top best female singers
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Best Female Singers Of All Time, Ranked

Entertainment

| LAST UPDATE 01/03/2022

By Lia Thomson

These artists, whether they're still with us or not, had incredible vocal cords and they also knew how to give a good performance. Here's a list of the top woman singers based on Ranker's list of 100+ Best Female Vocalists.

30. Kelly Clarkson

The first-ever winner of American Idol was Kelly Clarkson. After the accomplishment in 2002, she quickly gained popularity. Her song, A Moment Like This, was the best-selling country track of the year.

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Clarkson was the first solo singer to reach the top of 5 Billboard charts, including pop, adult contemporary, country, adult pop, and dance. Rolling Stone's described her vocal abilities, "Her high notes are sweet and pillowy, her growl is bone-shaking and sexy, and her mid-range is amazingly confident."

29. Sia

Sia's career took off in 2014 after she had spent years producing and writing hit songs for other artists. Her 6th recorded album, 1000 Forms of Fear, reached No.1 on Billboard's Top 200. The following album she released included Cheap Thrills, her first track to chart at #1.

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Ranker named the singer their 29th Best Female Vocalist. She has a loud throatiness voice, which makes her songs sound incredible. Maddie Ziegler, who usually starred in Sias music videos, said, "Every time I’ve worked with her, it’s just so fun. We are like family.”

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28. Patti LaBelle

The "Godmother of Soul" Patti LaBelle was the lead singer of her band Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles. They mainly released songs in the genre of disco or soul. The group starred on the cover page of Rolling Stone's, making them the first all African American singing group to do so.

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Their song, Lady Marmalade, was charted at #1. Unfortunately, they broke up in 1976, and LaBelle gained fame as a solo artist. Labelle's record, Burnin, won a Grammy Award as Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. She also won another for her album, Live! One Night Only.

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27. Julie Andrews

Julie Andrew's career started out by performing on Broadway. The star was gifted in both singing and acting. Her rise to fame came when she starred in many musicals like The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins. She described her own voice as, "extremely high and thin."

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She earned 3 Grammy Awards and 6 Golden Globes, during her time in the entertainment industry. Andrews had never recorded her own music. She had just proved to have a lot of talent working on musicals. So, based on Ranker, she is number 27 Best Female Vocalist

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26. Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson didn't win the American Idol's 3rd annual contest, but she was a finalist. That helped her rise to fame and later go on to win various music awards. Hudson won a Golden Globe and 2 Grammys. One of which was for her self-titled album, under Best R&B Album.

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The 40-year old wasn't just talented in singing, she also had an acting career. Hudson starred in DreamGirls alongside Beyoncé. She won an Academy Award for her part in the movie, under Best Supporting Actress, making her the youngest African American to win an acting category. 

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25. Diana Ross

The 25th spot goes to Diana Ross, according to Ranker's list. The singer was a member of the best-charting girl group, The Supremes, with 12 songs that reached #1. After leaving the band, Ross had a successful solo career. In 1976, Billboard said she was the "Female Entertainer of the Century."

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The '60s star made various accomplishments. Ross has two Hollywood stars, she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and she was also the person who helped discover the Jackson 5. In 2012, she was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

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24. Etta James

Voted 24th Best Female Vocalist by Ranker was Etta James. She was also mentioned as one of the "Greatest Singers" by Rolling Stone. Her songs were arguably known around the world, from Sunday Kind of Love to At Last. It's clear James had a special voice.

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Bonnie Raitt said, "There's a lot going on in Etta James' voice. A lot of pain, a lot of life but, most of all, a lot of strength." The rhythm and blues singer won 6 Grammy Awards during her musical career. She was inducted into both the Rock and Roll and Blues Hall of Fame.

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23. Dionne Warwick

Dionne Warwick gained popularity for her pop and R&B music. Her soulful sound helped her become one of the best-charting artists. Warwick had 56 tracks reach Billboard's Hot 100. A few of her top hits include Walk On By, I Say a Little Prayer, and Heartbreaker.

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It comes as no surprise that Warwick won 5 Grammy Awards, 4 for her music, and one Lifetime Achievement. Grammy-winning song composer, Burt Bacharach, said, "She [Dionne] has a tremendous strong side and a delicacy when singing softly — like miniature ships in bottles." He was the one who found her talent back in 1962.

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22. Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse's rise to fame was fast, her debut album went on to win multiple Grammy Awards. Winehouse was possibly best known for her strong vocal abilities and contralto voice. Her record, Back to Black, was a huge success. It was one of UK's best-selling albums. 

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In 2008, she achieved the then record of winning the most Grammy Awards in one night, 5. Three of those wins were out of the top 4 categories. Many of today's artists have shared that Winehouse was their inspiration, such as Adele, Lady Gaga, Lana Del Rey, and more.

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21. Lady Gaga

Popstar Lady Gaga achieved fame for her catchy tunes and phenomenal vocal range. In 2019, the singer became the first-ever woman in history to win all 5 'big awards' in just one year! Gaga also got 3 Grammy Awards, and an Oscar for her original track Shallow from the movie A Star is Born.

