During the 1960s, several musical genres gained popularity, including rock n’ roll and rhythm and blues.
The 60s definitely brought many changes in modern music, and leading figures in this revolution were influential female artists.
So for today’s article, we made a selection of the best 60s female singers.
From Aretha Franklin’s classics to Cher’s dance hits, get ready for a trip down memory lane – it’s time for the 60s!
Table of Contents
- 1. Diana Ross
- 2. Aretha Franklin
- 3. Janis Joplin
- 4. Brenda Lee
- 5. Patsy Cline
- 6. Dionne Warwick
- 7. Dusty Springfield
- 8. Tina Turner
- 9. Nina Simone
- 10. Martha Reeves
- 11. Cher
- 12. Barbra Streisand
- 13. Etta James
- 14. Billie Davis
- 15. Cass Elliot
- 16. Mary Wells
- 17. Karen Carpenter
- 18. Joni Mitchell
- 19. Joan Baez
- 20. Patti LaBelle
- 21. Nancy Sinatra
- 22. Alma Cogan
- 23. Lesley Gore
- 24. Eartha Kitt
- 25. Peggy March
- 26. Ronnie Spector
- 27. Fontella Bass
- 28. Shirley Bassey
- 29. Laura Nyro
- 30. Doris Day
- 31. France Gall
- 32. Françoise Hardy
- 33. Sarah Vaughan
- 34. Toni Fisher
- 35. Maureen Evans
- Best 60s Female Singers – Final Thoughts
1. Diana Ross
Many would agree that Diana Ross is one of the best vocalists of the 60s.
She rose to fame as the member of the Supremes, a group that remains one of the world’s best-selling girl groups of all time.
Despite her success with the Supremes, Ross embarked on a solo career in the 70s – and it was definitely a successful and durable one.
She continued to make chart-topping hits in the 80s and 90s, and even released songs and performed live in the past few years.
That being said, Diana Ross is one of the best 60’s female singers and a living legend.
2. Aretha Franklin
Dubbed the ‘Queen of Soul’, Aretha Franklin is also one of the most influential 60s women singers.
She was a skilled, dedicated, and conscious music artist, and she inspired many musicians that came after her.
Many of her songs are considered classics, including “Respect”, “Chain of Fools”, and “Natural Woman.”
She won 18 Grammy Awards, and she was also the first woman to be listed in the Rock and roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
All things considered, it’s no wonder that many consider Aretha Franklin one of the greatest singers of all time.
3. Janis Joplin
And the same goes for Janis Joplin – her contribution to music is undeniable.
Although her life and career were cut too short, she managed to make a huge impact on popular culture and many artists who came after her.
Besides her distinctive vocals, she was also known for her 60s hippie look and energetic live performances.
Joplin’s greatest hits include “Piece Of My Heart”, “Summertime”, and “Me & Bobby McGee.”
4. Brenda Lee
Brenda Mae Tarpley, better known as Brenda Lee, was a true creative force in the 60s.
Although she rose to fame earlier, the 60s was a time when she experimented with different genres such as country, rockabilly and pop.
Consequently, she became a member of the Rock and Roll, Country Music and Rockabilly Halls of Fame.
But she is probably best known for her song “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” – well, it’s hard to imagine the holidays without this Christmas classic.
5. Patsy Cline
Patsy Cline was an influential American singer and generally one of the best vocalists of the 20th century.
She first started singing in a church choir, before becoming a 60s star.
Cline was one of the first country artists to cross over into pop music, and her music has influenced musicians of various styles and genres.
During the 60s, she was best known for her hits “She’s Got You”, “When I Get Through with You” and “Crazy.”
6. Dionne Warwick
Just like many of her fellow 60s artists, Dionne Warwick started out as a gospel singer.
But she was also educated in music, having studied at the Hartt College of Music.
She signed her first record deal in 1962, and the rest is history.
Warwick is regarded as one of the best female singers of all time, and her musical style and expression influenced many performers of her time.
