Top Ten Most Influential Female Singers of All Time
Music is an integral part of living. Through lyrics, melody and the overall sound of a song, emotions and thoughts are easily and clearly conveyed by the artist. This article brings praise to the greatest female singers to have surfaced in the last century.
Finding ten of the greatest female singers of all time can be pretty daunting, especially since there are so many über-talented female vocalists out there. This list contains ten of the most influential female musical artists in the past century.
#1 Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell is a Canadian musician, painter and songwriter. Her dexterity when it comes to guitars and songwriting and her unique and truly melodic voice have made her one of the most influential singers of the 20th century. During the 1970s,
Aside from being a great songwriter and singer, Mitchell has also been named one of the greatest guitarists of all time. Almost each song that she has composed on the guitar makes use of non-standard or open tuning, elaborate and rhythmic strumming and plucking, and percussive “slaps” that show her impressive guitar skills.
Artists like the late Jeff Buckley, Annie Lennox, Tori Amos, Elvis Costello, Prince, Madonna and Björk, have credited Mitchell as one of their greatest musical influences.
#2 Janis Joplin
#3 Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin is known worldwide as “The Queen of Soul.” Fans address her as “Sister Ree.” She comes in at number three because of her musical diversity and her incredible and powerful vocal range. Famous for her songs oozing with soul, Sister Ree is also well-loved because of her expertise in singing rock, blues, jazz, pop, gospel and opera.
She has eight consecutive and competitive trophies awarded to her from the years of 1968 to 1975 for the Grammy category, “Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.” Since then, the award has been nicknamed “The Aretha Award.”
#4 Billie Holiday
When it comes to jazz influence, few artists can rival Lady Day’s or Billie Holiday’s massive contribution. This American composer and jazz singer is considered one of the best female jazz vocalists of all time.
Despite the change in her voice, there is no contesting how the amount of emotions infused in every performance and heard in every song, remained full-force and consistent throughout her life.
#5 Carole King
A good deal of her singing years happened during the early 1970s. Since then, she has been known as one of the top songwriters in the music industry. A well-deserved fifth place for Carole King.
Remember that famous scene where Madonna supposedly hailed Britney Spears as her successor in that highly controversial number at the MTV Video Music Awards? Yes, that lip lock was immortalized by videos of the performance and screen capturess. It doesn’t matter how the “Queen of Pop” puckered up for the other “pop princess” Christina Aguilera; the point is, the way things are going, it seems Madonna is not going to relinquish her throne anytime soon.
The “Material Girl” is also famous for her use of religious, social and sexual themes on her different albums. She has sold over 232 million albums worldwide, and holds the record for the highest or top-grossing concert tour done by a female artist for her 2006 Confessions tour.
According to Forbes and the 2007 Guinness Book of Records, Madonna is also the “World’s Most-Successful Female Musician,” with an approximated net worth of more than $325 million.
#7 Dionne Warwick
She is most famous for her partnership with genius producers and songwriters like Hal David and Burt Bacharach. She has brought her fans monumental hits like “Don’t Make Me Over,” “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself,” “Walk On By” and “I’ll Say A Little Prayer.” Her unique and powerful voice makes her the perfect lucky number seven for our top ten list.
#8 Karen Carpenter
True, Karen Anne Carpenter, or simply Karen Carpenter, may have been part of the famous duo the Carpenters, but there’s no denying how influential she has been to numerous contemporary female vocalists. Not just a singer, Karen Carpenter was also an accomplished drummer, allowing a slew of female drummers to follow her footsteps.
She died tragically in 1983, at the very young age of 32. She had suffered from anorexia nervosa for years. Other great female artists like Shania Twain, K.D. Lang and Madonna have cited her as a primary musical influence.
#9 Diana Ross
Before Diana Ross became one of the most successful female musicians during the 1970s and 1980s, she was first the lead vocalist of the hit band The Supremes. She is renowned for her great vocal range and for being adept in singing soul, R&B, disco, jazz and pop.
Throughout her career, she has had eighteen number-one singles in America, making her the most successful female artist of the 20th century, according to Guinness World Records.
How about another interesting fact about this great female artist? She’s one of the very few artists with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame—one for being a member of the Supremes, and the other for her solo efforts.
The only Icelandic artist on our chart, Bjork is undoubtedly one of the best female singer-songwriters in the music industry. She is also an actress, a music producer and a composer. What sets her apart from other singers is her unusual and yet impressive vocals aside from her musical diversity.
With a number of the musical artists on our list from decades long gone, it only goes to show the immortal nature of music and how musical influences transcend generations and genres. If you enjoy reading this article, you’ll surely be delighted in learning how to make music everywhere and how to write music.
* There is little doubt that these ladies have shown the men all over the word how it’s done. But if there’s one genre of music feminists notoriously love to hate, it would definitely be hip hop, and some of the artists on our list of Top Ten Hip Hop Artists of All Time.