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The 25 Best Singers Of All Time

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Best Singers of All Time

Some of the most popular anthems were written and performed by the best singers of all time.

Their beautiful voices carried them straight to the top of the music industry and have kept them there for decades, sharing their talents with us through song.

Although there are plenty of notable singers out there, these particular vocalists have proved themselves worthy of the highest honor.

 

The 25 Best Singers Of All Time

After listening to countless talented vocalists, we’ve picked the singers who, in our opinion, deserve to go down in history as the greatest ever to grace the stage.

So, without further ado, here’s our list of the 25 best singers of all time: 

 

25. Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Brianne Clarkson is a singer, songwriter, and TV personality known for her incredible belting ability and pop-rock music.

Clarkson won the first season of American Idol in 2002, which kickstarted her solo career, leading to record deals with RCA and one of the biggest record labels in the world, Atlantic Records.

A few of her fan favorites include “Since U Been Gone,” “A Moment Like This,” and “My Life Would Suck Without You.”

She is the first artist in music history to top the Billboard pop, adult contemporary, country, adult pop, and dance charts and has won three MTV Video Music Awards and four American Music Awards.

 

24. Etta James

Jamesetta Hawkins (a.k.a. Etta James) is one of the best female jazz singers of all time, made famous by her raw, passionate vocals, bluesy-rock style, and intriguing stage presence.

When she was fourteen, James signed with Modern Records with a girl group named the Peaches and eventually pursued a highly successful solo career.

Among her best-known tunes are “A Sunday Kind of Love,” “At Last,” “I’d Rather Go Blind,” and “Something’s Got A Hold On Me.”

This impressive jazz singer won six Grammys, one NAACP Image Award, seventeen Blues Music Awards, and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

 

23. Tina Turner

Tina Turner, born Anna Mae Bullock, is another talented vocalist who deserves to be on this list. Known as the “Queen of Rock ‘n Roll,” Turner has rocked the spotlight since the 60s.

She started singing with her former husband in a musical duo, Ike & Tina Turner, until she embarked on a solo career.

A few of her most popular hits include “The Best,” “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” and “I Don’t Wanna Fight.”

Throughout her successful career, Turner has earned twelve Grammys, Kennedy Center Honors, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and one World Music Award.

 

22. Steve Perry

Stephen Ray Perry made a name for himself in the 70s and 80s as the lead singer of the famous rock band Journey.

After moving to California in his early 20s to join a band, Perry received the opportunity to be the frontman of Journey.

Some of Perry’s greatest hits with Journey include “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Any Way You Want It,” and “Open Arms.”

The band has earned nineteen Top 40 U.S. singles and sold over 80 million records, ranking them among the world’s highest-selling bands. Perry was also inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.

 

21. Janis Joplin

Janis Lyn Joplin is one of the best female rock singers of all time who gained popularity with her gutsy blues-style vocals and captivating performances.

In 1966, Joplin started singing in Big Brother and the Holding Company and the Full Tilt Boogie Band until she left to pursue a solo career.

Some of her greatest hits include “Piece Of My Heart,” “Cry Baby,” and “Ball And Chain.”

Joplin had five #1 Billboard Hot 100 singles and is one of the best-selling U.S. musicians, having sold over 18.5 million albums.

She was also inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

20. David Bowie

David Robert Jones, known by his stage name, David Bowie, is an English singer-songwriter, actor, and one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

Bowie began performing in rock bands at fifteen and, in 1963, began to pursue a professional musical career, which took off after his single, “Space Oddity,” released in 1969.

Among some of his greatest hits are “Heroes,” “Starman,” and “Let’s Dance.” The incredible vocalist won three Brit Awards, one Daytime Emmy Award, three Grammy Awards, and three MTV Video Music Awards.

 

19. Prince

Prince Rogers Nelson was a singer-songwriter, producer, dancer, and actor known for his guitar-playing skills, musical versatility, flamboyant stage presence, and sky-high falsetto.

At nineteen, he scored a record deal with Warner Bros. Records and began releasing music that attracted countless fans.

His album, Purple Rain, remained at the top of the Billboard 200 for six consecutive months and included some of his most famous songs, like “When Doves Cry,” “Purple Rain,” and “I Would Die 4 U.”

Throughout his career, Prince earned one Academy Award, eleven ASCAP Pop Music Awards, seven Brit Awards, one Golden Globe Award, and seven Grammy Awards.

 

18. Amy Lee

Amy Lynn Lee is one of the best female metal singers of all time, famous for her angelic voice and graceful stage presence and for being the lead singer of the metal band, Evanescence.

After meeting Evanescence’s guitarist, Ben Moody, at a youth camp, Lee and Moody began performing as a duo around Arkansas, which resulted in them signing with Wind-up Records.