And her music still lives on – her songs “Heartbreaker” and “I Say A Little Prayer” are timeless classics.
7. Dusty Springfield
Speaking of timeless classics, Dusty Springfield’s “Son Of A Preacher Man” is one of the most iconic songs from the 60s.
Springfield was known for her powerful voice as well as iconic style characterized by evening gowns and blonde hairstyles.
She was a singer of soul, pop, and jazz, and she was one of the earliest R&B singers in the UK.
Besides being active in the music industry, Springfield presented many British TV music series Ready Steady Go!, and she also hosted her own series.
8. Tina Turner
Referred to as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, Tina Turner is certainly one of the most iconic 60s female singers.
She started out as the lead singer of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, and she eventually became one of the best-selling female artists of all time.
She even broke a Guinness World Record for the biggest audience for a solo performer.
During her career, Turner won countless awards, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Her greatest hits include “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and “The Best.”
9. Nina Simone
When thinking about the greatest female singers of all time, Nina Simone immediately comes to mind.
She was a very versatile artist, creating music in various styles including folk, gospel, jazz, pop, and classical.
Besides being a talented and authentic singer, Simone was a talented pianist and a civil rights activist.
During the 60s, she performed and spoke at civil rights meetings, and that was also a time when she recorded some of her best songs, including “Feeling Good.”
10. Martha Reeves
Martha Reeves was one of the most popular female singers in the 1960s.
She influenced many genres, including pop, Motown, and R&B.
But her biggest success came while she was the lead singer of the Motown girl group Martha and the Vandellas.
The group released many hit singles, such as “Nowhere to Run” and “Heat Wave.”
However, Martha also embarked on a solo career, and she continued performing well into her 70s.
Often referred to as the ‘Goddess of Pop’, Cher is another legendary 60s female singer that changed music history.
Known for her powerful voice and avant-garde musical style, Cher is also one of the most consistent female singers in the industry.
She rose to fame as a member of the iconic husband-wife duo Sonny & Cher, but after divorcing Sonny, she embarked on a successful solo career.
Her signature songs “Believe”, “If I Could Turn Back Time”, and “Strong Enough” became all-time hits.
And she generally became one of the world’s best-selling music artists.
12. Barbra Streisand
Recognizable by her incredible, mesmerizing voice, Barbra Streisand is a living music legend and one of the best vocalists of all time.
She has a career spanning over six decades, and it all began in the 1960s.
She released her first album, The Barbra Streisand Album, in 1963, after signing a contract with Columbia Records.
Since then, Streisand achieved great success and international fame, both as a musician and an actress.
Moreover, she is among the few performers awarded an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony.
13. Etta James
As one of the defining voices and most prominent female singers of the 60s and the 70s, Etta James certainly deserves a place on this list.
She started her career in the 50s, but she rose to prominence with songs like “At Last”, “I’d Rather Go Blind”, and “Something’s Got A Hold On Me.”
Throughout her career, she created music in various genres, including gospel, soul, jazz, blues, and R&B.
And her earthy voice was a defining component of each of her songs.
14. Billie Davis
Best known in her native UK, Billie Davis was a true star in the 60s.
Her most memorable hit is “Tell Him”, released in 1963.
But she also released other popular songs during her career, including “Angel Of The Morning.”
Although she wasn’t very popular later on, she will always be remembered for her impact on the 60s music scene.
15. Cass Elliot
Cass Elliot was also one of the most famous 60s female singers.
She was a member of the singing group the Mamas & the Papas, and after the group broke up, she embarked on a solo career.
Elliot released five solo albums, characterized by her distinctive voice and unmatched energy.
She really made her own kind of music.
16. Mary Wells
Mary Wells began her career as a teenager, singing in church and later in nightclubs.
In 1960, she signed Motown records – she was only 17 at a time.
Nevertheless, the 60s was a decade when Wells rose to prominence and became known as “the Queen of Motown.”
