Why 2001 was a huge year for black women in music

In 2001, a grand total of 15 songs spent time atop the Billboard Hot 100.

For the uninitiated, the music publication’s weekly ranking compiles data collected by Nielsen SoundScan regarding sales performance and radio airplay, ranking the 100 most successful. The list is the industry standard. Reaching the top is big business. And 20 years ago, only 15 songs made it.

Of those 15 songs, six of them – or 40% – were by black women. To put that in some context, black women were only responsible for 22% of #1 hits in 2020. In 2019, just 12%.

Quite simply, 2001 was a major year for black women in music.

Although their contributions continue to be felt year after year, regardless of their performance on the charts, one look at their full impact two decades ago is enough to make the less sentimental among us yearn for a time travel. After all, it was the year that gave us landmark albums by Destiny’s Child, Janet Jackson and Missy Elliotintroduced us Alicia’s Keysforced us to say goodbye to Aliyah and saw whitney houston earn exactly what his estimable talent was worth.


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