What Happened To Them?: Your Favorite Female Rock Stars From The '90s

When you jam a scratched CD into your 10-year-old car’s disc player, there’s a good chance it’ll get stuck in there forever. Sure, I probably should have examined the disc beforehand. But it happened at the end of a work day, and I was a bit frazzled as is.

However, something good did come of this unfortunate incident. Since there aren’t many good radio stations around me, I typically settle for “Soft Rock” to help guide me home. This station, in general, is fond of playing Natalie Imbruglia’s hit Torn, which is great, since I’m a huge fan of screeching that song out of my vocal chords during solo drives. But during the instrumental part, I thought “Natalie Imbruglia – what ever happened to her?”

Thus, this week’s column idea was born. Today I’m going to go over some of the best female rockers from the ’90s, and help you piece together the most awesome throwback mix CD ever (that you hopefully won’t be as careless with if you play it in your car.)

Natalie Imbruglia

We’ll start with Natalie. This Aussie actually started her career as an actress, playing Beth on the Australian soap opera Neighbours. Shortly after she left the show, she started her music career by releasing her debut album Left Of The Middle in 1997. It sold over 6 million copies. Did you realize that Torn was actually a cover song? The original version was created by LA-based band Ednaswap.

Her second release, White Lilies Island, debuted in 2001. She took pride in the fact that she co-wrote all of her songs, which is partially why it was released so late. Her third album was ready in 2004, but her record label refused to release it based on the fact that it just wasn’t as radio friendly as they grew to expect. She parted ways with the label, and joined another to release 2005’s Counting Down The Days. This album brought her second biggest hit, Shiver.

Things got kind of messy with Natalie’s next few releases, and once again, she found herself parting with her record label. After a long hiatus, Natalie signed with New York based Primary Wave Music in 2013 with intentions on reviving her music career again.

Between albums, you might have seen her as a host for the Australian version of The X-Factor during its second season. She also acted in two films last year.

Shawn Colvin

My sincere apologies to those who’ll still have Sunny Came Home in their heads for the remainder of the day. Shawn actually released a bunch of other recordings prior to the song going mainstream, including a live album from 1988 and a collection of cover songs.

The album that featured Sunny Came Home, called A Few Small Repairs, won the 1998 Grammy Awards for both Song and Record of the Year and also went platinum.

Shawn released her eighth studio album in 2012, and is constantly collaborating with other musical artists, including James Taylor, Edwin McCain, and Bela Fleck. Like Natalie, she’s not afraid to make a few television appearances – In 2011, she appeared on the HBO series Treme.

She’s currently on tour through April, playing a few cities with singer-songwriter Steve Earle. She’s also a big fan of taking selfies with some of her fellow musicians. (That’s her below, with Mary Chapin Carpenter.)

Natalie Merchant

You might recognize Natalie from her super successful band 10,000 Maniacs. Natalie left in 1993 to do her own work, and released Tigerlily in 1995 which she funded all by herself. The summer during her second solo release, Ophelia, was the summer in which Sarah McLachlan asked Natalie to co-headline the Lilith Fair with her.

Despite Natalie claiming that she’d never sign with a major label again in 2003, she joined forces with Nonesuch Records in 2010. Just this month, she announced that she’ll be releasing a self-titled album under the label that’s set to be released this May.

She also had a hand in directing the documentary SHELTER: A Concert Film to Benefit Victims of Domestic Violence, which features women from New York and their experiences with domestic violence in their communities.

Sarah McLachlan

Speaking of Sarah, isn’t Surfacing the best album ever? Surfacing could honestly be a Greatest Hits compilation. The world agreed at some point, since it gained her two Grammys and four Juno awards.

You might recognize Sarah from her sad dog advertisements, but she’s done a lot more than that recently. (All jokes aside, she’s helped the ASPCA gain a ton of attention!)

Following the end of the Lillith Fair, she had two children with then-husband Ashwin Sood. In 2003, she released the album Afterglow, and used the money that was budgeted towards her first video to support numerous charities. In 2006, she released a Christmas album called Wintersong, which included numerous covers of some holiday classics.

And of course, she’s still being charitable. Sarah funds an outreach program in Vancouver that provides music education for inner city children, and three years ago, she started the Sarah McLachlan School of Music which offers free musical education for underprivileged children.


When we were first introduced to Jewel, we heard stories about how she lived in a car and wrote not-so-great poetry. Her teeth were a bit crooked, which made her pretty relatable – after all, she was a bit more like us. She created the songs that made us think our 7th grade boyfriend was our true, one and only love. And for those reasons, I absolutely adore Jewel.

If you owned Pieces Of You, here are two fun facts about it: First, Jewel was only 21 when she recorded the album (which was recorded live), and second, the album was on the Billboard 200 for two full years.

Jewel’s music became a bit more “dance party” in 2001, after her hit song Serve The Ego was released. In 2006, she moved back towards adult contemporary music with her album Goodbye Alice in Wonderland – yet unfortunately, it was one of her worst selling releases.

She tried a new genre in 2007 by attempting to go country with a new label. The change-up was pretty successful, though probably confusing for her earlier fans.

You might have caught her on a few reality TV shows, including a guest appearance on American Idol as a mentor, a co-host and judge on the songwriting competition Platinum Hit, and a judge on The Sing-Off.

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