Where were you in the 70s?
For music lovers, this was a memorable period as many female singers tried to match their male counterparts in a rapidly evolving music scene.
History has it that this decade produced some of the best male artists.
But who were the best 70s female singers?
Who would you pick as your favorite artist?
Or the girl band of the decade?
Below, we’ve compiled a list of the 30 best 70s female singers who left their mark on the music scene.
1. Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell is one of the most popular and influential female singers of the 1970s.
Her music covered folk, rock, jazz, and pop styles with lyrics that explored social and environmental issues.
Her best-known songs include “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Both Sides Now,” and “Woodstock.”
Joni is a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter who left an indelible mark on the music industry.
2. Carly Simon
Carly Simon became an instant sensation after breaking onto the music scene in 1971.
Her magical voice and powerful lyrics made her one of the decade’s most iconic figures.
Songs like “You’re So Vain”, and “Anticipation” pushed her career beyond borders.
In 1972, she won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
Apart from her solo projects, Simon has featured in duets with artists like James Taylor and released several compilation albums throughout her career.
3. Diana Ross & The Supremes
Diana Ross & The Supremes was a legendary girl group of the 1970s, led by the music icon Diana Ross.
They released a string of successful singles like “Stop! In the Name of Love”, “Baby Love,” and “You Can’t Hurry Love,” in addition to the iconic live album, Live at the Copa.
After Diana left the group, the members continued to record hits under the name The Supremes until 1977, when they disbanded.
They were one of the best-selling girl groups in history, with over 20 top 10 singles in the US alone.
4. Carole King
The immensely talented Carole King is undoubtedly one of the best songwriters in history.
She’s also one of the most influential female singers from the 1970s, famous for her selfless contributions to the music industry.
Her 1972 release, Tapestry, was an era-defining album.
It topped the international charts and spawned hit singles such as “It’s Too Late,” “So Far Away,” and “I Feel the Earth Move.”
Along with her musical contributions, King is also a successful author and human rights activist.
5. Dusty Springfield
English singer Dusty Springfield rose to fame during the disco era with hit singles like “Son of a Preacher Man” and “The Look of Love.”
She had an incredible impact on soul and R&B music, becoming one of the genre’s biggest influences.
Springfield was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.
Despite her unfortunate demise in 1999, her music still lives on through her fans.
Her catalog includes hits like “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me,” “Breakfast In Bed,” and “If You Go Away.”
As a pioneer of female empowerment anthems, Dusty Springfield will always remain one of the greatest voices of the ’70s.
6. Ann Peebles
Ann Peebles is another prominent female soul singer of the 70s.
Hailing from Memphis, Tennessee, Peebles recorded several classic tracks, including “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” “Come To Mama,” and “99 Pounds.”
Her deal with Hi Records record label pushed her to stardom.
Ann churned several Billboard charting singles from the late ’60s to the early ’80s.
Later in her career, she branched out to gospel and blues music.
Ann is fondly remembered for her passionate, heartfelt soul records, earning her a place in music history.
7. Gladys Knight & The Pips
Gladys Knight & The Pips, formed in 1953, is a legendary vocal quartet known for soulful sound and emotional lyrics.
Hits like “Midnight Train To Georgia” and “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)” are timeless classics that defined the era.
The quartet released seven #1 hits and 15 other top 10 singles as a musical group.
Gladys Knight continued her solo career in 1989, releasing six more solo albums and earning two more Grammys.
8. Linda Ronstadt
Do you remember the female singer who gave us “When Will I Be Loved?” “Blue Bayou” and “You’re No Good?”
Linda Ronstadt became one of the premier female vocalists of the 70s after her debut album in 1969.
Her voice could soar, captivate, and touch hearts.
She blended country, rock, and folk music to create a signature sound that made her one of the most successful female singers in history.
During the 1970s, Linda placed 15 singles on the US Top 40, 4 of which were Grammy award winners.
