearn
Solo girl: Alicia Marsden
Band: Andrea Vicari (piano), Inga Eichler (bass), Sophie Alloway (drums), Rosie Frater-Taylor (guitar)
Engineer: Isabel Gracefield
Assistant engineer: Alice Bennett
Producer/Mix/Mastering: Isabel Gracefield
Videographer: Katy Jackson
MD: Joanna Forbes L’Estrange

LYRICS Twenty-first-century woman song

A new day is on the horizon
And when the sun rises up to brighten that day
It will be because for many generations
Women took a risk for the right to have their say;
We are raising the leaders of the future –
We need to teach them well or how will they know
To press for change, to stand up and be counted?
We’ve come so far but there’s such a long way to go.

So what does it take to be a twenty-first-century woman?
Cos we need to make a stand for the twenty-first-century woman.

We are fighting for an end to all injustice
So every girl can learn to speak her truth without fear;
We fight for parity in pay and education
For equal opportunities in every career;
We must be brave and we must keep on believing,
No more pretending we don’t mind cos those days are gone;
Now’s the time to spread the word across all nations –
No one can silence us and still the truth marches on.

So what does it take to be a twenty-first-century woman?
Cos we need to make a stand for the twenty-first-century woman.

We are doctors, politicians,
We’re conductors, musicians,
We are poets, we are writers
We are even fire-fighters,
We are sisters, we are strivers,
We are cancer survivors,
We are actors, we are dancers,
We have questions and we have answers.

We are bishops, we are preachers,
We are nuns, we are teachers,
We are cleaners, we are carers,
Some of us are child bearers,
We’re composers, we’re presenters,
We are authors, inventors,
And we won’t give up the fight
Until we have equal rights.

We are surgeons, we’re opticians,
We are nurses, beauticians,
We are trainers, entertainers,
We are tireless campaigners,
We are bankers, we are bakers,
We are wives and home-makers;
The list is endless and that’s the way it should be
Till every girl can grow up to be who she wants to be.

And that is what it takes to be a twenty-first-century woman.

Lyrics ©2018 Joanna Forbes L’Estrange
Music ©2018 Joanna Forbes L’Estrange

Q&A “what does it take to be a twenty-first-century woman?”

The chorus of Twenty-first-century woman poses the question “what does it take to be a twenty-first-century woman?” and the answer comes in the form of the many professions which women occupy, including some which were traditionally closed to women: preachers, bishops, firefighters, surgeons etc. The message is strong: the Twenty-first-century women is someone who can be anything she chooses to be, without being disadvantaged by her gender, whether that be a carer or the president of the United States of America. We need to keep up the fight “until every girl (across the world) can grow up to be who she wants to be”. Find out what the musicians who recorded the single said in response to question “what does it take to be a twenty-first-century woman?” below…

ROSHANI ABBEY – Singer/Actor/Choreographer
Which women have inspired you in your life and why?
I’ve been very lucky to grow up surrounded by amazing women! Having some fiercely intelligent and passionate women for my teachers has undoubtedly shaped who I am today. My mother raised two girls as a single parent whilst working self-employed and her strength of character amazes me. Watching those women push boundaries and excel in their fields still inspires me; it helped me learn that ambition and leadership skills are not unbecoming on women, that determination and being unapologetically true to yourself are worth striving for. 
What does the term “twenty-first-century woman” mean to you?
To me, “21st-century woman” means being able to break taboos, challenge stereotypes, and pave your own path, whatever that may be, without limitation or judgment.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
No matter what you do, wherever you go, don’t ever lose yourself. You will get weather-beaten as life goes along and when it does it is easy to want to develop a hard stubborn shell. When you are tempted to do that, remind yourself that being flexible, kind, and vulnerable takes greater courage and stronger self, and don’t give in!