Some of Lee’s most recognizable tracks include “Bring Me To Life,” “My Immortal,” and “Call Me When You’re Sober.”

The accomplished singer has won a Golden God Award, the National Music Publishers Association Songwriter Icon Award, and one Grammy Award.

 

17. Céline Dion

Céline Marie Claudette Dion is a Canadian singer best known for her powerful voice, emotional power ballads, and impressive musical versatility.

Dion rose to fame as a teenager after winning two international song contests, which led to a record deal in the U.S. Some of Dion’s most famous songs include “The Power of Love,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and I’m Alive.”

If you’re a fan of Celine Dion, check out our best 90s songs playlist, which features her hit, “My Heart Will Go On.”

She has won seven Billboard Music Awards, six American Music Awards, fifty Felix Awards, and five Grammys.

 

16. Elton John

Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, Elton John is a British pianist, composer, and singer who excels in one of the most popular music genres, pop. He took the world by storm in the 70s with his exceptional showmanship and fantastic voice.

John started playing piano in local pubs at fifteen years old and, in 1962, joined a band. He went on to write songs for other artists and eventually received a record deal with DJM Records.

Among John’s most famous tunes are “Your Song,” “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time),” and “Hold Me Closer.”

The singer has received five Grammy Awards, five Brit Awards, two Academy Awards, two Golden Globes, and one Disney Legends Award.

 

15. Robert Plant

Robert Anthony Plant is an English singer-songwriter who served as the energetic lead vocalist of the esteemed rock band Led Zeppelin.

The singer performed with various rock n roll bands until he met Jimmy Page, who needed a new lead singer for his band, the New Yardbirds (which was renamed Led Zeppelin).

Some of the group’s most popular tracks include “Stairway To Heaven,” “Whole Lotta Love,” and “Ramble On.”

Plant won an American Music Award, one Polar Music Prize, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

14. Adele

Yet another fantastic singer is the British singer-songwriter Adele Laurie Blue Adkins, who has captivated countless fans with her soulful vocals and exceptional songwriting ability.

After attending the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology, she earned a record deal with XL Recordings.

A few of her greatest tracks include “Someone Like You,” “Set Fire To The Rain,” and “Hello.”

Among Adele’s many accomplishments are fifteen Grammys, two Ivor Novello Awards, and twelve Brit Awards.

 

13. James Brown

James Joseph Brown was a musical phenomenon who is one of soul music’s finest entertainers, known by many nicknames like “Godfather of Soul,” “Mr. Dynamite,” and “Soul Brother No. 1.”

He started as a gospel singer until he became the lead singer of the rhythm and blues band, The Famous Flames in the mid-1950s.

Some of Brown’s most recognized songs include “I Got You (I Feel Good),” “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” and “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud.”

The singer has had seventeen #1 singles on the Billboard R&B chart and was inducted into the Black Music & Entertainment Walk of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.

 

12. Paul McCartney

English singer-songwriter and musician James Paul McCartney obtained global stardom for his role in The Beatles. His exceptional singing talent and musical versatility have made him a household name.

McCartney’s professional music career began in 1957 when he joined John Lennon’s band, the Quarrymen, which was renamed The Beatles.

A few of McCartney’s most popular tunes include “Eleanor Rigby,” “Yesterday,” “Blackbird,” and “Hey Jude.”

The talented musician has won eighteen Grammys and one Academy Award and has co-written thirty-two #1 Billboard Hot100 songs.

He’s also received inductions into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a Beatles member and solo artist.

 

11. Luciano Pavarotti

Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti was known as the “King of the High Cs” and astounded audiences worldwide with his beautiful tone and classical style.

In 1955, Pavarotti performed with a male voice choir that won first place at an international singing competition in Wales, which inspired him to pursue a professional singing career.

He performed in countless operas, best known for his bel canto performances, including Madame Butterfly, Tosca, Turandot, and Nessun Dorma.

Pavarotti won Kennedy Center Honors, five Grammy Awards, and two Primetime Emmy Awards.

 

10. Marvin Gaye

Marvin Pentz Gaye Jr. (a.k.a. Marvin Gaye) was a strong contributor to the sound of Motown in the 60s, earning the title of “Prince of Soul.”

After singing in doo-wop groups as a teenager, Gaye signed with Tamla Records in 1960 and began releasing music and co-writing songs for other artists.

Some of Gaye’s greatest tracks include “I Hear It Through The Grapevine,” “Sexual Healing,” and “Let’s Get It On.”

The soul singer won two Grammy Awards and one NAACP Image Award. His album, What’s Going On, was also included in the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.

 

9. Ella Fitzgerald

The “First Lady of Song,” Ella Jane Fitzgerald, is also recognized as one of the best singers of all time, with her gorgeous tone and incredible scatting and improvisational skills.

