Turning The Tables Turning The Tables

Turning The TablesTurning The Tables

rewind. remix. represent.

Santigold's self-titled debut combines "look what I can do" attitude with a galvanizing magic. Photo Illustration by Renee Klahr/NPR; Getty Images; Courtesy of Downtown Records hide caption

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Photo Illustration by Renee Klahr/NPR; Getty Images; Courtesy of Downtown Records

Tracy Chapman's debut album "was the music that I needed at a time when I felt pressure to know everything before it was taught," says writer and scholar Francesca T. Royster. Photo Illustration by Renee Klahr/NPR; Getty Images; Courtesy of Elektra Records hide caption

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Photo Illustration by Renee Klahr/NPR; Getty Images; Courtesy of Elektra Records

The strength with which Salt-N-Pepa delivered messages on Blacks' Magic "gave a lonely Wyoming girl a blueprint for a confidence I didn't inherently possess," writes Julianne Escobedo Shepherd. Photo Illustration by Renee Klahr/NPR; Getty Images; Courtesy of Next Plateau Records hide caption

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Photo Illustration by Renee Klahr/NPR; Getty Images; Courtesy of Next Plateau Records

Occasionally, a woman artist will make it her mission to speak as the monster others fear her to be, turning shame into strength. That's the power of Kate Bush's The Dreaming. Renee Klahr/NPR; Getty Images; Courtesy of EMI Records hide caption

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Renee Klahr/NPR; Getty Images; Courtesy of EMI Records

On Muthaland, bbymutha's songs play out as if she's rebuilding her confidence in real time. Photo Illustration by Renee Klahr, Amna Ijaz/NPR; Courtesy of The Muthaboard hide caption

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Photo Illustration by Renee Klahr, Amna Ijaz/NPR; Courtesy of The Muthaboard

When she first heard Fiona Apple's album 1996 Tidal, writer Lindsay Zoladz says the record stood out to her for how it "validated [her] experience of pain." Photo Illustration by Renee Klahr/NPR/Getty Images hide caption

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Photo Illustration by Renee Klahr/NPR/Getty Images

On The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, the singer provides a re-education in Blackness 101, in which she's both student and teacher. Photo Illustration by Renee Klahr/NPR/Getty Images hide caption

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Photo Illustration by Renee Klahr/NPR/Getty Images

On 4, Beyoncé presented a dynamic, multifaceted expression of womanhood — and took crucial steps toward claiming full artistic control over her work. Photo Illustration by Renee Klahr/NPR/Getty Images hide caption

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Photo Illustration by Renee Klahr/NPR/Getty Images

Hearing Tiger Trap's self-titled debut, released in 1993, was a turning point for writer Maria Sherman. "Tiger Trap's tender pop was punk in a hushed tone," she says. "I was, and remain, hooked." Photo Illustration: Renee Klahr/NPR; Courtesy of Michael Galinsky hide caption

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Photo Illustration: Renee Klahr/NPR; Courtesy of Michael Galinsky

PJ Harvey's Uh Huh Her was a powerful force for critic Laura Snapes. "Seeing this woman I so admired derail a linear path to greater success and greater approval – the de facto path as far as teachers were concerned – was revelatory," she writes. Photo Illustration by Renee Klahr/NPR/Getty Images hide caption

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Photo Illustration by Renee Klahr/NPR/Getty Images

The Pointer Sisters performing in New York City in 1983, the year the group released its album Break Out, which included four top 10 hits. Robin Platzer / Images Press/Getty Images hide caption

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Robin Platzer / Images Press/Getty Images

Roberta Flack in 1975. Flack's impact as a performer in the pop music space in the 1970s was sudden and massive. Over the next four decades, Flack built a legacy on a quiet belief in limitlessness. David Redfern/Getty Images hide caption

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David Redfern/Getty Images