 


GINA BECK – Singer, currently starring as Miss Honey in Matilda
Which women have influenced you and why?
My step sister Dr Clare Chambers who is a political philosopher specialising in feminism, contemporary liberalism, theories of social justice, and social construction. She’s also the author of two novels and the most kick ass woman I know!
What does the term “21st-century woman” mean to you?
It means a woman who not only achieves whatever it is she wants to achieve or whatever field she wants to work in but also feels no social limitations to achieve those goals. Hopefully by the end of the 21st century all things will be equal.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Pick up your cues and only pause onstage if you really feel you’ve earned it!

 

 

 

 


SARA BRIMER DAVEY – Singer
Which women have influenced you and why?
The women in my family have been a solid representation of power, love, knowledge, bravery, and talent.  They have shown me what I’m made of.
What does the term “21st-century woman” mean to you?
A 21st Century Woman is someone who knows herself.  She strives for the good of people around her while looking out for her own needs.  She does not hide, she does not blame, she is knowledgeable about current events, she cares about the past and looks forward to the future.  The 21st Century Woman is always learning.  She examines each situation, tradition, each rule, each standard and asks herself “Is this good for me? Is this enough? Is this just?” and if something needs changing she is active and creative.  She loves the Earth.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
“Whatever you are feeling, feel it fully.  Don’t shove it down, don’t wipe it away, don’t ignore it.  Feel it with all your being.  Only then can you learn from it and grow.”

 

 

 

 


MARY CAREWE – Singer, Star of Stage & Screen
Which women have influenced you and why?
Dame Margot Fonteyn, as a child, and Liza Minelli, once a teenager were my idols. Both women who are iconic performers. My mum instilled in me the importance of hard work to achieve your potential.
What does the term “21st-century woman” mean to you?
A confident woman who respects and embraces all of humanity and recognises the fragility of our planet and wants to make a difference.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Real success is earning the confidence and admiration of your professional colleagues – not fame and fortune.

 

 

 

 


SARAH EYDENSinger, Concert Artist & Actress
Which women have influenced you and why?
Helen Mirren who told a reporter who asked her on the red carpet why she hasn’t ‘retired’ to the country yet (she was 60) she replied “Why would I want to do that ?? I live and work in London”. She spoke her truth without hesitation. Challenged the outdated perceptions. Inspired me to not hold back and feel that I couldn’t or shouldn’t speak my truth in any situation.
A close girlfriend who was recently bereaved, who is raising her son alone and being consistent day in day out. Learning advanced maths herself to help him. Great role model, awesome woman!
What does the term “21st-century woman” mean to you?
The term “21st Century woman” should mean we are treated exactly the same as men. Given the same respect, same wages for the same job, an open playing field where ‘people’ are judged for their talents and skills rather than gender. As 21st Century women, we need to act and behave as equals – I believe this is the way to make the positive change in the perceptions of society – to help influence younger girls and women, without have to make a point about it. Just be it.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
It’s not all about you.

ALICE FEARN – Singer, currently starring as Elphaba in Wicked
Which women have influenced you and why?
My mother has always been my main influence. She has shown (and continues to show) how hard work and determination will always pay off.
What does the term “21st-century woman” mean to you?
It means having the strength of mind to challenge anyone who tells you something is impossible. It’s standing up for what you believe is right and achieving whatever you set out to do.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Don’t let the no’s get you down.

 

 

 

 

 


JOANNA FORBES L’ESTRANGE – Singer/songwriter/conductor. Wrote Twenty-first-century woman song
Which women have influenced you and why?
My godmother, Ann Hummel. She was told at school in the 1950s that, as a girl, her best option was to become a secretary; through sheer hard work and determination she became a successful BBC TV producer and taught me that hard work pays off. Also, my mum, foster mum, step-mum, mother-in-law and step-mother-in-law who’ve all triumphed over adversity of different kinds.
What does the term “21st-century woman” mean to you?
Women in the 21st century should be brought up to believe that they can be anything they want to be. Girls should be given exactly the same opportunities and encouragement to fulfil their potential as boys are. This is still not the case in many parts of the world.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
If not me, who? If not now, when? Don’t wait for the right opportunity; create it.

