Blues singer Tracy Chapman has defended Madonna's continuing reign over the pop charts - insisting the Queen of Pop is battling deep-rooted sexism to stay current in the music industry.
The Fast Car songwriter has spoken of her fears for ageing female artists, and praises the 50-year-old's ability to stay popular with fans of all ages - 25 years after first shooting to fame.
But Chapman believes the Material Girl star is a one-off - accusing fans and industry insiders of holding older male rockers in high esteem, while ignoring the efforts of mature women who try to maintain a career.
She tells Britain's The Guardian newspaper, "Is it harder for women in the industry in general? Definitely.
"I was trying to make a case for Madonna the other day, saying that she's to be admired for her longevity in a genre that has mostly been for younger acts."
And Chapman admits she gets angry when people suggest Madonna should pass-on her crown to a younger pop star.
She adds, "Men are able to sustain a career into their 50s and 60s and still present themselves as sex symbols. With women on the other hand, people say, 'Why doesn't she retire?' It's just so unfair. So I have to give props to Madonna."
However, Madonna doesn't seem to be letting her age hold her back - the pop superstar has released a her 11th studio album, Hard Candy, embarked on a huge sold-out world tour, made her directorial debut, celebrated her 50th birthday and divorced Guy Ritchie in less than a year (08).