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The 25 Best Female Singers of All Time

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Best Female Singers of All Time

Music really wouldn’t be complete without women. So many of the greatest hits have been written, recorded, and performed by the best female singers of all time.

The music industry is full of talented musicians who have excelled at their craft, and now we’re taking a look at the legendary ladies who top them all.

 

The 25 Best Female Singers of All Time

After thoroughly reviewing and listening to countless female singers from various genres belt their hearts out, we’ve selected the artists we feel outshine all the rest.

Here’s our list of the 25 best female singers of all time:

 

25. Lady Gaga

Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta is the actual name of singer-songwriter Lady Gaga, born on March 28th, 1986, in Manhattan, New York.

Her song, “Shallow,” from the 2018 A Star is Born soundtrack, also made our best karaoke songs playlist.

Gaga started performing at open mic nights as a teenager and eventually signed a record deal in 2007, rising to fame after releasing her debut studio album, The Fame.

Among her most popular hits are “Just Dance,” “Poker Face,” “Applause,” and “Bad Romance.”

This female artist boasts a wide range of accolades, including thirteen Grammys, sixteen Guinness World Records, and eighteen MTV Video Music Awards. She also was Billboard’s Artist of the Year in 2010 and Woman of the Year in 2015.

 

24. Barbra Streisand

Barbra Joan Streisand came into this world on April 24th, 1942, and is an American singer with a career that spans over six decades.

She started out performing in clubs and on Broadway in the 60s and eventually signed with Columbia Records. She quickly rose to fame after releasing her debut album, The Barbra Streisand Album, in 1963.

“The Way We Were,” “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” and “Woman in Love” are some of her most popular hits.

Streisand has won two Academy Awards, ten Grammys, five Emmy Awards, four Peabody Awards, nine Golden Globe Awards, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

She is also the highest certified female artist in the U.S. and ranks among the best-selling recording artists of all time.

 

23. Cher

Cherilyn Sarkisian was born on May 20th, 1946, and is often called the “Goddess of Pop.” Her unique, low-range voice and style have earned her international recognition.

She began performing with her then-husband, Sonny, in their folk-rock duo, Sonny & Cher. Their song, “I Got You Babe,” soared to #1 on the U.S. and UK charts, which gave her a platform to launch her solo music career.

Her most successful songs include “I Found Someone,” “Believe,” and “If I Could Turn Back Time.”

Cher has won a Grammy, an Emmy Award, an Academy Award, three Golden Globe Awards, multiple Kennedy Center Honors Awards, and one Billboard Icon Award.

She was also the only artist to have a#1 Billboard single in six consecutive decades (1960 to 2010).

 

22. Hayley Williams

Hayley Nichole Williams is one of the best pop-rock singers in music history, with her high, intense belting and contagious energy. She was born on December 27th, 1988, in Meridian, Mississippi.

Williams was discovered in 2003 at 14 and signed to Atlantic Records, where she focused on creating and releasing pop-punk music with her band, Paramore.

Some of her most popular songs include “Misery Business,” “That’s What You Get,” and “Still Into You.” She’s also had the opportunity to collaborate with other artists, such as Newfound Glory, Zedd, and B.O.B.

Williams won a Grammy for Best Rock Song (“Ain’t It Fun”) in 2015 and took home the Best Alternative Award at the 2020 MTV Europe Music Awards.

 

21. Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Noelle Hill is a singer, songwriter, and rapper that’s taken the music industry by storm since the late 80s. She was born on May 26th, 1975, in Newark, New Jersey.

In the early 90s, she was part of a group called The Fugees, which released the hit single, “Killing Me Softly.” She eventually left the group and focused on solo projects.

Some of her most successful tracks are “Doo Wop (That Thing),” “Ex-Factor,” and “Everything Is Everything.”

During her music career, she’s won eight Grammys, five MTV Video Music Awards, four NAACP Image Awards, three American Music Awards, and four Guinness World Records.

Hill also became the first female rapper to earn a Diamond certification in the United States.

 

20. Christina Aguilera

When you think of Christina Aguilera, you can’t help but think of her incredible four-octave vocal range and insane runs!

Christina Maria Aguilera was born on December 18th, 1980, in New York City. She grew up appearing in various TV programs and eventually signed a record deal with RCA Records in 1998.