 

 

 


EMMA KERSHAW – Singer, Concert artist & actress
Which women have influenced you and why?
Maya Angelou. I have read all her books and her humanity and courage is such an inspiration.
Mrs Duffy, my teacher who taught me in junior school. She told me ‘Be true to yourself’. Emma Thompson as an inspirational woman and everything I want to be when I grow up.
What does the term “21st-century woman” mean to you?
A woman who has choices in her life, someone who can make her own decisions about her body, and also gets paid the same for the same job as a man. Most importantly she is someone who supports other women and helps them achieve their potential.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
From my Grandmother. Be courageous. Fear can stop you achieving your dreams.

JO MARSHALL – Singer & actress
Which women have influenced you and why
The day my friend Evelynne Brink birthed her son he was rushed in for an emergency bowel operation. Afterwards she was told he was not going to make it. Refusing to accept this expert opinion she battled with doctors to think outside the box. They attached him to a TPN drip and after many months of devoted care and intense medical training she was finally allowed to bring her baby home. Six years on, she continues to overcome what appear to be impossible hurdles. Her son is thriving. Fed on TPN at night and attending school with his friends during the day. She is a single mother of two, published author and successful businesswoman, but most impressively uses her courage, perseverance and optimism to challenge the realms of possibility.
What does the term “21st-century woman” mean to you?
I believe we are continuing the path laid for us by the Suffragettes and all those who have fought for justice and equality. It is a challenge but also a privilege of adjusting to the changes that have already come about. We must learn to adapt and thrive for the sake of women in future generations and hopefully one day get the balance right.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Never let fear of failure stop you from achieving your goals.

 

 

 


LUCY POTTERTON – Singer, Vocalist & Songwriter
Which women have influenced you and why?
The women in my family have always been a really big influence for me. My great grandma was one of the strongest people I have ever known; she had to overcome a lot of adversity and prejudice in her life, but never let it affect who she wanted to be. I think her determination has filtered down through to my grandma and mum; they have always encouraged me to believe in myself and follow my dreams no matter what.
What does the term “21st-century woman” mean to you?
I think it means being able to stand up for what you believe in. We have a responsibility to all future generations to continue to push against the glass ceiling, so that one day it totally shatters.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Some of the most beautiful things in life are often the most terrifying.

 

 

 

 

 


LIZ SWAINSinger, Vocalist & Choral Conductor
Which women have influenced you and why?
Mary Seacole. When prejudice prevented her from joining British nurses at Crimea, she set up her own business to start her own lodgings there and nurse the injured and dying. Her tenacity and dedication to her vocation were not crushed – she dodged the obstacles and found a way to keep going. I also admire Aretha Franklin for similar reasons – she was always unapologetically herself. This is a theme amongst the women in my British and Ghanaian families!
What does the term “21st-century woman” mean to you?
A person who is allowed to be entirely themselves and choose and define their own life, without conforming to other people’s ideas of who they should be.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Be curious – ask questions and then listen to the answers. Life is too short not to enjoy yourself!

 

 

 


REBECCA TREHEARN – Singer, Olivier Award-winning actress/singer
Which women have influenced you and why?
My mum, who’s grafted her whole life, completely changing career in her 50’s, whilst finding the time to be the most incredibly supportive mother to me and my brother.  I’m also a big Beyonce admirer!
What does the term “21st-century woman” mean to you?
A woman who defies the limits society continues to try to place on her, who makes her own opportunities and encourages and supports other women to do the same.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Comparison is the thief of joy.