She collaborated with music icons like Aaron Neville, Neil Young, and James Taylor.
9. Roberta Flack
Roberta Flack won back-to-back Grammy Awards in 1972, and 1973 with her breakout hit, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” and the uplifting ballad, “Killing Me Softly With His Song.”
Flack’s other popular songs include the anti-war anthem “Where Is the Love?” and the romantic duet with Donny Hathaway, “The Closer I Get to You.”
As her career progressed, the singer ventured into the world of Broadway musicals, performing in shows such as ‘Sophisticated Ladies’ and ‘Annie Warbucks.’
10. Chaka Khan
Chaka Khan is a living legend of funk and soul.
She released her fourth studio album, Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan, in 1975 and has been a mainstay in the music industry ever since.
She scored her first major hit with “Tell Me Something Good,” peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
In 1978, Chaka launched a successful solo career with her debut album, including the disco smash hit “I’m Every Woman.”
Since then, she has become one of the best-selling female recording artists of all time, with 13 studio albums, 8 Grammy Awards, and multiple singles.
The singer is also recognized for her activism and philanthropy, having been involved in numerous charitable causes.
11. Nancy Wilson
Nancy Wilson was a versatile jazz vocalist in the 1970s with a Grammy Award and over 20 albums.
Her distinctive, deep, and smoky voice was perfect for her interpretations of standards.
Her passionate and emotional performances often attracted positive criticism.
Nancy Wilson’s 1975 album, Come Get to This, was an R&B chart-topper, while her 1960 hit “Guess Who I Saw Today” became an instant classic.
Throughout the 70s, Nancy set the trend with her honest and soulful renditions of timeless hits.
12. Donna Summer
Donna Summer is one of the top 70s black female singers who scored highly with hit singles like “Love to Love You Baby,” “Hot Stuff,” and “I Feel Love.”
With her sensual and seductive sound, she quickly became the Queen of Disco.
She ruled the dance floors with her catchy melodies and energetic beats.
Donna Summer was also an accomplished songwriter and producer, most of her songs becoming timeless classics.
13. Vicki Sue Robinson
Vicki Sue Robinson is one of the most underrated 70s female singers.
Though she only had a few hits, they were vibrant, creative, and upbeat.
She is best known for her 1976 hit “Turn the Beat Around.”
A master of genres, she effortlessly transitioned between soul, funk, reggae, and disco.
But it was her energizing live performances that captivated audiences.
Not only did she provide the perfect soundtrack for Saturday night parties, but she also influenced generations of upcoming artists.
14. Loretta Lynn
When Loretta Lynn began her musical career in the local clubs in the 1950s, nobody would have thought she would become one of the most influential female singers of the 70s and beyond.
Today, she’s a Country Music Hall of Famer and one of the best female country music singers of all time.
She began her career in the early 1960s and had her biggest hit with “Coal Miner’s Daughter” in 1971.
During the 70s, she released a slew of hit singles, including “Fist City,” “Rated X,” and “The Pill.”
She was praised by both country and pop audiences, and her influence extended beyond her music.
Her powerful lyrics broke down gender barriers and encouraged women to stand up for themselves.
With a career spanning close to 6 decades, Loretta Lynn is a treasured country music icon and will be remembered forever for her wonderful contributions to the music scene.
15. Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin was a singer, songwriter, and poet whose raw, expressive style always caught her fans’ attention.
She rose to fame in the late 60s with her band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and had a successful solo career.
Songs like “Piece of My Heart,” “Mercedes Benz,” and “Me and Bobby McGee” epitomized the emotion and turmoil of the 70s.
Her impact was immense, and her songs inspired a generation of musicians.
Janis was a defiant figure, breaking boundaries and encouraging people to take a chance and pursue their dreams.
For these reasons, she deserves a place in any list of the most popular 70s female artists.
16. Patti Smith
Patti Smith is a singer-songwriter who has released many albums, including Horses, Radio Ethiopia, and Easter.
