There are cool guitarists, and then there’s Nita Strauss. Starting off in all-female tribute act the Iron Maidens, Strauss soon rose to international stardom playing guitar alongside some of rock and metal’s biggest names. But even though Nita has the appearance and technical ability of a Norse goddess, she practices her craft with self-awareness, humility, and a sense of responsibility to the audience that so loves her work.
For these reasons and more, we decided to put together a list of 10 reasons why Nita Strauss is fucking awesome. The hardest part of writing this piece? Limiting it to only 10…
She plays guitar for Alice fucking Cooper
Let’s just get the obvious out of the way: Nita plays guitar for none other than the king of shock rock, Alice Cooper. While this might not say a huge amount about her as a person — other than that she has excellent taste — it’s pretty damn awesome as a fact. If you’ve ever caught Alice on the road in the past couple of years, you’ve no doubt seen Nita there, looking like a Valkyrie who’s taming the solo of “Feed My Frankenstein.”
She fights against the stereotype of the egotistical lead guitarist
There’s this idea of lead guitarists being inherently full of themselves due to their own musical wizardry. Not Nita, though — if anything, she’s quick to speak out against egos in the industry. “Some of the musicians that preach humility are the ones most known for being prima donnas behind the scenes,” she told the Daily Stoic. “It’s one reason why my favorite shirts to wear on stage say ‘Ego Kills Talent’ and ‘Stay Humble or Be Humbled’, respectively… a reminder to myself, music fans and other artists that it doesn’t have to be like that.”
She’s the first female guitarist signed by Ibanez.
Strauss would be quick to note that she’s not the first great female guitarist — but she does have a pretty rad ‘first’ to her name. In 2018, she became Ibanez’s first-ever signature female guitarist with the release of her JIVA10. As she told Music Radar, “To be the first female signature artist and see my name up there with Vai, Satriani and Gilbert — that’s what I’ve dreamed of since the very beginning.”
By the way, our friends at Find My Guitar just published a study about the small number of female artists that have a signature guitar. They analyzed the top guitar brands and found that out of 217+ artists with a non-limited-time electric signature guitar, only 12 (5.4%) are women! No bueno and hopefully trailblazers like Nina can help be the path to change here.
She wants her fans to be as in shape as she is.
Part of the power of Strauss’ performances is her physicality; she can leap around Alice Cooper’s elaborate set with jaguar-like agility. But Nita doesn’t just keep up with a strict diet and exercise regiment, she also tries to share her fitness knowledge with her fans. Last year, the guitarist launched Nita Strauss: Body Shred, a challenge inviting her fans to try and get in shape along with her. As she told Kerrang!, “Your body is a Ferrari — don’t give it the regular gas, give it the premium!”
She has a black cat named Pantera.
While Nita’s pet might not have anything to do with her playing, it’s still pretty awesome! Followers of Nita’s Instagram have no doubt seen her cat Pantera, who keeps her company during promotional sessions and is apparently going through a hard scratching phase. It’s worth noting that black cats are usually last to get adopted due to superstitious nonsense, so Nita’s also raising a feline who might not have a home otherwise. D’AW.
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She’s a virtuosic guitarist who’s okay with supporting the main event.
It’s musical tradition for lead guitarists to crave the spotlight, often resulting in conflict between them and their lead singer. But as Alice Cooper’s guitarist, Strauss is okay letting the shock rocker take center stage. “We’re a supporting act to Alice,” Strauss told Kerrang! last year. “There’s this invisible line on stage that we don’t cross. If Alice wants us to take the front stage, we will run with it, but it’s his show, and we’re conscious of that…We have to give the crowd that guitar hero experience while also not taking anything away from Alice.”
She’s a descendant of one of classical music’s most profound composers.
‘Strauss’ isn’t Nita’s stage name — one of her ancestors is none other than Johan Strauss, the Austrian composer whose work changed the world of dance music. With tunes like “The Blue Danube” (you know it from pretty much every slo-mo scene in every comedy ever made) and his opera Die Fledermaus, Strauss became one of classical music’s most revered composers. Whether or not he would headbang to his descendent’s lightning-fast solos, we can only hope.
She wrote a WWE theme.
With her 2018 solo album Controlled Chaos, Nita’s guitar capabilities reached a whole new audience group — including athletes in her favorite sport, who took note of one track in particular. The WWE chose Nita’s song “Mariana Trench” as the theme song for NXT Takeover. “Triple H actually chose the song himself, which was such an honor,” Nita told Loudwire with her classic humility and grace. “Once again, just as a fan, the fact that he even knows about my music was absolutely mind blowing.”
She’s not afraid to fangirl out.
At this point in her career, Strauss is up there with greats like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani — but that doesn’t mean she’s not a fan like most of us at heart. “I recently got an award called the Inspire Award, and the company She Rocks surprised me by having Steve Vai present the award to me,” Strauss told Kerrang! “I was just standing on the side of the stage trying not to cry because I had to play, and I was hearing from my hero how I’ve inspired people…You can never lose that sense of enchantment. If you do, you need to go out and work at a bank, and see how enchanting that is.”
She’s a role model to female guitarists everywhere.
Talking about Nita Strauss as a fangirl, a fitness buff, and a cat owner boils down to one thing: Nita is a woman who loves playing guitar, just like many other women out there. In an industry where female empowerment often takes a backseat to female sexuality, Strauss is a reminder to all girls and women in the world that with plenty of hard work, they too can make music that sounds like a steel mill being destroyed by a lightning bolt. She’s more than just a talented musician, she’s an inspiration, and as such she’s nothing short of incredible.
Words by Chris Krovatin