Girl Gang Music: Artists to Watch in 2020

We’re calling these female artists next up in 2020.

Dua Saleh

Twin Cities-based musician Dua Saleh is an in-demand artist known for their work as a singer, activist, and poet. Born in Sudan, Dua Saleh spent much of their childhood in St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood, where they were influenced by generations of black musicians. They’re inspired by jazz, R&B, hip-hop, and dancehall, but their music makes its own statement. This past year they released their latest album “Nur,” which means “light” in Arabic. Saleh’s voice is a powerful light, drawing attention to their individuality. Their sound is fluid and soulful, and reflects a self-preserving fight to identify just as they are.

Ari Lennox

GRAMMY SNUB OF THE YEAR!!! PERIOD! Not this year… Ari Lennox is an rnb artist and DMV’s finest. Voice like some irish butter on top your morning toast. All the good energy you need for the bedroom.


Mahalia: Mahalia has a sound that has transcended beyond the UK, after several viral videos. Named after gospel great Mahalia Jackson, this young lady started writing and recording music back in 2015. Each release pulled her deeper into the R&B spotlight that she now shares with fellow Brit, Ella Mai. “What You Did” is Mahalia’s first single to debut on the US Billboard R&B charts. It’s also one of the first singles ever to be jointly-supported by both Pandora and its parent company SiriusXM.


Mallrat: Brisbane-based indie pop sensation Mallrat has been slowly garnering a buzz for the past several years. Already a household name in her native country of Australia, she has secured opening slots for big names like Post Malone and Maggie Rogers. Take into account her uber catchy upbeat tracks that showcase her affinity for the 90s that undoubtedly put you in a good mood and have you bobbing your head and singing along only shows her mainstream success here in the states is imminent.  

Lauren Sanderson

Midwest Kids Can Make It Big. For Lauren Sanderson, the notion serves as both a mission statement and the title of her highly-anticipated debut album. The Indiana-born artist has remained fiercely independent through a collection of self-released EPs, 2018’s DON’T PANIC! and Spaces, the latter of which landed her at the top of iTunes R&B charts. 2019 has been nothing short of exciting for Sanderson either, as the up-and-coming artist continues to make a name for herself in the world of pop-R&B meets hip-hop.

Elsa Y Elmar

To be clear, Colombian-born Elsa Carvajal is Elsa Y Elmar. There is no other dude. Her brand of subdued pop features tinges of rock, electronic, dub and R&B, led by somewhat ethereal vocals and an inventive lyricism that instantly engages. Having released her first album in 2015, it’s a little misleading to characterize her as a new artist, but that didn’t stop the Latin Grammys from also nominating her for Best New Artist this past November. Elsa y Elmar is poised to grow in 2020, with what seems like boundless creativity.

Megan Thee Stallion

Meg Thee Stallion had a crazy 2019. She released the EP Tina Snow in June 2018.[5] She signed to 300 Entertainment in November 2018, making her the first female rapper on the label.[6] Her first full-length project, Fever, was released on May 17, 2019.

Also worth noting: Megan Thee Stallion is already ringing in 2020 by sending Twitter into a frenzy. The rapper shared two snapshots on social media on Wednesday of herself next to none other than Beyoncé and her daughter Blue Ivy. 

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Happy 2020 🤘🏽 @beyonce

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Carlie Hanson

Hanson was born and raised in Onalaska, Wisconsin. She was inspired to become a singer by Justin Bieber, and at 14, she and a friend began posting cover songs on YouTube, hoping to follow Bieber’s path.

In May 2016, while working as a cashier at McDonald’s, Hanson entered a local iHeart Radio contest to see Zayn in concert.[2] As her entry, she recorded a video of herself singing “Pillowtalk” by Zayn while sitting in a parked car outside a shopping mall. She posted the video to Instagram, and it was quickly reposted by iHeart, drawing significant attention.

In January 2019, Hanson supported Yungblud on a series of shows in Europe. She then signed with Warner Bros. Records in February 2019,[11] and Primary Wave Music in March 2019.[12][13] On April 26, 2019, Hanson released “Back in my Arms”.[14] The song was later announced to be the lead single from her debut EPJunk.[15] On May 24, 2019, she released “WYA”, the second single from Junk.[16] Later that day, Taylor Swift added another of Hanson’s songs, “Back in My Arms”, to her Apple Music playlist.

Adia Victoria

She is a poet and singer and songwriter, known for her “gothic blues” musical style, based in Nashville, T.N. Instead of following the model of the folks that she saw around her who had been worn down by white supremacy, poverty, and oppression in the rural South Carolina town she grew up in, Victoria set off to shape a life of her own making. She dropped out of school and worked a series of odd jobs. At 18 she went to Paris and then spent time in Brooklyn, Atlanta, and now is based in Nashville. Victoria is a polymath who studied ballet, acting, wrote poetry, before finding a home in the blues. It was when a friend gave Victoria an acoustic guitar that things began to click. “I fell in love with the practice, the discipline of learning. It was the first time in my life that I felt capable of learning and progressing at something.” According to Victoria, this practice was a lifesaver. “I don’t know if I would be alive if I had not found that. Had I not found this outlet of expression. Probably in prison or dead.”

Her practice has been beyond worthwhile.

Nasty Cherry

When Charli XCX first announced the band Nasty Cherry, she hailed them as a badass “girl gang,” which is true if you’ve ever seen them. They’re a group of four young women with ’70s shags who look tough in leather jackets and sing songs about getting it on with your dad. They made their Instagram and Netflix debut this year on the series I’m with the Band, which chronicles the formation of the band.

