The (Only) 10 Female Composers Who Wrote For Disney
It’s time to celebrate female composers.
On the Disney Fandom website, which is essentially Wikipedia for everything Disney, you can search by the tag ‘Composers’, which will bring up a list of every composer associated with Disney in some way. There are a total of 183 composers in this list.
Of these 183 composers, 10 are women.
Let’s break that down.
10/183 composers who have contributed to something made by Disney are women. In this list, there are also 5 more women who have written music but not for Disney, and are listed for voicing a Disney character. In 2 cases, a woman has been credited with providing a song for a movie, but these women have been discounted where the original song was written by a man. A full list of all 7 women can be found as the bottom of this page.
Disclaimer: Many of these composers have equally impressive careers outside Disney, but this article is just focused on their contributions to the Disney universe.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the stats.
Of these 10 female composers:
- 8 have recurring credits
- 4 are part of male/female writing duos — but 1 of these women also has solo Disney composing credits
- 9 are American (including 1 Latino-American and 1 Japanese-American), 1 is Japanese
- 0 are Black women.
So who are these composers? Let’s take a closer look at their credits and careers…
1. Kristen Anderson-Lopez
Kristen Anderson-Lopez is an American composer and lyricist, most famous for her contributions to the music of Frozen (2013), with her husband, Robert Lopez. Her Disney credits with Lopez also include:
- Finding Nemo: The Musical (2007)
- Winnie the Pooh (2011)
- Frozen Fever (2015)
- Contributions to Coco (2017)
- Frozen II (2019)
- Wandavision (2021)
2. Deborah Lurie
Deborah Lurie is an American composer, arranger and music producer, best known for her contributions to the pop industry. But her credits with Disney are also many:
- Prom (2011)
- Invisible Sister (2015)
- Contributions to the scores of Hercules: The Animated Series (1998), Bubble Boy (2001), Alice in Wonderland (2010).
3. Germaine Franco
Perhaps the most famous on the list, since recently writing the score for Encanto (2021), Germaine Franco was the “first Latina invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences music branch and to receive the Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature” (Disney Fandom). She produced, arranged and orchestrated the 2018 Oscar-winning song, Remember Me, from ‘Coco’ — written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez! Her credits with Disney include:
- Orchestrations for Bolt (2008) and Mars Needs Moms (2011)
- Contributions to Coco (2017)
- Encanto (2021)
- Uncredited Midi Programmer for Toy Story 3 (2010)
4. Jennifer Love Hewitt
Jennifer Love Hewitt is an American actress, singer and producer, best known for her contributions to the film and pop industries. Her contribution to Disney was for the end credits of the TV show The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, with a song entitled:
- ‘I’m Gonna Love You (Madellaine’s Love Song)’, which she also performed.
5. Peggy Lee
Peggy Lee, born Norma Deloris Egstrom, was a singer, actress and composer, with a career spanning almost 7 decades, between 1937 and 2000. During her lifetime, she wrote and co-wrote over 270 songs. She was the first female composer to contribute music to anything produced by Disney, having co-written the songs for the film Lady and the Tramp, with Sonny Burke, in 1955.
- Contributions to music, lyrics and score for Lady and the Tramp (1955)
6. Mary Rodgers
Mary Rodgers was an American screenwriter, author and composer, best known for writing the original novel and later the screenplay of Freaky Friday. She was also the daughter of Broadway composer, Richard Rogers. She wrote the music for the Broadway Musical Once Upon A Mattress, which was later adapted into a Disney film in 2005.
- Once Upon A Mattress (2005)
7. Yoko Shimomura
Yoko Shimomura is a Japanese composer, arranger and pianist, known best for her compositional works in the video game industry. Many of her works have been released as albums and piano scores. She is the only female, non-American citizen to ever have written music for Disney.
- Multiple credits on the Kingdom Hearts (2002–2020) video game series
8. Patricia (Patty) Silversher
Patricia (Patty) Silversher is an American songwriter, best known as part of the composing duo Silversher & Silversher, with her husband, Michael Silversher. Together, they have a huge amount of credits with Disney, including, but not limited to:
- Multiple contributions to the Mickey Mouse franchise (1983–1992)
- 2 musical contributions to Ducktales (1987–1990)
- Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh (1996)
- Multiple contributions to music for The Muppets franchise (1994–1999)
- The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000)
- Additional uncredited music for Aladdin (1992)
9. Hikaru “Utada”
Hikaru Utada, also known as “Utada”, is a Japanese–American singer-songwriter, composer and producer. In 2009, The Japan Times named her as “the most influential artist of the decade”. She wrote and produced four theme songs for the Kingdom Hearts video game franchise.
- Multiple credits on the Kingdom Hearts video game series (2002–2020)
10. Cynthia Weil
Cynthia Weil is an American songwriter and composer, who together with her husband, Barry Mann, has written songs for a great number of commercial artists. In 1987, Weil and Mann were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Though she has many independent writing credits, all of Weil’s contributions to Disney were collaborative with her husband.
- ‘Here You Come Again’, heard on The Muppet Show episode 318 (1979)
- ‘On Broadway’, heard on Kermit Unpigged (1994)
- Muppet Treasure Island (1996)
Be sure to clap for this article and share it with your network to let Disney know we want to hear from more female composers! And leave a comment below with your answer to this question:
Who is your favourite female composer?
To really make a difference, share this post and tag your favourite female composer to let them know you appreciate their work. As a female composer myself, believe me, it’s a huge boost.
Discounted from original list:
- Debi Derryberry — though the website counts her as a composer because she does compose music, she has not composed anything for Disney. She is listed for her voiceover contributions to characters in Disney movies and video games.
- Céline Dion — though her song ‘My Heart Will Go On’ was used, she was not the original composer. All the composers and lyricists of the original track were men.
- Minnie Driver — again, though the website counts her as a composer for her work, she has not written for Disney. She is listed for voicing the character of Jane Porter in Tarzan (1999),
- Desirée Goyette — Goyette’s version of “Hey, Mickey” was used in a DTV Valentine television special, but the original, sung by Toni Basil, was written and produced by men.
- Jennifer Hudson — although also a songwriter in her own right, she has never composed anything for Disney, nor has any song she composed been used in a film. She is listed here for playing Calliope in the Disney cruise-line show Hercules: The Muse-ical, which ran from 2000 to 2008, and also for modelling Tiana in the Disney Dream Portrait Series.
- Karen Mok — again, although also a songwriter in her own right, she has never written for Disney. She is listed here for contributing the Cantonese voices of Megara in Hercules (1997) and Kida Nedakh in Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001). Additionally, she played General Fang in Around the World in 80 Days (2004).
- Helen Reddy — despite an impressive compositional career, including the feminist anthem ‘I Am Woman’ (1972), Reddy also never composed for Disney. She is listed here for her role of Nora in Pete’s Dragon (1977).
Since the time of initially drafting this article, I have also been made aware of Avril Lavigne’s having written the song ‘Alice’ for the 2010 Alice in Wonderland soundtrack, but she did not appear on the original list of composers. It leads me to wonder how many women have been missed off that list, who are going unnoticed, unrecognised by mainstream media. Let me know in the comments if you can think of someone who has been missed off the list, and I’ll add them on!