When she was seventeen, she won first place at an Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, which led to years of performing with various bands and a successful solo career.

A few of Fitzgerald’s most famous tunes include “Cheek To Cheek,” “Dream A Little Dream Of Me,” and “It’s Only A Paper Moon.”

Her powerful voice earned her thirteen Grammys, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a National Medal of Arts.

 

8. Mariah Carey

American singer-songwriter, actress, and producer, Mariah Carey, is one of the best female singers of all time, known for her out-of-this-world runs and five-octave vocal range.

She signed with Columbia Records in 1990 and embarked on an incredible career as a solo artist, releasing countless popular songs, including “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” “Hero,” and “Fantasy.”

Carey has earned nineteen #1 Billboard Hot 100 singles, five Grammys, nineteen World Music Awards, and ten American Music Awards.

 

7. Frank Sinatra

Francis Albert Sinatra (known as Frank Sinatra) was one of the most popular singers in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, selling over 150 million records and becoming one of the world’s best-selling musicians.

Sinatra began performing professionally as a teenager, joining the Tommy Dorsey band in 1939, which led to a record deal with RCA Victor and, eventually, Capitol Records.

You probably recognize his most popular hits, including “My Way,” “Fly Me To The Moon,” and “That’s Life.”

The iconic singer earned eleven Grammy Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal.

 

6. Stevie Wonder

Stevland Hardaway Morris is an American singer-songwriter who has experienced a successful solo career experimenting across genres, from rhythm and blues to gospel.

Wonder is a child prodigy who signed with Tamla Records at eleven years old. At only thirteen, he became the youngest artist to ever top the Billboard Hot 100 with his first single, “Fingertips.”

A few of his other famous tunes include “Superstition,” “I Just Called To Say I Love You,” and “Isn’t She Lovely.”

Wonder’s achievements include twenty-five Grammy Awards, one Academy Award, and an induction into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame.

 

5. Elvis Presley

Elvis Aaron Presley is regarded as the “King of Rock and Roll,” best known for his energetic, provocative performances and smooth vocals.

The blues singer’s music career began after recording a few songs at Sun Records, ultimately leading to a recording deal with RCA Victor Records.

Some of Presley’s most famous tunes include “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Love Me Tender,” “and “Blue Suede Shoes.”

Presley’s most impressive accomplishments include being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, three Grammy Awards, and the Guinness World Records title of best-selling solo music artist of all time.

 

4. Whitney Houston

Whitney Elizabeth Houston is recognized as one of the best 80s female singers, with her powerful, soulful vocals and phenomenal belting ability.

She began playing at nightclubs with her mother as a teenager until she scored a record deal with Arista Records.

A few of Houston’s most popular tracks include “I Will Always Love You,” “How Will I Know,” and “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay.”

Among her many awards include six Grammys, two Emmy Awards, and inductions into the Grammy Hall of Fame and Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame.

 

3. Michael Jackson

Michael Joseph Jackson is often referred to as the “King of Pop,” known for his impressive vocals and phenomenal dance moves. His talent allowed him to enjoy a highly successful four-decade music career.

Jackson began singing as a young boy with his older brothers in the popular group, The Jackson 5. In 1971, he signed with Motown Records, which led to hits like “Beat It,” “Thriller,” and “Billie Jean.”

The singer is the most awarded solo artist in music history, earning one Golden Globe Award, thirty-nine Guinness World Records, fifteen Grammy Awards, and six Brit Awards.

 

2. Aretha Franklin

Aretha Louise Franklin (the “Queen of Soul”) is one of the world’s highest-selling music artists, earning worldwide acclaim for her soulful vocals.

When she was eighteen, she signed a record deal with Columbia Records, ultimately finding success after signing with Atlantic Records.

Among her greatest hits include “Respect,” “I Say A Little Prayer,” and “Chain Of Fools.”

Franklin won eighteen Grammys and the Presidential Freedom and was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and National Women’s Hall of Fame.

 

1. Freddie Mercury

Farrokh Bulsara, known by his stage name Freddie Mercury, was a British singer-songwriter with an impressive four-octave vocal range who rose to fame as the charismatic frontman of the rock band Queen.

After performing in various bands during his teenage years, Mercury formed Queen in 1970. Some of the group’s greatest hits include “We Are The Champions,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “Somebody To Love.”

Mercury was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame and has earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and an Ivor Novello Award.

 

Summary

We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of the best singers of all time and that you listen to some of their greatest hits!

With his astounding four-octave vocal range, passionate performances, and theatrical style, we felt Freddie Mercury deserved the top spot on this list.

However, all these phenomenal vocalists have made their mark on the world with their beautiful voices and songs, and we’re positive they’ll be remembered for years to come.

Who’s the best 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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