Her debut album quickly achieved massive worldwide success, producing hits like “What a Girl Wants,” “Genie in a Bottle,” and “Come On Over Baby (All I Want Is You).”

Throughout her career, Aguilera has won five Grammys, one Latin Grammy, one Guinness World Record, and two MTV Video Music Awards.

In 2013, she was also ranked as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.

 

19. Madonna

Madonna Louise Ciccone is usually referred to as the “Queen of Pop” and has been celebrated since the late 70s for her vocal versatility and songwriting.

Madonna was born on August 16th, 1958, in Bay City, Michigan.

She started out singing and playing guitar and drums in various rock bands. However, she immediately gained popularity after choosing to concentrate on solo projects.

Her most famous hits include “Like a Virgin,” “4 Minutes,” “Vogue,” and “Like a Prayer.”

Madonna is the best-selling female singer of all time and one of the most successful solo artists in U.S. history. She has won seven Grammys, twenty MTV Video Music Awards, and one Video Vanguard Award.

 

18. Nina Simone

Eunice Kathleen Waymon, also known as Nina Simone, began her legacy on February 21st, 1933, in Tryon, North Carolina. She is regarded as one of the best female singers to mix gospel, pop, and classical music.

She kickstarted her career playing piano and singing in nightclubs until signing with Bethlehem Records and releasing her debut album, Little Girl Blue, in 1959.

Some of Simone’s most successful tracks include “Mississippi Goddam,” “Feeling Good,” and her cover of “I Loves You Porgy.”

She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018 and has won one AAFCA Award and one Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

17. Diana Ross

Diana Ernestine Ross made a name for herself during the 60s and remains one of the best female artists in the music industry today. She was born in Detroit, Michigan, on March 26th, 1944.

Ross started pop music when she became the lead singer of The Supremes, who performed early hits like “Baby Love” and “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

When she left the group, she switched to a solo career, where she released hit after hit, including “Touch Me In The Morning,” “I’m Coming Out,” and “Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand).” She also teamed up with Lionel Richie on one of the best karaoke duets of all time, “Endless Love.”

The accomplished female singer is recognized by Guinness World Records as the best female artist in U.S. and UK chart history because of her seventy hit singles.

Ross also is an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 

16. Stevie Nicks

Stephanie Lynn Nicks was born on May 26th, 1948, in Phoenix, Arizona, and is known as one of the best female singers and songwriters in music history.

She joined the rock band Fleetwood Mac, as lead singer in 1975 and pursued a separate solo music career, releasing eight studio solo albums.

Among her fan favorites are “Edge of Seventeen,” “Talk to Me,” and “Stand Back.” Nicks is the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, once with Fleetwood Mac and once as herself.

She won a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2003 and Album of the Year Award in 1978 with Fleetwood Mac and has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards as a solo artist.

 

15. Janis Joplin

With her mezzo-soprano vocals and charismatic stage presence, Janis Lyn Joplin was one of the most popular female rock stars. She was born on January 19th, 1943, in Port Arthur, Texas.

She started her career performing as the lead singer of the psychedelic rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company.

After leaving the band, she released several Billboard Hot 100-charting songs, including covers of popular songs, “Piece of My Heart,” “Ball and Chain,” and “Me and Bobby McGee.”

She earned a star on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard and won a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2005 Grammys.

 

14. Linda Ronstadt

Linda Maria Ronstadt was born on July 15th, 1946, in Tucson, Arizona. She’s famous for her blend of folk, rock, and country music and unique voice.

She began pursuing music at age 14, performing in a folk trio with her brother and sister. At 18, Ronstadt moved to L.A. and signed with Capitol Records.

A few of her most notable tracks are “Somewhere Out There,” “Blue Bayou,” and “You’re No Good.”

Her many accolades include eleven Grammys, three American Music Awards, two Academy of Country Music Awards, one Emmy Award, and an ALMA Award.

She was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 and awarded the National Medal of Arts and Humanities in the same year.

 

13. Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Lynn Raitt was born to sing the blues and is one of the best female vocalists of all time. She was born on November 8th, 1949, in Burbank, California.

