The future of music

40 Best Female Singers of All Time

December 12, 2023
best female singers of all time

I’ve selected the best female singers of all time, iconic voices that have left an indelible mark on the music world with their talent, power, and emotion.

This article celebrates the women who have risen to the pinnacle of musical excellence, influencing generations and breaking barriers.

Top female singers of all time

  • Aretha Franklin
  • Whitney Houston
  • Shania Twain
  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • Adele
  • Amy Winehouse
  • Mariah Carey
  • Stevie Nicks
  • Alicia Keys
  • Tina Turner

1. Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin is widely regarded as the greatest female singer of all time.

Known as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin was a true creative force, especially in the 1970s.

Many of her songs are considered classics, including “Respect”, “Chain of Fools”, and “Natural Woman.”

Aretha won 18 Grammy Awards, and she was also the first woman to be listed in the Rock and roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

And she is also noted for her activism for civil and women’s rights.

Aretha Franklin was a skilled, hard-working, and conscious artist, and she inspired many singers that came after her.

2. Whitney Houston

When thinking about top female singers, Whitney Houston immediately comes to mind.

She has one of the most powerful voices in music history.

Nicknamed ‘The Voice’, Whitney garnered many awards and recognitions during her lifetime.

And with more than 200 million records sold worldwide, she is one of the best-selling artists of all time.

She is best-known for her masterful performance of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.”

Although she didn’t originally write the song, her rendition inspired many singers to follow their dreams.

3. Shania Twain

Shania Twain is one of the most famous country singers.

In fact, she is one of the most successful crossover artists.

Her success and style earned her the nickname the Queen of Country Pop.

Well, she certainly deserves it – her vocal skills are impeccable, and her energy unmatched.

And she had an influence on many singers who rose to stardom.

For example, Taylor Swift cited Shania as one of her most prominent musical influences as well as inspirations for her pop crossover.

4. Ella Fitzgerald 

Many would agree that Ella FItzgerald is among the top 10 female singers of all time.

She is known as the ‘First Lady of Song’ and ‘Queen of Jazz.’

And she certainly made a huge impact on the music scene of that era.

Fitzgerald was known for her scat singing, vocal improvisation with wordless vocables.

And she recorded numerous hits and collaborated with Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and so on.

The Queen of Jazz gave her last public performance in 1993, after a career of nearly 60 years.

5. Adele

Adele is undeniably one of the best female vocalists of the past decade.

As a singer, she doesn’t hold back – she showed us her incredible vocal skills in the very beginning. 

And although Adele tends to pull back from the public eye from time to time, she still keeps releasing incredible albums.

She proved herself as a dedicated, honest songwriter, and she became one of the most popular singers in the world.

Her album “21” became the world’s best-selling album of the 21st century.

And her latest studio album “30” reached number one in 25 countries.

6. Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse remains one of the music industry’s greatest losses.

We can only wonder what she would have achieved if she hadn’t died at 27.

However, Winehouse left us a substantial musical legacy.

Her songs like “Back To Black”, “Rehab”, and “Love Is a Losing Game” are still among popular hits.

In her music, she fused soul, jazz, and modern sounds, and her incredible voice was a crucial part of it.

7. Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey is often referred to as one of the best women singers of our time.

She has a five-octave vocal range, and she also has a very interesting and soothing singing voice.

But she also put a lot of effort into her music.

Mariah was the first artist to have five singles rank number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

And she has been for a while now, which proves her endless energy and passion for music.

Some of Mariah Carey’s biggest hits include “Hero”, “Always Be My Baby” and, of course, “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” 

8. Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks is best-known for her work with Fleetwood Mac.

She joined the band in 1975, and helped it become one of the greatest bands in history.

But Stevie Nicks also produced music as a solo artist.

Rolling Stone named her the “Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll.”

And that’s what she is – her talent, devotion, and distinctive vocal don’t go unnoticed.

9. Alicia Keys

Alicia Augello Cook, known professionally as Alicia Keys, is one of the top female singers of our time.

