We’re now in April, which is National Poetry Month. In its honor, here are a few cool women songwriters.
Sylvia Fine was also half of a duo, as she was Danny Kaye’s wife, partner, and producer. She was born in Brooklyn in 1913. Already writing parodies and humor in high school, she taught piano after graduating from college. While playing piano at a rehearsal, she met Danny Kaye, a Catskills tummler, and history was made. She wrote dozens of humorous songs for Kaye to perform, including “Anatole of Paris” from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, “The Inspector General” and “Happy Times” from The Inspector General, and “(You’ll Never) Outfox the Fox” from The Court Jester. She was also nominated for an Academy Award in Best Original Song for “The Five Pennies” from the play of the same name and “The Moon is Blue,” also from the play of the same name. Fine gave birth in 1946 to a daughter, Dena, who Kaye and Fine named their own production company after. The two separated shortly afterward, but still worked together on a professional level. In 1979, Fine received a Peabody Award for Musical Comedy. In her final years, she donated millions of dollars to the CUNY system for the musical arts and refurbished auditorium.
Carole King, today a household name, began as a middle class girl born in Brooklyn in 1942. While attending Queens College, she met her first husband and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin. Goffin and King’s first song, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” became a success by the Shirelles. After that, the two wrote dozens of chart-topping songs throughout the 1960s, including “The Loco-Motion,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” In the 1970s, King began a solo career in music, making several diamond, platinum, and gold records and number one hits. Goffin and King were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and were given the National Academy of Songwriters Lifetime Achievement Award in 1988. The two also became members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for songwriting.
These women paved the way for modern-day women songwriters, like P!nk, Jewel, Fiona Apple, Alanis Morisette, and others. I wonder which of today’s songwriters will become household names like the women above in a generation from now.