Raitt started out playing stand-up bass and guitar and singing in various bands as a teenager, eventually scoring a record deal with Warner Bros.

With their help, she released her debut album, which included popular songs like “Bluebird,” “Finest Lovin’ Man,” and “Thank You.”

Raitt has since received ten Grammys and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 and is also known as one of the best female guitarists in the music industry.

 

12. Dionne Warwick

The legendary singer Marie Dionne Warwick was born on December 12th, 1940, in Orange, New Jersey.

In her early years, Warwick sang in a few bands and was discovered while singing backup for the band, Drifters. She struck a deal with Scepter Records and began releasing her solo music.

Some of her most successful songs include “Walk On By,” “Alfie,” and “Don’t Make Me Over.”

Warwick is the second most-charted female vocalist from the rock era of 1955 through 1999.

She has earned six Grammys, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and is an inductee in the R&B Music Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame.

 

11. Beyoncé

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, also known as “Queen B,” is the most awarded female act ever and ranks among the best-selling music artists of all time. She was born in Houston, Texas, on September 4th, 1981.

Carter started her career as the lead singer of the 90s R&B girl group Destiny’s Child. She left the group in 2003 to pursue a solo career and released her debut album, Dangerously in Love.

Some of her most popular songs are “Love On Top,” “Baby Boy,” “Crazy in Love,” and “Irreplaceable,” among so many others.

Beyoncé’s powerful voice earned her an abundance of awards and recognition, including twenty-eight Grammys, twenty-six MTV Video Music Awards, thirty-one BET Awards, and seventeen Soul Train Music Awards.

 

10. Amy Winehouse

Amy Jade Winehouse was born on September 14, 1983, in London, England, and was famous for her deep, alto vocals and refreshing mix of blue-eyed soul, blues, and jazz.

In 2002, she signed a deal with 19 Management and began recording and releasing music in 2003, including hits like “Stronger Than Me,” “Rehab,” and “Back to Black.”

Her second album, Back to Black, became one of the best-selling albums in UK history and earned international acclaim.

During her career, Winehouse won a British Female Solo Artist award at the 2007 Brit Awards, two Ivor Novello awards, and five Grammys.

 

9. Adele

Adele Laurie Blue Adkins is a British pop/soul singer-songwriter with a soulful voice and incredible vocal control. She was born on May 5th, 1988, in London, England.

She began singing at age four and attended the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology. After graduating, she signed a record deal with XL Recordings and released her debut album, 19.

A few of her most famous songs are “Chasing Pavements,” “Rolling in the Deep,” and “Set Fire to the Rain.” She also earned a spot on our best prom songs playlist with “Someone Like You.”

Adele boasts many prestigious achievements, including fifteen Grammy Awards, twelve Brit Awards, and two Ivor Novello Awards.

She was also the first female artist to have three singles in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 at one time.

 

8. Etta James

Jamesetta Hawkins (stage name “Etta James”) is known worldwide as one of the most iconic jazz and blues singers of all time. She was born in Los Angeles, California, on January 25th, 1938.

James learned to sing at a young age and joined a girl group in her early teens. After departing from the group, she signed a record deal with Chess Records and started releasing some of her best hit songs.

A few of her popular tracks include “I’d Rather Go Blind,” “At Last,” and “A Sunday Kind of Love.”

She achieved greatness in her solo career, winning six Grammy Awards, seventeen Blues Music Awards, and earning spots in the Blues Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame.

 

7. Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald or as many call her, the “Queen of Jazz,” was born on April 25th, 1917, in Newport News, Virginia.

After winning first prize at an Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater in Manhattan, NY, Fitzgerald embarked on a wildly successful solo career and worked with several different bands.

Fitzgerald also received many opportunities to collaborate with other famous musicians like Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington.

A few of her most famous songs are her version of “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Summertime,” and “A Tisket, A Tasket.”

Throughout her musical journey, the exceptional jazz singer won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, fourteen Grammy Awards, a National Medal of Arts, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 

6. Billie Holiday

Jazz singer Billie Holiday’s real name is Eleanora Fagan, and she was born on April 7th, 1915, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Holiday excelled in swing and jazz music and made her mark as one of the most incredible female vocalists and vocal improvisers of all time.