Her singing voice is truly unique, and her talent and passion undeniable.

Alicia Keys is also a classically trained pianist.

She started composing songs when she was 12, and signed her first contract when she was 15.

Over the years, Keys garnered 15 Grammy Awards, and she is one of the best-selling artists of all time.

10. Tina Turner

Tina Turner undeniably made a huge impact on popular culture and the music industry.

She is referred to as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, although she also wrote in genres like R&B and soul.

Before becoming a global superstar, Tina started out as the lead singer of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.

She eventually became one of the best-selling recording artists of all time.

And her signature song “Best” became a timeless rock anthem.

11. Celine Dion

Celine Dion has one of the most powerful singing voices in the music industry.

She has technically skilled vocals, and she doesn’t hide that in her music.

She is best-known for her ‘Titanic’ song “My Heart Will Go On”, but she has released many hits ever since.

She became a global superstar and the best-selling Canadian recording artist.

And after decades of having a successful career, Celine Dion is still actively performing and touring.

12. Barbra Streisand

With a career spanning over six decades, Barbra Streisand is a legendary diva.

She is one of the stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

As you might assume, Barbra Streisand is one of the best-selling artists and a receiver of many awards.

She is among the few artists awarded an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. 

And she is still loved by millions for her distinctive voice and endless energy. 

It’s incredible that Barbra Streisand is still active – she is heading back out on tour in 2023.

13. Beyonce

This list wouldn’t be complete without Queen Bey.

Beyonce is widely regarded as one of the best female vocalists of our time.

And her music will undoubtedly be known to many generations to come.

Beyonce rose to fame in the late 90s as the lead singer of Destiny’s Child.

But the peak of her career came afterward.

She has won 22 Grammy Awards and is the most nominated female artist in the award’s history.

14. Billie Holiday

When it comes to iconic lady singers, Billie Holiday is one of the best.

Nicknamed “Lady Day”, Billie Holiday had a lot of influence on jazz music and pop singing.

She was known for her unique singing style that included innovative phrasing and tempo.

She also had incredible improvisational skills.

All in all, Billie Holiday is certainly among the best singers of all time.

15. Cher

Cher is another legendary female singer that changed music history.

Her signature songs “Believe”, “If I Could Turn Back Time”, and “Strong Enough” are all-time hits.

And her distinctive contralto singing voice (the lowest female voice type) is one to remember.

All things considered, Cher is often referred to as the Goddess of Pop for a good reason.

16. Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell has an incredibly soothing and naturally gentle singing voice.

It’s soft and powerful at the same time.

She is also a talented songwriter – in fact, Rolling Stone called her one of the greatest songwriters ever.

She released many successful albums throughout the years, including the iconic 1971 album “Blue.”

17. Nina Simone

Eunice Kathleen Waymon, known professionally as Nina Simone, is a music legend.

Her voice touched people in such a profound way.

She was also a very versatile artist, making music in various styles including folk, gospel, jazz, pop, and classical.

Some of Nina Simone’s greatest hits include “Feeling Good”, “Sinnerman”, and “I Put a Spell On You.” 

Besides being a talented and authentic singer, Simone was a talented pianist and a civil rights activist. 

18. Janis Joplin

Without a doubt, Janis Joplin is one of the most popular female rock stars.

She is known for her incredible vocal abilities and distinctive mezzo-soprano vocals.

And although her death was premature, she managed to make a huge impact on popular culture and many artists who came after her.

“Me & Bobby McGee” is one of her biggest hits, although it was originally written by Kris Kristofferson  – she changed the lyrics a little bit though.

But she made the song her own, and along with “Piece Of My Heart” and “Summertime” , it’s considered her signature song. 

19. Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga released her breakout hit “Just Dance” in 2008.

And she has been ruling the charts ever since.

Apart from her amazing singing skills, Lady Gaga proved herself as a unique and talented performer early on.

