Toronto’s Analogue Gallery shows stellar music photography throughout the year, but if you want to catch their Women in Rock exhibit, part of this year’s CONTACT Photography Festival, you’d better get there soon. Curated by Lucia Graca, who photographed several of the iconic singers herself, the exhibit pays homage to some of music’s most captivating female artists. We talked to Graca for the juicy behind-the-scenes stories on these rarely seen pictures.
10 stunning portraits of your favourite female musicians
Amy WinehouseGraca took this one at Glastonbury in 2008, at the peak of Winehouse's infamy. She says the press pit that day was filled with paparazzi, all waiting to catch Amy fall. After three perfect songs, the paps were ushered out; a minute later Winehouse went totally off the rails, but no one was there to get the shot.Lucia Graca
Debbie HarryIf you think Debbie Harry rolls out of bed looking this good, you're right. “"It was early in the day and the band was just getting up from their previous night's gig. Debbie was a little unsure if we should do the photos, as she wasn't dressed up or in make-up," said photographer Edie Steiner of the 1978 shoot.Edie Steiner
Diana RossIt's hard to imagine, now that everyone has a camera and celebrity pics outnumber paid gigs, but this stunning portrait launched Barrie Wentzell's career. He spotted Ross in a BBC cafe and asked to photograph her. The beauty of this pic landed him a job – a job, not an internship – as head photographer at Melody Maker.Barrie Wentzell
MadonnaNow home to a grocery complex with a fairly impressive cheese collection, Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens once hosted the likes of Madonna, Jean Paul Gaultier bra and all.Patrick Harbron
Florence Welch“I love shooting Florence because I shot her through her whole breakthrough moment," says Graca. Her first Florence Welch shots were taken “in a tiny tent at a tiny festival" in the north of England – now Florence + the Machine headlines Coachella. Regardless of venue size, Graca says Welch has always commanded the stage.Lucia Graca
Aretha Franklin“Aretha was soul," says photographer Barrie Wentzell. “This was a great concert. Her powerful voice was so moving, at times I felt like the old Albert Hall had turned into a gospel church in Alabama...I chose this picture because I felt it captured the power and glory of the evening as I saw and felt it."Barrie Wentzell
BjorkBjork was “very otherworldly, ethereal," says Graca of this Toronto Island performance at the short-lived Virgin Festival. “She was basically dressed in tinsel, like what you'd decorate a Christmas tree with in the 80s." But, says Graca, “if people aren't talking about you, you're doing something wrong."Lucia Graca
Sinead O'Connor“We did this press shoot and then hatched a far more radical plan to shoot a multi-layered nude shot which involved painting Sinead in blue and making multi exposures," says photographer Jill Furmanovsky.Jill Furmanovsky
Marianne Faithful“This was before artists had handlers or PR teams," says Graca, but Marianne Faithful was so unprepared for the session that photographer Terry Spencer had to take her to a drugstore to buy makeup. “She didn't have any makeup," says Graca, “and apparently she didn't have any money, either."
Nina SimoneFrancine Winham was excited when she heard Nina Simone wanted a female photographer to accompany her tour, because there weren't many at the time. Eventually Winham realized Simone wanted a black woman for the job. She didn't get the tour gig, but she did score this shot at the Newport Jazz Festival.Francine Winham
The Women In Rock Exhibition will be showing at Analogue Gallery until June 14.