She is now remembered for her hits “The One Who Really Loves You”, “Two Lovers”, and the Grammy-nominated “You Beat Me to the Punch.”
ANd she is also credited for helping bring black music onto mainstream radio stations.
17. Karen Carpenter
Mainly known as a member of the folk-pop group The Carpenters, Karen Carpenter is arguably one of the most influential female figures of the 60s.
The Carpenters were pioneers of the folk-pop genre, and they produced many timeless hits such as “Top Of The World.”
They became one of the best-selling artists of all time, and their music wouldn’t be the same without Karen.
She was a talented and hard-working musician, and her soothing voice still inspires aspiring singers around the world.
18. Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell is another living legend on this list.
She started her career in the 60s, and reached peak success in the 70s.
Besides for her beautiful, soft voice, Mitchell is known for her songwriting skills – Rolling Stone called her one of the greatest songwriters ever.
She released many successful albums throughout the years, including the iconic album Blue.
Her music mostly contains elements of folk, pop, rock, and jazz, but it’s often hard to categorize it – it’s simply Joni Mitchell.
19. Joan Baez
In the 1960s, Joan Baez became a pioneer of folk music.
She was a leading figure in the New York folk revival, and she is also responsible for helping famous musicians get their start (Bob Dylan, for example.)
She was also active in the civil rights movement and protests against the Vietnam War.
All things considered, Joan Baez made a huge impact on the 60s music scene as well as culture in general.
Her most famous songs include “Diamonds and Rust” and “We Shall Overcome.”
20. Patti LaBelle
Often referred to as the “Godmother of Soul”, Patti LaBelle is also one of the most influential 1960 female singers.
Her distinctive soprano voice and performing skills brought her international fame.
It all began when she formed the group Patti LaBelle & The Bluebells – the group had several hits throughout the decade.
But later on Patti LaBelle left the group and joined the Supremes, before embarking on a solo career.
Her most memorable songs include “Somebody Love You Baby,” “You Are My Friend,” and “If You Only Knew.”
21. Nancy Sinatra
As a daughter of Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra was surrounded with music since she was a child.
But she built her own success and became one of the most prominent music artists.
She was also a fashion icon in the 60s, recognizable by her high boots and heavy make up.
After all, her biggest hit was “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’.”
She is also responsible for all-time classics “Summer Wine” and “Bang Bang.”
22. Alma Cogan
Alma Cogan was an English singer of traditional pop in the 50s and the 60s.
In fact, she was the highest paid British female entertainer at the time.
She was nicknamed the “Girl with the Giggle in Her Voice”, tha
And regarding her voice, Cogan was certainly one of the best British female vocalists in the music industry.
23. Lesley Gore
Lesley Gore started her career when she was only 17 years old.
After being discovered, she achieved instant success, and her 1963 single “It’s My Party” topped the charts.
She continued to make music in the following years, and she is now mostly remembered for her 60’s hits “Judy’s Turn to Cry” and “You Don’t Own Me.”
Her music was also characterized by her feminist attitude and strong messages.
24. Eartha Kitt
Best known for her timeless Christmas hit “Santa Baby”, Eartha Kitt is widely regarded as one of the best female singers of the 1960s.
She is also remembered as an actress – she starred as Catwoman in the Batman series, for instance.
And she was active in numerous social causes, especially regarding criticism of the Vietnam war.
All things considered, Eartha Kitt was a true creative force, and her impact on American culture will never be forgotten.
25. Peggy March
With a chart-topping hit “I Will Follow Him”, Peggy March became a real star of the 60s.
And she was only 14 at the time, which made her the youngest female musician to have a no. 1 hit.
March was also the first white female singer to have a best-selling R&B single.
So even though she isn’t as famous as some other singers on this list, Peggy March was definitely breaking boundaries, and she remains one of the most important singers of her era.
26. Ronnie Spector
When it comes to the best songs from the 60s, does it get more iconic than “Be My Baby”?