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She also received a BAFTA award, a Golden Globe, and Critics Choice Award. Before this accomplishment, she was named the first female of the 2010s to have 4 albums reach number 1. Gaga excelled at songwriting, singing, and playing the piano. Ranker placed her as the 21st Best Female Voice Ever.

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20. Judy Garland

Wizard of Oz star Judy Garland was an arguably very iconic Hollywood star. She was the first female to ever win a Grammy Award for the category Best Album of the Year in 1962, such an accomplishment! The record that she won was for Judy at Carnegie Hall.

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But that's not all! The debut album was also granted 4 other Grammys and even charted as No.1 for 13 consecutive weeks. Camille Paglia said in The New York Times, "Garland was a personality on the grand scale who makes our current crop of pop stars look lightweight and evanescent."

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19. Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks had a successful career both while working with Fleetwood Mac and as a solo artist. The band was one of the best-selling groups, and they were even inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But, Nicks was also able to accomplish both those achievements when she worked alone.

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Rolling Stone's named the singer "Reigning Queen of Rock n Roll," and they included her in their list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Nick's remarkable voice and incredible songwriting abilities are probably the reason she has won 8 Grammy Awards.

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18. Barbra Streisand

Just as Ranker's list put it, Barbra Streisand is the 18th Best Female Artist. Billboard named her the first woman to ever make an album hit the Top 20 list in every decade since the '60s. Streisand's songs also topped charts, with 5 of them being number-one singles.

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All around the world, the star sold nearly 150 million records, making her one of the best-selling singers. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) reported her to be the highest-certified female artist because she has 68.5 million certified album units.

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17. Tina Turner

Tina Turner, the "Queen of Rock and Roll," was possibly one of history's best selling singers. Her smash hit What's Love Got to Do With It was given a Grammy award for Best Record of the Year. The song, which was on her album, Private Dancer, was Turner's first track to hit #1 on Billboards Hot 100.

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The infamous artist achieved a Guinness World Record for selling the most concert tickets than any other solo singer to ever do so. Beyoncé once said to Rolling Stone, "I’ll never forget the first time I saw [Tina] perform, I never in my life saw a woman so powerful, so fearless.” Turner was, of course, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.

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16. Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera started her career as a child star on The Mickey Mouse Club. But she then grew up to become one of the '90s hottest teen sensations. Three of her songs reached #1 on Billboards Hot 100, including Genie in a Bottle, What a Girl Wants, and Come On Over Baby.

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Aguilera was even included in Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Herbie Hancock, who back in 2005, worked with the talented vocalist, said, "I knew she could really sing, but I didn't know she could sing like that. She knocked me out."

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15. Donna Summer

Voted the 15th Top Female Artist by Ranker, is Donna Summer. The singer was arguably internationally recognized in the '70s and '80s. "The Queen of Disco" was the first ever to have 3 albums reach No.1 in a row! Summer helped pave the music industry for following stars like Madonna and Beyoncé.

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According to Summer's mom, she was a natural-born singer, "From the time she was little, that's all she really did. She literally lived to sing ... She used to go through the house singing, singing. She sang for breakfast and for lunch and for supper."

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14. Gladys Knight

Gladys Knight was also known as the "Empress of Soul," She achieved 7 Grammy awards, 4 were as a solo singer, and 3 with her band The Pips. Her top two hit racks were Midnight Train to Georgia and, That's What Friends Are For which hit the top of Billboards Hot 100.

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Knight was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 by Mariah Carey, a fellow singer she had inspired. Carey said, "She's like a textbook to learn from. You hear her delivery, and you wish you could communicate with as much honesty and emotion as she does."

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13. Ann Wilson

The lead rock singer for the band Heart was Ann Wilson. The group, made up of Wilson and her younger sister, Nancy, was the first all-female rock band. The two rose to fame after opening for Rod Stewart in 1975. They recorded many successful albums, which included many Top 40 singles.

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Wilson and her powerful soprano voice went on to be a solo artist. She said, "I’m not a very calculating songwriter. I write from an emotional base, and the songs that I choose to cover are chosen from the same base. It’s just songs that ring some bell inside me.”

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12. Nina Simone

Nina Simone was named 12th Best Female Artist by Ranker. The singer sang jazz, classical, and gospel music. Simone was a prime voice for the civil rights movement before she gained popularity for her song I Loves You, Porgy. Which received the Grammy Hall of Fame award in 2000.

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Sadly, after she passed away, Simone earned even more awards. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And the Library of Congress even revealed that her song Mississippi Goddam was inducted into the national record registry because it was “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

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11. Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton is arguably best known for her unique voice, which she described as, "A cross between Tiny Tim and a nanny goat." Yet despite her self-doubt, she had her smashing hit song Jolene inducted into the Grammy's Hall of Fame. Parton was a well-achieved singer of the '70s.