She was one of the most influential figures of the punk rock movement in the United States, and her work has inspired a generation of artists.
Her hit song “Because The Night” (written with Bruce Springsteen) became an international success, putting her on the map.
She is also an accomplished author, having written three books and won several literary awards.
Patti boasts multiple honorary degrees from various universities for her contributions to music and literature.
17. Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton is one of the most beloved country singers in the US and beyond.
She has released dozens of hit albums, from the iconic Jolene (1973) to Pure & Simple (2016) and her most recent project, A Holly Dolly Christmas (2020).
Many artists have covered her songs, including Elvis Presley, Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Cash, and Whitney Houston.
Not only has Parton achieved incredible success with her music, but she’s also an acclaimed actress and businesswoman.
Her philanthropic work is inspiring, including the Dollywood Foundation, which provides educational scholarships for students in the Appalachian region.
Such a multi-talented icon!
18. Olivia Newton-John
Olivia Newton-John is an English-Australian singer-songwriter and actress who rose to fame in the 1970s after starring alongside John Travolta in the film, ‘Grease.’
She had two major hits during the decade (“Physical” and “Hopelessly Devoted To You”), reaching #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Throughout her career, Olivia has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the most successful female pop singers.
Newton-John has also excelled as an activist and advocate for environmental protection and animal rights.
19. Stevie Nicks
Stevie Nicks is considered one of the best 70s female artists.
As part of Fleetwood Mac, she co-wrote some of the band’s greatest hits, including “Rhiannon,” “Dreams,” and “Landslide.
She also wrote or co-wrote the band’s other charting singles like “Go Your Way,” “Don’t Stop,” and “Gold Dust Woman.”
As a solo artist, Stevie reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 with her signature song, “Edge Of Seventeen.
20. Emmylou Harris
Emmylou Harris is a singer-songwriter and musician who has been active since the 1970s.
She was a country rock pioneer with over 25 albums and multiple Grammy awards.
Some of her biggest hits include “To Daddy,” “If I Could Only Win Your Love,” and “Love Hurts.”
Her album, Wrecking Ball, won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1995.
She has received numerous awards from the Country Music Association and Americana Music Association.
In 2008, Harris was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
21. Kate Bush
Kate Bush is an English singer-songwriter who achieved great success during the 1970s.
She released her debut album, The Kick Inside, in 1978, a smash hit with singles like “Wuthering Heights.”
Her second album, Lionheart, went double platinum, earning her the title of the highest-selling British female artist of the decade.
Bush has released new music throughout her career, including her latest album, 50 Words For Snow (2011).
22. Chrissie Hynde
Chrissie Hynde is the lead singer and guitarist of the influential punk/new wave band, The Pretenders.
Hynde formed the band in 1978, with their first album, Pretenders, coming out the same year.
The album featured the hit “Brass in Pocket,” which became the band’s first-ever top 10 songs.
As a member of The Pretenders, Hynde also released “Middle of the Road,” “Back On the Chain Gang,” and the timeless anthem, “Don’t Get Me Wrong.”
Her best collaborations involved Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, and U2.
Through her work with The Pretenders, Hynde left an indelible mark on the history of punk/new wave music.
23. Siouxsie Sioux
Siouxsie Sioux is among the most influential female figures in punk and post-punk rock music.
She began performing with the band Siouxsie & the Banshees in 1976.
Siouxsie blended punk, gothic, and new wave elements to create a unique sound.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, they had a string of acclaimed albums such as Juju, Kaleidoscope, A Kiss in the Dreamhouse, Tinderbox, and Peepshow.
Siouxsie has been cited as an influence by many notable musicians.
24. Debbie Harry
Debbie Harry is the iconic lead singer of the legendary new wave and punk band Blondie.
She fronted the band in the late 1970s and early 80s, and her style and attitude helped set the tone for the era.
Her hits with Blondie include “Heart of Glass,” “Call Me,” and “Rapture.”
