Barnard alumna and neo-soul musician Ebonie Smith, founded Gender Amplified, a movement to support women in music production, with a focus on teaching young girls technical skills and giving them confidence to create (not just perform) music.

Spearheaded by Ebonie, Barnard will host the inaugural Gender Amplified Music Festival, gathering women and girls from across the country. Gender Amplified is a movement and music festival that aims to celebrate Women in music production, raise their visibility and develop a pipeline for girls and young women to get involved behind the scenes as music producers. Learn more about the movement at www.genderamplified.com, and attend the festival at Barnard College on September 28, 2013.

We caught up with the Memphis native and asked her about her personal Top 5 female producers in the game…

It’s difficult to list my favorite women in music production because there are so few of them who are well known! Nonetheless, below are my picks. This list is less about clout or credits and more about artistic output and creative aesthetics that I admire in a producer. The ranking is also negligible. They might as well be alphabetized. They’re all equally awesome to me. Ready for 1-5?


Missy Elliott

Missy’s place on this list is non-negotiable. As obvious as her presence is (wish I could be more creative here), she has truly earned her place among the top music producers ever, male or female. She has an excellent blend of artistic merit and commercial viability/pop appeal. I picked a throwback Missy track called “That’s What Little Girls Are Made Of” that she wrote and produced for Raven Symoné in 1993 before breaking as a solo artist.


Emily Wright

Emily Wright is a pop music sensation. She is signed to Dr. Luke’s Perscription Songs music publishing company and has engineered several of the Top 40 hits associated with the publisher. Her amazing work as a vocal producer is also a skill in her production arsenal. Basically, she’s worked with everyone on the radio. Get familiar.


Ester Dean

Ms. Dean is the artistic force behind several of our favorite dancefloor hits by Rihanna. She has also been nominated for countless Grammys for her work with artists such as Katy Perry, Chris Brown, and Beyonce. I admire her most for how she’s aligned herself within the industry and for her business savvy in addition to her creative contributions. I have included “Rude Boy”, a well-known Rihanna track that she produced in collaboration with production duo Stargate.


Santi White (aka. Santigold)

The first time I heard Santigold’s 2008 release Santogold, I nearly passed out. She is an incredible producer. In addition to producing her own music, she has served as the artistic visionary behind other artists like Res, Lily Allen and Ashlee Simpson. Though she collaborates with a number of beatmakers in the industry, it’s clear that she has a hold on constructing her own unique voice and using music technologies to perpetuate her sonic identity.


JD Samson

JD Samson is a part of the Brooklyn-based production team MEN. She is also a member of Le Tigre. Her production work pushes the boundaries of traditional punk rock and electronic music by employing a wide range of DIY studio techniques to create interesting sounds and grooves. In addition to her work as a producer, I also appreciate her role as an advocate for LGBTQ rights.

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