Donna Missal

New Jersey singer-songwriter Donna Missal’s star has risen thanks to her smoky, swoon-worthy voice, plus some choice collaborations with Macklemore and Rudimental. Missal’s grandmother was a songwriter in the 1940s; her father was a musician in the 1980s. She recorded her own song “Keep Lying” in 2015, hoping other performers would cover it. Her version went viral and got 1.5 million plays on streaming services. She put out her first album This Time, on Harvest in 2018.[4]

The Rap Girl

Born January 2, 1996, Daisha McBride (The Rap Girl) is from Knoxville, Tennessee. Her nickname? She got it in high school for being one the kids always freestyling in the lunch room. Now based in Nashville, T.N., she was named by the Nashville Scene as “Best Hip Hop Act” and “Hip Hop Newcomer of the Year” in 2018.

Madison Cunningham

Orange County, CA native, Madison Cunningham, possesses a keen understanding of songcraft that is perplexing for someone who is just 22-years-old. With an ear for melody that is reminiscent of early Joni Mitchell and approach to guitar and vocals that isn’t far off from long past heroes of Jeff Buckley or Nick Drake, Madison exhibits a unique ability to keep the listener on the edge. She first picked up a guitar at age 7, and by age 12 was singing and performing alongside her five siblings in church. By the age of 15, Madison realized songwriting was a passion she wanted to pursue. It was a happenstance meeting with producer Tyler Chester (Blake Mills, Sara Watkins) 6 years ago that helped Madison start to develop her approach as a songwriter. Now at the age of 22, Madison is a frequent guest on Chris Thile’s Live From Here and has toured with Punch Brothers, Andrew Bird and Lucius among others. Her Verve Forecast debut full-length album ‘Who Are You Now’ released 8/16.

Maisie Peters

Brighton musician Maisie Peters describes her sound as “emo organic girl pop” – and there’s something of Noughties staple Kate Nash in her music’s playful acerbity. It’s a little more shimmering and delicate than that, but the lyrics have the same bite. “Who was your biggest fan and oldest friend?… Well that was all me/ But this is on you,” she sings on “This Is On You”. “It’s your bed babe, it’s your funeral.” (AP)

Orla Gartland

Orla Gartland (born 3 February 1995) is an Irish singer-songwriter and guitarist from Dublin who gained popularity from posting cover songs on her YouTube account. At present, her YouTube channel has received over 15 million views in total.[1] On 24 May 2019, Gartland released a four-song EP Why Am I Like This?[9]. On 1 November 2019, she released a new single Figure It Out, and announced it would form part of her upcoming EP Freckle Season, alongside previous single Did It To Myself, to be released 21 February 2020.


Doja Cat

Doja Cat: Doja Cat blends Hip Hop and R&B in her own unique style. Singles like “Mooo!” and “Tia Tamera” helped create a viral buzz around the Los Angeles native. In November 2019, Doja released her 2nd studio album Hot Pink that debuted at #19 on the Billboard top 200.

Londynn B

Londynn B made her world debut this year on Netflix’s show Rythm + Flow. SHEESH. Take note.

girl in red

girl in red: 20 year old Norwegian singer Marie Ulven seemed to come out of nowhere with a dreamy new take on bedroom indie pop. Her music sweetly sums up all too relatable misgivings of heading into adulthood like depression, insecurity, and unrequited love. Considering she’s only been making music for a little under three years and already making major waves, there is no doubt that this is just the start of something big. 


Stella Bennett (born 2000), known professionally as Benee (/ˈbɛniː/, stylised BENEE, formerly spelt Bene) is a New Zealand musician from Grey Lynn in Auckland. She is best known for her 2018 single “Soaked”, which reached number 14 on the New Zealand singles chart and was certified platinum.

Isabela Meced

Isabela Merced: Isabela Merced’s catchy single “Papi,” where she makes it clear that relationships will be on her terms and she stands on her own, flew up the US top 40 charts. So in addition to her being a movie star (she acted in Instant Family and Sicario: Day of the Soldado), we can add bad-ass pop star to her resume as well.


Koffee: In a brief span of time, 19 year old Koffee (aka Mikayla Simpson) has risen from social media sensation to one of the most heralded artists in reggae. After some immediate buzz around her first few singles, she released “Toast” late in 2018 – an anthemic song that has resonated with audiences worldwide. Her Rapture EP followed in 2019, along with tours in the UK and opening for Daniel Caesar’s US tour. Her EP was included in this year’s Grammy nominations for Best Reggae Album, earning Koffee the accolade for the youngest artist ever nominated in the category. With a new album on the horizon and a new single “W” featuring Gunna already bubbling up, 2020 looks to be a huge year for Koffee.

Nina Nesbitt

Nina Lindberg Nesbitt is a Scottish singer and songwriter. She is managed by Lucy Cowen of Urethra Records. She has two top 40 singles, and is known for her single “Stay Out”, which peaked at 21 on the UK Singles Chart in April 2013. As a songwriter, she has written for artists including Jessie WareOlivia HoltDon Diablo and The Shires. In February 2019, Nesbitt released her second studio album, The Sun Will Come Up, the Seasons Will Change.

Mia Gladstone

Her chilled out fusion of pop, R&B, and jazz is already grabbing everyone’s attention with her mesmerizing DIY visuals leaving them hooked. Gladstone’s effortless ease and abundant enthusiasm shine through in her work, making her a promising young voice on the precipice of greatness.

Joy Crookes

Joy Crookes is a Bangladeshi-Irish neo soul singer-songwriter from South London. She incorporates details about relationships, self-reliance, her culture, her South London roots and her identity in her music.


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