 

 

 

 


ALICIA MARSDEN (11) – Soloist on Twenty-first-century woman & member of London Youth Choir
Which women have influenced you and why?
My Mum, Louise Marshall, because she is a singer/musician too and she helps me learn about music and understand the way music works. Also, Ariana Grande.
What does the term “21st-century woman” mean to you?
It makes me think of women marching strongly through anything. Being strong. It makes me think – “you can do anything,” just believe you can.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
In life – always be kind and don’t let anybody bully you or, even if they know it could be true, you still believe that you can be strong.

 

 

 

 


ANDREA VICARI – Jazz pianist
Which women have influenced you and why?
Barbara Thompson who was one of the first female jazz musicians I saw play live. 
What does the term “21st-century woman” mean to you?
Equality, respect, modern, no limits on ambitions, Independence.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Accept yourself and if you want to change it has to come from you.

 

 

 

 

 


INGA EICHLER – Bass player
Which women have influenced you and why?
Surrinder Kaur (Biji) who ran a world-wide charity. She inspires me with her faith, compassion and hard work.
What does the term “21st-century woman” mean to you?
A woman who believes in herself and is given the opportunity to realise her potential
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Know thyself.

 

 


SOPHIE ALLOWAY – Drummer
Which women have influenced you and why?
I’ve been lucky to have a lot of strong and inspiring women in my family. They’ve made it normal for me to be independent, hard working and to follow my own path.
What does the term “21st-century woman” mean to you?
I don’t think women should have fewer choices than men. Perhaps I’ve been very lucky in not feeling held back by gender in my career. However I realise there are parts of the world where this is not the case. I hope the balance will be redressed for their futures.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
To be myself as each of us has something to offer. Having said that I’m always keen to improve on what I do have. We’re all a work in progress.

ROSIE FRATER-TAYLOR – Guitarist
Which women have influenced you and why?
I love strong female guitarists & singer-songwriters. Becca Stevens, Emily King, Olivia Chaney, Joni Mitchell, Lianne La Havas, Meshell Ndegeocello, Janelle Monae – the list is pretty extensive! Also, incredible female jazz musicians like Esperanza Spalding, Nubya Garcia and Emily Remler. I see a lot of myself in them and a lot of what I can be. I think it’s so important for women to be seen being virtuosic – I wrote a whole essay on Esperanza talking about this!
What does the term “21st-century woman” mean to you?
A 21st-century woman in the music business is one who puts herself in situations she isn’t normally seen. It is so important to be the only female instrumentalist in that big band, that quartet, getting up to play at a jam etc. A 21st-century woman puts herself in those situations regardless of a lack of female peers. I think these women will be instrumental in creating greater diversity in jazz and I constantly strive to be one!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
As an artist, find your people. There are so many musicians out there who like the same music as you, who create similar music to you, find them and collaborate, have lessons, make connections, be inspired, start projects, be creative, form a band and so on. The music business is a community and it’s so much easier to tackle when you have people on your side.

ISABEL GRACEFIELD – Sound engineer & producer
Which women have influenced you and why?
My grandmother was born illegitimately at a time when that meant you’d be given away. She had these maiden aunts who helped keep her in the family and raise her against social expectation.
What does the term “21st-century woman” mean to you?
Hopefully a much broader definition of what a woman is, or can be.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Listen. And assume anyone could be your future best friend.

 

 


THANKS

Joanna would like to thank:
Oprah Winfrey for inspiring her to write the song in the first place – watch Oprah Winfrey’s famous 2018 Golden Globes acceptance speech below
Sophie Ray and Klara Niklewicz at Abbey Road Studios, London
All of the singers and band members who gave their time for free to record this song
Isabel Gracefield and Alice Bennett for engineering and producing the session
Alexander L’Estrange
Jonny Gee
 for designing the logo below
Lisa Davies Promotions
Fi Alsop 
Susan Lee
Katy Jackson
Susan Norman
Hugh L’Estrange
All of the women who campaigned for equal rights in the past
All of the women who continue the fight today

Twenty-first-century woman song was inspired by Oprah Winfrey’s famous 2018 Golden Globes acceptance speech