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The star had songs from almost every genre, like country, folk, and even pop music! The icon explained, "Each song has its own message and its own dynamics and range. I don't try to do anything but listen to the words and act them out vocally, as an actor would act out a scene."

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10. Patsy Cline

Patsy Cline's career reached its peak in the early '60s. Her work in the music industry was an influence on later artists. Cline made history in the music industry when she became the first country star to switch into a more pop genre. She had two number-one songs.

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The singer helped set the stage for other singers like Dolly Parton, Faith Hill, and Taylor Swift. The country star, LeAnn Rimes, was also influenced by Cline. She said, "I remember my dad telling me to listen to the way she told a story. I remember feeling more emotion when she sang than anyone else I had ever heard."

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9. Linda Ronstadt

In 9th place, is 11-time Grammy winner, Linda Ronstadt. Since her rise to fame in the '60s, the singer worked with many stars and won multiple big awards. At one point, she was even the highest-paid female in Rock and Roll history. She is sometimes referred to as "The First Lady of Rock."

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With over 100 million records sold, most of Rondast's albums were certified multi-platinum, platinum, or gold. In 2014, the rockstar was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This comes as no surprise since she paved the way for following female rock artists.

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8. Billie Holiday

Philadelphia-born, Billie Holiday, was a talented Jazz singer. After getting her career started by singing in Harlem clubs, she was officially signed to a record label in 1935. Her beloved voice led to her selling out not 1, not 2, but 3 Carnegie Hall performances.

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Holiday's song Crazy He Call Me was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. John Hammond, the music producer that discovered her said, "Her singing almost changed my music tastes and my musical life because she was the first girl singer I'd come across who actually sang like an improvising jazz genius."

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7. Adele

Adele became internationally known in 2017 for her album 21, which broke the record as a best-selling album by a female singer. With an unbelievable range and belting abilities, it's clear why she's won multiple awards, from Grammy's to Academy Awards and more.

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Adele was named "the world's biggest superstar" by Insider. And the successful star's music video for Hello broke the Guinness World Records for fastest Youtube video to ever reach a billion views. Her ability to write hit records continued. Most recently, her latest album, 30, became the best selling record of 2021.

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6. Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald was arguably recognized internationally for her jazz songs. She became known as the "Queen of Jazz." Fitzgerald's broad vocal range and close to perfect pitch is probably what earned her the 6th spot on Ranker's list of Best Female Voices.

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The artist was awarded 13 Grammys, and she also sold over 40 million copies of her albums. But, perhaps her greatest accomplishment during her career was when she became the first woman to win the Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, in 1967.

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5. Mariah Carey

Based on Ranker's list, the "Queen of Christmas" is the 5th best female singer of all time. Her song, All I Want For Christmas, became an iconic track. Each year during the holiday season, the song tops the charts, even more than 25 years after first being dropped.

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She isn't just known for that song, Carey also had 19 singles hit #1 on Billboards Top 100. Making her the first solo (and female) artist to ever do so. Rolling Stone's called her, "One of the most gifted and influential R&B singers of her generation, she is... a versatile performer with total command over her incredible voice.”

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4. Celine Dion

Celine Dion possibly holds one of the most powerful voices. She won the Eurovision Song Contest back in 1988. At the time, Dion was only making records in French. The singer made international headlines a decade later when she started releasing English records.

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The My Heart Will Go On artist became the 6th top-selling female singer worldwide, with roughly 200 million sales. But, she was named the #1 selling artist in Canada. Dion's music combines different genres, from pop, R&B, gospel, and pop. Her talents have gotten her many Billboard #1 songs during her career.

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3. Karen Carpenter

Karen Carpenter was both a talented singer and drummer. She played the instrument when she was a part of the two-person group, The Carpenters, with her brother, Richard. Later in her career, she sang solo tunes using her arguably recognizable three-octave contralto singing voice.

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Her voice received praise from various other famous celebrities, including The Beatle's very own, Paul Macarthy, who said she was, "The best female voice in the world: melodic, tuneful and distinctive." It's clear why she made it to the top three spots of best singers.

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2. Aretha Franklin

The "Queen of Soul" was one of history best selling artists. Based on Ranker's list of Best Vocalists, Aretha Franklin is in second place. Frankin became recognized for her confidence and ability to unapologetically express herself through her incredible voice.

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The singer earned 18 Grammy awards during her career. And in 1987, she became the first woman inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Fellow artist Mary J. Bilge said, "Aretha has everything — the power, the technique. She is honest with everything she says. Everything she’s thinking or dealing with is all in the music."

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1. Whitney Houston

According to Ranker's 100+ Best Female Vocalists Ever, Whitney Houston is the number 1. For her broad vocal abilities to her alluring concerts. Houston sold nearly 200 million albums internationally. She's arguably known as one of the most influential and awarded singers.

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Artists such as Beyoncé, Mary J. Bilge, and Faith Evans were inspired by the star, who got her career started at the young age of 19. Houston sang her heart out till she, unfortunately, passed away at the age of 48. At the time she was the first singer to chart 7 #1 Billboards Hot 100 in a row.

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