By Shelly Allen
Many are familiar with Gwen Stefani’s story, but few realize the impact of her personal yet very public journey and its influence on women both young and old. Her Just a Girl lyrics and performance became the anthem of women across the globe. The personal power she attained and has maintained has kept her relevant well into her 40’s.
Gwen Stefani was born in Fullerton, California on October 3, 1969. At age 17, Gwen joined her brother’s band, No Doubt as their second vocalist. It was then she met bassist and future boyfriend, Tony Kanal. Stefani put her full faith and heart into her relationship with her boyfriend, as many young women do.
“…all I ever did was look at Tony and pray that God would let me have a baby with him. I was really passive, all I cared about was being in love.”
Over the next seven years, No Doubt saw a series of changes with lead vocalist John Spences’ suicide in 1987 (placing Gwen at the helm) and brother Erics’ departure from the band in 1994. It was around the same time Tony Kanal, after seven years called the relationship quits. And this my friends, is where the real story of Gwen Stefani begins.
Heav’n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn’d, Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn’d.
William Congreve, in The Mourning Bride, 1697
They say the Universe doesn’t always give you what you want, but it certainly always gives you what you need. One of the most difficult things in life is dealing with heartache. In Stefani’s case, she was in love and the only future she could see was in the eyes of Tony Kanal. As a woman, she placed all her hopes and dreams on marriage and babies with her boyfriend.
“I remember when I was in school, they would ask, ‘What are you going to be when you grow up?’ and then you’d have to draw a picture of it. I drew a picture of myself as a bride.”
As their relationship soured, something extraordinary happened to Gwen Stefani. She discovered who she was. It was through the adversity of heartache she discovered the power that lied within.
Creativity struck like a lightening bolt and Stefani went to work penning some of the most notable lyrics of our time. Just A Girl, Don’t Speak, Excuse Me Mr, and Spiderwebs, are just a few of the potent lyrics that streamed from Stefani’s pen. Upon discovering at what she was good, Gwen Stefani also discovered her own personal power, relevance and self worth.
“I was a different person before I started to write. When I realized I could be a songwriter and that people would listen – that was when I started feeling good in my life. It was such a turning point to find that I had a talent and I had something to contribute, somewhere.”
Her female angst became the anthem of young women around the world. People sat up and took notice and women rejoiced as the once love struck female became the ultimate reflection of modern day girl power. Gwen Stefani had something to say and she was going to say it with a vengeance!
And with a vengeance she did. To watch Stefani perform her songs from No Doubt’s 1995 Tragic Kingdom album, is to watch a woman expressing her full power and potential. She was tough when she needed to be and soft when the moment commanded it. She truly was coming into her own and we loved watching every moment of it!
Through the years we’ve watched Gwen Stefani create success in music with her band No Doubt, as well as in her solo career with two albums, and for a time, everybody who was anybody found unbridled success with Gwen Stefani featured on their singles. We’ve also watched her create success in fashion with her L.A.M.B. clothing line, and find love again, along with the family that had eluded her in the early years.
In 2012, Gwen Stefani regrouped with No Doubt to release their first album in 10 years, Push and Shove. In 2014, Gwen took on The Voice as the most beloved female coach ever and turned out two more solo singles, Baby Don’t Lie and Spark the Fire featuring Pharrell. Stefani also collaborated with Maroon 5 and is featured on their single, My Heart is Open.
At 45 years old, Gwen Stefani has accomplished more than most people would accomplish in two lifetimes. She blossomed into one of the most fierce song writers and performers of all time and has become the female icon of yesterday, today and tomorrow. She not only embodies the power of the female energy but also it’s subtle, delicate and insecure nature. As Gwen Stefani reinvents herself yet again, her journey continues to inspire and relate to so many: young and old, rich and poor, women and men alike. Gwen Stefani, quite simply, is the most relevant woman of our time.
“Music has this emotional thing to it, and it touches people in crazy ways. The power of having that power is something that, once you have it, you don’t want it to ever end.”