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International Women’s Day: Raye Shaping History in Music – A Trailblazing Journey of Triumph and Independence

International Women’s Week is a celebration that expands on International Women’s Day observed on March 8th each year. This week serves to highlight the achievements of women around the globe, address gender inequality, and promote gender parity. It’s a time for reflecting on progress made and celebrating acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played extraordinary roles in the history of their countries and communities

Women have made significant strides in music, breaking barriers, setting records, and forging pathways for future generations. Their achievements not only highlight their individual talents but also their collective impact on shaping the music industry. Some iconic female artists include Madonna, labelled as ‘The Queen of Pop’, Beyonce, and Adele who have broken numerous records, and Taylor Swift who is the first female artist to win Album of the Year at the Grammys three times.

This year, we have chosen to highlight the success of the newly independent British singer, songwriter, and record producer Raye, who made history at the Brit Awards 2024 after winning six different awards and being the first woman in history to win Songwriter of the Year, further receiving the most awards given in one night. Raye, who is now living her dream of being a superstar since the age of 10, later added, “You just don’t understand what this means to me. I am ugly crying on National television.”

Raye was born on October 24, 1997, in South London, England, and is known for her distinctive voice and versatility in music. Raye’s interest in music started at a young age, with it already running through her family. Raye’s father was a songwriter and musical director at their local Church and met her mum, Sarah, when she performed for the Choir. Raye attended the BRIT School, a renowned performing arts and technology school in London, which has produced other notable artists. Her early career saw her releasing independently produced music and EPs, helping her to establish a footing in the music industry and led to collaborations with other artists. Raye explained that her hometown was “a great place to grow up.”

At the age of 17, Raye signed a four-album deal with Polydor Records, one of the largest labels out there. While being signed, she made significant contributions to the pop and R&B genres. Raye first gained prominence with her feature on Jonas Blue’s 2016 hit single “By Your Side” and Jax Jones’s 2016 single “You Don’t Know Me,” showcasing her talent to a wider audience. These collaborations were Raye’s first opportunity to highlight herself and to stand strong in the music industry while getting her name in the UK Top Charts. However, in 2021, Raye tweeted about her frustrations within the industry and shared that her label was unwilling to release her debut albums. Women in music still face significant disparities in pay, representation, and recognition compared to their male counterparts. Issues such as sexual harassment and discrimination continue to be prevalent.

After 6 years with Polydor Records, Raye was released and became an independent musician, leaving with ownership of the rights to her music. Becoming an independent artist allowed Raye to release the hit single ‘Escapism’ in 2022 on the social media platform TikTok. This hit single had been denied by multiple records, yet Raye had faith in herself and released it anyway. By the end of the year, it had sold over 60,000 copies and had been nominated for various awards. This was also her first solo UK No1, leading to Raye’s triumph in the music industry. Her music often explores themes of love, self-discovery, and empowerment, resonating with a broad audience and pushing boundaries in the industry to express her creativity and to create a connection with her followers. Not only does Raye care for her music, but she also uses her platform to speak out on various issues, including mental health awareness and the music industry’s treatment of artists. Her experiences have made her a vocal advocate for change, inspiring both her peers and fans. Her determination and resilience have made her a role model for aspiring musicians and have shown the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity.

Raye is now a record-breaking award winner and an icon in the music industry, being the first woman ever to win Songwriter of the Year, along with winning the most awards given in one night than any other artist before her. Beating Adele, Harry Styles, and Blur, Raye says that 18 months ago she was performing for 100 people, and now she has made musical history. Raye expressed she sees herself as a songwriter over a singer, as she stated, “Ask anyone that knows me. I am obsessed with the craft of writing music and have been since I was a small child. This is a BIG deal for me. I do see myself as a songwriter before an artist.” She has released one album independently which has been in the working for years and 2 singles which have both dominated the music industry. Raye, now being her own boss, made history at the Brit Awards that no one will forget. Raye voiced, “Never give up, go relentlessly after your dream.”

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