Breaking Records, Breaking Ground: Celebrating the Women in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame - The JUNO Awards

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it’s essential to recognize the extraordinary women in Canadian music who have boldly shaped genres, challenged norms, and championed future generations of female artists. In an industry historically dominated by men, eleven remarkable solo female artists have rightfully claimed their spots in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. From classical opera singers to rock’n’roll icons, their influence radiates beyond the stage, highlighting the diverse and dynamic talent of Canadian women across various genres.

Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell emerged from the folk music scene of the 1960s becoming one of the most influential singer-songwriters of all time. Known for her seminal albums Blue, Court and Spark, and Hejira, Mitchell’s confessional lyrics and haunting voice have inspired some of the world’s biggest artists from Taylor Swift to Madonna. In a nod to her groundbreaking influence, Mitchell was honoured with induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1981, making history as the first woman to receive the honour.


Maureen Forrester

Maureen Forrester, distinguished in the realm of opera music, was celebrated for her remarkable contralto voice, likened to a trumpet for its power and clarity. From her professional debut in 1951, she captivated audiences with her versatility and mastery of the vocal arts. From the operas of Wagner and Verdi to the lieders of Mahler and Brahms, Forrester’s repertoire spanned centuries and genres solidifying her legacy as one of Canada’s greatest and best-known classical singers. 

Anne Murray

Over four decades, Anne Murray‘s career has solidified her status as one of the most successful and beloved artists in Canadian music history. As the first Canadian female solo singer to reach No.1 on the U.S. charts for her signature song “Snowbird”, Murray paved the way for an entire generation of female artists in Canada who came after her. Her induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1993 celebrated her extraordinary achievements, including her record-setting 25 JUNO Awards.

Shania Twain

Shania Twain, often hailed as the Queen of Country Pop, shattered barriers and redefined country music with her genre-bending sound. Her album Come On Over remains one of the best-selling country albums of all time, featuring iconic hits like “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” and “That Don’t Impress Me Much.” Twain’s induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2011 celebrated her trailblazing career and her enduring impact as the top-selling female artist in country music history.

k.d. lang

Known for her show-stopping vocals, playfully rebellious attitude and signature style, 8x JUNO winner k.d. lang is a force to be reckoned with. Continuously pushing boundaries, lang has earned both critical praise and commercial triumph with her genre-defying mix of country and pop ballads exemplified by the iconic 1992 hit “Constant Craving.” Beyond her musical achievements, lang’s advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights has earned her widespread admiration. 

Alanis Morissette

At a time when women-helmed rock music wasn’t seen as commercially viable Alanis Morissette entered the scene with her raw emotion and unapologetic lyricism changing the industry forever. Her album ​​Jagged Little Pill became a cultural phenomenon upon its release in 1995, becoming the highest-selling debut album by a female artist in the U.S. and the best-selling debut album ever worldwide. Her fearless approach to music not only resonated with audiences but also paved the way for a new era of female vulnerability and empowerment in music.

2015 JUNO Awards. Hall of Fame inductee Alanis Morissette. FirstOntario Centre, Hamilton, Ontario, March 15, 2015. Photo: CARAS\iPhoto.

Sarah McLachlan

Sarah McLachlan is best known for her tender lyrics and emotional ballads like the hugely successful hits “Angel” and “Building a Mystery.” Beyond her musical contributions, McLachlan made waves by founding the Lilith Fair tour, a groundbreaking concert tour that celebrated female artists. Over its three-year span, Lilith Fair raised an impressive $7 million for women’s charities, while also propelling the careers of countless female performers making it the most successful all-female music event of its time.

Jann Arden

Jann Arden‘s introspective lyrics and soulful voice have made her one of Canada’s most cherished singer-songwriters. Arden’s career has spanned multiple decades, producing  timeless hits that explore the complexities of the human experience like her beloved songs “Insensitive” and “Good Mother.” Outside of her music career, Arden’s candid humour and authenticity have endeared her to fans across the country.

50th Annual JUNO Awards Broadcast. Performer Jann Arden at the National Music Centre in Calgary, AB. Photo Credit: CARAS/Neil Zeller

Deborah Cox

An international icon, Deborah Cox has been entertaining and captivating audiences as both a musician and actress for over 30 successful years. With powerhouse vocals and a dynamic stage presence she has earned numerous awards and record-breaking achievements holding the then-record for the longest-running No. 1 R&B single of all time for her track “Nobody’s Supposed to Be Here.” In 2022, the R&B singer made history as the first Black woman to be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

Terri Clark

Renowned for her down-to-earth charm and authentic country sound Terri Clark’s music is deeply rooted in her rural upbringing and working-class roots. Chart-topping hits like “Better Things to Do” and “Girls Lie Too” have firmly established her as one of Canada’s most successful country artists. Notably, Clark holds the prestigious honour of being the only Canadian female member of the esteemed Grand Ole Opry.

Diane Dufresne

For over six decades, Diane Dufresne has been one of the most celebrated and beloved French performing artists in Canadian music. One of the first French-speaking performers to sing “the Quebec accent”, Dufresne’s talent and creativity have been recognized globally with numerous accolades and awards. In 2023 she made history as the first Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee who performs entirely in French. 

Feature image: 2011 Juno Awards Broadcast. Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Shania Twain. Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario. March 27, 2011. Photo: CARAS/iPhoto