All three of those influential publications were founded in California, so it’s fitting that San Francisco became a hub for women music journalists in the 1990s before their migration to the East Coast’s biggest publications. Evelyn McDonnell became SF Weekly’s music editor in 1992 and moved on to take the same job at the Village Voice in 1996, but not before overseeing an intern named Sia Michel. Before becoming today’s deputy culture editor at The New York Times, Michel was the first woman editor-in-chief of Spin, where Caryn Ganz climbed the music journalism ladder, eventually becoming deputy editor at Rolling Stone and then pop music critic at The New York Times. Ganz has joined other rock critics like the inimitable Jessica Hopper (who, true story, penned her first piece of music journalism because of lousy coverage of Babes in Toyland) in using her influence to sing the praises of acts ranging from Haim to Lizzo to Chastity Belt. And when Rolling Stone started 2020 out on the right note, it was women—Brittany Spanos followed by Emma Carmichael—whose writing dominated the centerfold features.
Our understanding of time may be linear, but cultural trajectories rarely are. The volume and tone of the mainstream media’s recognition of our communities has been a similarly fickle thing. To take their words and hold them up to the light isn’t an act of independence so much as accountability. We’ve always been here, taking music to new places, and we always will be. Or, as Mamie Smith sang in the song that started it all, “There’s a change in the ocean / Change in the deep blue sea… I’ll tell you folks, there ain’t no change in me.”