In her early days, she performed at clubs and eventually scored record deals with labels like Columbia, Vocalion, and Decca.

Some of her most popular songs include “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” “Lady Sings The Blues,” and “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm.”

Holiday had an incredibly successful solo career, earning four Grammy Awards and receiving inductions into the Grammy Hall of Fame and National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.

 

5. Tina Turner

Anna Mae Bullock (stage name Tina Turner) is widely regarded as the “Queen of Rock ‘n Roll” and was born on November 26th, 1939, in Brownsville, Tennessee.

She also appears on our best 80s songs playlist with one of her greatest songs ever, “What’s Love Got To Do With It.”

After performing with her husband in a musical duo called Ike & Tina Turner for over a decade, Turner launched a successful solo career.

Some of her most beloved songs include “The Best,” “Better Be Good To Me,” and “I Don’t Wanna Fight.”

During her world tour in 1988, she also earned a Guinness World Record for having the largest paying audience for a solo act.

The singer received twelve Grammy Awards, a Kennedy Center Honors Award, and was the first female and black artist to earn a spot on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

 

4. Céline Dion

Céline Marie Claudette Dion is a Canadian singer best known for her powerful voice and varied musical genres. She was born on March 30th, 1968, in Charlemagne, Quebec in, Canada.

Her song, “My Heart Will Go On,” is also featured on our best 90s songs playlist.

Dion became a star in her teenage years in the 80s after winning the Yamaha World Popular Song Festival in 1982 and the Eurovision Song Contest in 1988.

Soon after, she signed a record deal in the U.S. and began releasing English-language albums.

Among her most famous songs are “The Power of Love,” “Because You Loved Me,” and “I’m Your Angel.”

Dion’s fantastic voice and vocal technique have made her one of the best-selling music artists of all time and earned her five Grammy Awards.

She has also won twelve World Music Awards, seven Billboard Music Awards, six American Music Awards, and fifty Felix Awards.

 

3. Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey boasts an incredible five-octave vocal range, easily making her one of the best female singers of all time.

She was born on March 27th, 1969, in Huntington, New York, and grew up trying to mimic her mother’s operatic voice.

After signing as a solo artist with one of the biggest record labels in the world, Columbia Records, Carey released numerous hit songs, such as “Always Be My Baby, “We Belong Together.” and “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”

This phenomenal songstress has won five Grammy Awards, nineteen World Music Awards, and ten American Music Awards and is an inductee into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

 

2. Whitney Houston

Few artists can compare to the powerhouse vocals and stage presence of Whitney Houston. Her legacy began on August 9th, 1963, in Newark, New Jersey, where her mother (a gospel singer) taught her how to sing.

Her classic song, “I Will Always Love You,” is also featured on our best songs of all time playlist.

Houston performed solo and with her mom at various clubs throughout her teenage years until she received a record deal.

She then became one of the best-selling music artists after releasing chart-topping songs, including “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” and “How Will I Know.”

This naturally gifted singer has won six Grammy Awards, sixteen Billboard Music Awards, and two Emmy Awards. In addition, she also earned a spot in the Grammy Hall of Fame and Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame.

 

1. Aretha Franklin

Aretha Louise Franklin, otherwise known as the “Queen of Soul,” was born in Memphis, TN, on March 25th, 1942.

Throughout her solo career, she released countless R&B, soul, and gospel hits, including “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Respect,” and “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You).”

She won numerous awards, including 18 Grammy Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Arts, and inductions into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Franklin is widely considered one of the best black female singers of all time due to her vocal flexibility and ability to generate emotional power through songs.

 

Summary

Hopefully, now you have the necessary knowledge to create a fantastic playlist featuring the best female singers of all time.  

These ladies will impress without question whether you’re looking for a soft and sweet ballad or a powerful anthem.

Who’s the best female singer of all time, in your opinion? Leave a comment below. 

Emily is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, and ukulelist who has graced the stage at countless venues across the Midwest and Southern U.S. Throughout her career, she’s opened for artists including Eric Paslay, Stars Go Dim, Love & The Outcome, and Sierra Hull. She writes relatable, original music in various genres, from country and folk to cinematic pop, hoping to inspire and uplift her listeners. Outside of music, Emily enjoys hiking with her husband and playing with her comical cat, Olive.

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