After Blondie disbanded in 1982, Harry pursued a solo career, releasing four albums between 1981 and 1993.
In 2006, Blondie reformed and continued to tour and record new music.
25. Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono was a significant force in avant-garde art and experimental music in the late 60s and beyond.
Born in Tokyo in 1933, she moved to New York City in the 1950s, where she worked as an avant-garde artist.
She met John Lennon in 1966, and they later got married.
In 1968, she founded the Plastic Ono Band and wrote and recorded the groundbreaking song “Give Peace a Chance.”
In 1969, Ono and Lennon held the historic bed-in for peace.
Her groundbreaking solo albums are widely celebrated, including Fly, Approximately Infinite Universe, and Feeling the Space.
Ono has remained a powerful voice for peace and human rights throughout her career and continues entertaining her loyal fans worldwide.
26. Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand is widely recognized as one of the greatest female singers of all time.
She started her career in the early 1960s, releasing her debut album, The Barbra Streisand Album, in 1963.
Throughout the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, Streisand scored numerous hits, ranging from the tender ballad “People” to the disco-influenced track “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough).”
Streisand is the only artist to have achieved #1 albums in each decade since the 1960s.
Beyond being a gifted singer, she is also an accomplished actress, winning two Oscars for her roles in ‘Funny Girl’ and ‘The Way We Were.’
27. Bette Midler
Bette Midler is an American treasure.
Since making her debut on Broadway in the musical film, ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ Midler became one of the biggest stars in the entertainment world.
Her husky, bluesy voice has earned her five Grammy Awards, and her signature style has made her a beloved pop icon.
Midler rose to fame in the 1970s with hit singles like “Do You Want To Dance,” “The Rose,” and the classic duet “Islands In The Stream,” featuring Kenny Rogers.
Her career took off after her starring role in the 1979 drama film, ‘The Rose,’ and her performance earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
28. Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt is a blues and rock singer-songwriter and guitarist who emerged in the early 1970s.
She has released over 20 albums, many of which have become classics.
Her most successful album, 1989’s Nick of Time, earned her multiple Grammy Awards and topped the charts.
Her blues-influenced style has made her an enduring artist with a devoted fanbase.
29. Rita Coolidge
Rita Coolidge is an American multi-genre singer-songwriter and musician whose biggest hits came in the 1970s.
She began her singing career in the folk-rock band Kooper before joining Joe Cocker’s backing group, the Grease Band.
Coolidge launched a solo career in 1971 and quickly established herself as a famous actress, earning three consecutive Grammy awards in 1976, 1977, and 1978.
Her most famous single, “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher,” was a huge success and has been covered by numerous artists.
In the decades following her commercial peak, Coolidge continued to perform and release music while exploring other genres, such as jazz and gospel.
She has been honored several times by the Recording Academy, including the highly coveted Lifetime Achievement Award (2018).
30. Janis Ian
Janis Ian is a songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist who had her breakthrough in the mid-1970s.
She has released 15 studio albums and is renowned for her lyrically mature songs that often address social and political issues.
Her 1975 song “At Seventeen” was particularly iconic and is seen as a defining statement of the struggles faced by teenage girls.
Ian has also written extensively about her struggles with depression and anxiety.
As an openly gay woman, she has also used her platform to speak about LGBT issues, inspiring countless young people to feel more comfortable in their skin.
Her legacy of thoughtful songwriting and activism has made her an influential figure in the music industry.
Best 70s Female Singers – Final Thoughts
The 70s was viewed as a male-dominated era in music history.
But the decade also welcomed great women singers who left their mark on the music scene.
The best of the 70s female singers were pioneers.
And while our list of the best 70s female rock singers isn’t exhaustive, it is a great starting point when looking back at the memorable decade for what it had to offer to music lovers worldwide.
It might not be everybody’s favorite list of singers, but these women pushed the limits, leaving a lasting impression on their fans while inspiring a generation of upcoming artists.