Gabriel Vargas low res 2018

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. “One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego. “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. “This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old chief simply replied, “The one you feed.”

That Cherokee proverb means a lot to Gabriel Vargas, as does writing songs about empowerment and the women who matter the most to him.  For this  special day we asked Gabriel, a man who runs with the wolves to pay tribute to the women in music who inspire him. 

It was such an awesome exercise creating this list, as it really made me think deeply about some amazing female artists and how they have influenced the world of music and beyond. Some on this list have unfortunately passed on, but they have left a lasting impression and influence in my life. Thank you for the opportunity and Happy International Women’s Day!



  • Whitney Houston – What an amazing voice and talent. I remember my mother playing her records from a very young age and singing along to the words. Even though I was too young to comprehend the lyrics, it was the voice that captured my interest. Every now and then I will play some of her old albums and listen to these same songs from a completely different perspective, but still be in awe by here vocal range and delivery.


  • Clara Nunes – One of the most well known Brazilian artists of all time and the first female artist in Brazil to sell over 100,000 copies of a record. She passed away many years ago but her legacy still lives on through her amazing music. A couple of years ago, I travelled back to Brazil (my country of birth) and began the process of reconnecting to my roots. With music as the conduit for many of my experiences, I found Clara Nunes through the joy it brought my young 5 year old nephew when he sang her songs. There is a powerful spiritual quality to her voice and lyrics, which resonates deeply with my being.



  • Nina Simone – One day, in my late teenage years, I stumbled across this CD at my friend’s house…it belonged to his mother and the artist’s name was Nina Simone, the album was, “I Put a Spell on You.” I was so intrigued that on the way home I stopped at the shops and bought 2 of her albums. Upon first listening, I was literally mesmerized by the rawness and power of her voice. It was one of those voices that pulled you deep into the soul of the artist, and then carried you further into the heart of humanity itself. As I listened and learned more about the context behind her music, it was obvious that the distinct, raw power I heard in her voice was driven by a greater purpose. It extended beyond mere entertainment. Nina and her songs were instrumental in shaping and driving the Civil Rights Movement and was one of the first memories I have of understanding the power of words and music to evoke positive social change.


  • Carole King – The album, “Tapestry” was one of those albums that mom had on high rotation during my childhood. Again, I was quite young but was always moved by the music…and I distinctly recall looking at the album cover thinking why is this lady wearing no shoes? But, as I came to learn with a more mature perspective, that was the beauty of Carole King…her music was effortless and an authentic representation of her.


  • Pink – To be honest, it is not so much Pink’s music that inspires me, but more so her character. Of course, I know her songs here and there, but I’m much more interested and inspired by the way she unabashedly speaks her mind and carries herself – true to who she is regardless of what others may think. That to me is so courageous and powerful and why I think Pink is awesome.



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