The Billboard Women in Music 2014 Trailblazer honoree on fronting a rock band, how 2014 ranked and which female artists she learns from.
Hayley Williams turns 26 on Dec. 27, which means she has fronted Paramore for more than a third of her life. Long enough that on her first Warped Tour in 2005, the then-teenager was the only female performer. "It was very lonely," Williams says over the phone from Nashville, where she's visiting her grandparents. "But I don't think I understood it would be nice -- and also motivating -- to see other girls out."
Nearly a decade later, women dominate pop, but not rock. Yet Williams, who lives in Los Angeles, still matters -- more than ever. She is a dye-punk heroine who can pass for an electro-house diva, as she did by lending her voice to Zedd's "Stay the Night," which wrapped up 11 weeks at No. 1 on the Dance/Mix Show Airplay chart in February. She also is a post-emo veteran who maintains her base with adventures like this past spring's four-day Paramore fan-cruise to the Bahamas, Parahoy!, and this summer's co-headlining tour with a reunited Fall Out Boy. And she's an all-ages singer who can introduce Minecraft kids to guitar music, as Paramore did this year with "Ain't It Fun," its first Hot 100 top 10 hit. "If young kids listening to the radio hear guitars and decide to pick up one -- in five or 10 years, they're the ones changing the world."