The Ronettes were really big back then, and they wouldn’t be the same without their vocalist Ronnie Spector.
Spector also released several solo albums, but she is mostly associated with the Ronettes’ music.
Either way, she was arguably one of the most unique voices of her time, and she paved the way for many young singers of similar aspirations and styles.
She is also sometimes referred to as the original “bad girl of rock and roll.”
27. Fontella Bass
Fontella Bass is widely remembered for her 1965 hit “Rescue Me.”
Bass showed talent for music at an early age, and she started singing R&B songs while she was a teenager.
And thanks to her passion, talent, and hard work, she got a record deal later on.
During her career, she got two Grammy Award nominations.
28. Shirley Bassey
If you consider the longevity and success of her music career, Shirley Bassey is definitely one of the best 60s female singers.
Known for her powerful voice and impactful delivery, Bassey always stood out from the crowd.
She gained more popularity and recognition after recording James Bond theme songs for films Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, and Moonraker.
She also had numerous BBC television specials, including her own variety series.
29. Laura Nyro
Laura Nyro was an American songwriter, singer, and pianist.
She was known for her powerful voice and distinctive vocal style.
Even Elton John idolized her, although she first got recognition after Barbra Streisand recorded her song.
In fact, many artists achieved success with her songs, The 5th Dimension had a hit with “Wedding Bell Blues”, for example.
Most of her works received critical acclaim, especially her 1968 album Eli and the Thirteenth Confession.
30. Doris Day
Doris Day is arguably one of the biggest American stars.
She started out as a big band singer in 1939, and achieved commercial success in the 40s.
But she also became a big film star in the 50s and the 60s, during the Golden Age of Hollywood.
She was best known for her roles in Calamity Jane (1953) and Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956.)
Doris Day’s most memorable song “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” was in fact written for Hitchcock’s film.
31. France Gall
When thinking about blonde female singers from the 60s, France Gall also comes to mind.
Her song “Ella, elle l’a” is a timeless hit.
But Gall first got public attention after winning the Eurovision Song Contest for Luxembourg in 1965.
Eventually, she became a well-known yé-yé singer.
She is also remembered for her collaboration with French singer Michel Berger.
32. Françoise Hardy
Speaking of influential French singers of the 60s, Françoise Hardy also deserves a spot on this list.
She is a retired singer and songwriter known for singing melancholic and sweet French ballads.
She was an important figure in the French pop music scene of the 60s.
In fact, she first rose to fame as a leading figure of the yé-yé wave in the 60s, and continued to make music in the following decades.
Hardy’s most notable songs include “Le temps de l’amour” and “Comment te dire adieu.”
33. Sarah Vaughan
Nicknamed “Sassy” and “The Divine One”, Sarah Vaughan was one of the most beloved female jazz singers.
She started her career in the 1940s, and maintained her popularity and relevance well into the 1960s.
During her rich and durable career, she won two Grammy Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award.
And she is still widely remembered as one of the most beautiful voices of the 20th century.
34. Toni Fisher
Toni Fisher was a famous female pop singer later known as Toni F. Monzello.
She also used to appear on her records as Miss Toni Fisher.
Best known for her songs “The Big Hurt” and “West of the Wall”, Fisher really knew how to make impactful music.
“The Big Hurt” was later covered by many artists, including Nick Cave and Wes Montgomery.
35. Maureen Evans
Maureen Evans is a Welsh pop singer who rose to fame in the 1950s.
However, she released her biggest hit in the 60s.
Her unforgettable 1962 hit “Like I Do”, in fact, became one of the best-selling singles in the UK.
Evans has released many singles since then, but she remains mostly associated with the music scene of the 60s.
Best 60s Female Singers – Final Thoughts
There are many more female singers who were active in the 60s, but these were the most famous and influential.
All of the women on our list made a long lasting impact on the music industry and culture in general.
They were innovative, hard-working, and fierce – and their contribution and legacy will never be forgotten.