She wasn’t afraid to show her authenticity, and along with her hard work and talent, that certainly got her where she is now.

Lady Gaga is undeniably one of the best female singers of her generation.

20. Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera is one of the top female vocalists of the 2000s – and everyone knows that.

She has a four-octave vocal range and an incredible ability to sustain high notes.

Aguilera started out in the 90s, and released her debut album in 1999.

And she has been around ever since – with her smashing pop hits and electrifying live performances.

In 2013, Time listed her among the 100 most influential people in the world.

21. Madonna 

Speaking of the most influential people in the world, we can’t skip Madonna.

After all, she is the true Queen of Pop.

“Vogue”, “Material Girl” and “Frozen” are just some of her hits that turned out to be timeless.

In a way, Madonna shaped mainstream music and pushed its boundaries.

She is a leading culture figure, a skilled vocalist, a fantastic dancer and performer, and a successful businesswoman.

And wIth over 300 million records worldwide, she is the best-selling female recording artist of all time. 

22. Diana Ross

Diana Ross rose to fame as the lead singer of the Supremes in the 60s.

Although the female singing group had a huge success, Ross embarked on a solo career.

In 1976, she was named the “Female Entertainer of the Century” by Billboard.

And she received many awards and honors including Tony, Emmy, and Grammy.

23. Kate Bush 

When she was only 19, Kate Bush topped the UK Singles Chart for four weeks with her debut single “Wuthering Heights.”

She has had a successful career ever since.

And in 2022, her 1985 single “Running Up That Hill” received renewed global attention because of the Netflix show ‘Stranger Things.’

It’s estimated that Bush received more than $2 million of royalties for the show.

But nevertheless, she was a star long before that, and she is arguably one of the best female artists of all time.

24. Carole King

Carole King has been around since the late 50s.

She is one of the great female vocalists with a rich career.

She made 25 solo albums and  sold more than 75 million records worldwide.

Besides her vocals, King is also noted for her immense songwriting talent.

She has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice – as a singer and as a songwriter.

25. Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill began her career with The Fugees.

She released her debut solo album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” in 1998.

The album became one of the best-selling albums of all time.

There’s no doubt that Lauryn Hill played an important role in shaping the sound of neo soul and hip hop.

She is undoubtedly one of the most influential artists of her generation, and she inspired many singers including Beyonce, Adele, Dua Lipa, and Christina Aguilera.

26. Taylor Swift

Without a doubt, Taylor Swift is at the moment one of the most popular female singers in the world.

She was only 14 when she decided to pursue a career in country music.

And there she is now – one of the best-selling musicians of all-time.

Over the years, she garnered 11 Grammy Awards and many other accolades.

But more importantly, she keeps inspiring people around the world with her relatable music, work ethics, and down-to-earth personality.

27. Dionne Warwick

Dionne Warwick is also one of the top female vocalists of all time.

Since she’s coming from a religious and musical household, she started out as a gospel singer.

She rose to fame in the 60s, and became one of the most important names in soul music.

Her numerous hits include “That’s What Friends Are For” “Walk On By”, and “I Say a Little Prayer.”

28. Norah Jones

Norah Jones became known to the world after releasing her album “Come Away With Me” in 2002.

And now she’s one of the most successful singers of all time.

Billboard even named her the top jazz artist of the 2000’s decade.

And she deserves it – her recognizable, soothing voice can easily be compared to divas like Etta James and Aretha Franklin.

And her songs will always bring a dreamy smile to our faces.

29. Shakira

Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, known simply as Shakira, is a Colombian-born ‘Queen of Latin Music.’

She entered the global market after releasing  Laundry Service, her first English-language album.

Her distinctive voice and singing style, accompanied by catchy songs and belly dancing, helped her become a superstar.

And she combined many musical elements and styles throughout the years, including pop, rock, electropop, Arab music, and Latin.

See also: Best Shakira Songs

30. Rihanna

Rihanna is undoubtedly one of the most famous singers of her generation.

