Women Who Rock: Greatest Breakthrough Moments

The achievements that changed everything, from Bessie Smith to Adele

1956: The Chantels Get Together in Parochial School

The Chantels
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

They meet singing in the school choir at St. Anthony of Padua, in the Bronx, and launch the girl-group sound that still rocks us today. None of these five black Catholic schoolgirls was older than 17, but lead singer Arlene Smith had a voice that could – and still can – raise the roof. Classics such as "Maybe" (written by Smith) paved the way for immortal girl gangs like the Shangri-Las, the Crystals and the Chiffons.

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