Born in Barbados, Rihanna incorporates different sounds in her music, but she is mostly known for her pop dance hits.

Her chart-topping hit “Umbrella” catapulted her into stardom in 2007.

And she has released many successful hits since then.

Over the years, she established herself as a bold and unapologetic but sentimental artist and an incredible performer. 

Besides music, Rihanna is also known for her involvement in humanitarian causes and the fashion industry.

31. Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa rose to fame with her song “Be the One” in 2017.

But she has released many hit songs since then including “New Rules” and “Don’t Start Now.”

She has distinctive mezzo-soprano vocals and the true energy of a pop star.

Although she is still in her twenties, Dua Lipa has many accolades including Grammy Awards.

And her song “One Kiss” became the year’s longest-running number-one single by a female artist.

32. Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss is a popular American country-bluegrass singer.

She started performing at an early age, and eventually turned out to be a country star. 

Krauss has won 27 Grammy Awards, and she became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

She has a clear voice and excellent singing skills.

On top of that, she is a talented multi-instrumentalist – she plays violin, mandolin, and guitar.

33. Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton is one of the iconic female singers.

“Jolene” is arguably one of her biggest hits – it’s a timeless country song about the fear of another woman stealing your man. 

Parton is also a successful businesswoman – she owns a record label and an entertainment company. 

All in all, she is a talented and versatile artist who worked hard to get where she is now.

And she is one of the best female singers of all time.

34. Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry is best-known as the lead vocalist of the band Blondie.

The band was a pioneer in the American new wave scene and a huge hit.

Blondie songs like “Heart Of Glass” “One Way Or Another”, and “Call Me” definitely withstand the test of time.

And Debbie Harry definitely has one of the best female singing voices ever. 

35. Ariana Grande

Besides her chart-topping catchy hits, Ariana Grande is known for her amazing vocal abilities.

She has a four-octave vocal range and a clean voice.

Grande cites Whitney Houston and Mariah Cary as her major vocal influences.

Apart from being a talented singer, she is also a songwriter and a great performer.

36. Hayley Williams

When it comes to the best female rock voices, Hayley Williams is close to the top.

She is definitely one of the best female vocalists of her generation.

Hayley Williams has a beautiful, clean soprano, and she also has an ability to sing in the so-called whistle register.

She is best known for her work with Paramore, but she also did some solo work.

37. Kylie Minogue

Kylie Minogue also has an impressive, high voice.

She is also a pop icon and the highest-selling female Australian artist of all time.

She is often referred to as a Princess of Pop.

Some of her most successful songs include “Get Out Of My Way”, “All The Lovers” “Slow.”

And although she is known for reinventing her image, Kylie stayed true to her style with her recent song “Miss A Thing.”

38. Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish is probably the youngest artist on our list.

Her 2015 debut single “Ocean Eyes” caught public attention, but after releasing “Bad Guy”, she became a global superstar.

And she keeps releasing successful albums and garnering awards and praise.

Her breathy voice and unique, memorable songs made her one of the most promising artists of the past decade.

39. Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt is a famous American blues singer and songwriter.

She has received many awards over the years, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

But it’s her voice that makes her one of the greatest singers of all time.

She is also a very versatile artist, incorporating elements of folk, rock, Americana, and blues in her music.

And her “I Can’t Make You Love Me” is considered one of the best love songs ever written.

40. Annie Lennox

Annie Lennox is without a doubt among the greatest singers of all time,

Her voice is very low; in fact, her vocal range is contralto, which is rather rare.

And it’s very powerful.

Besides her vocal abilities, Lennox is known for her rich career and global success with the Eurythmics.

And she is noted for her political and social activism.

Best Female Singers Of All Time – Final Thoughts 

Picking the best female singers of all time isn’t an easy task.

You have to consider many factors including their vocal abilities and cultural impact. 

All of the singers we mentioned today have an important role in music history in one way or another.

Similar Articles:

Best 60s Female Singers

Best Singers of All Time

Best Female Rock Singers

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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