10 Greatest Female Singers

Covering a span of decades and many genres, the women on our list of the 10 greatest female singers of all time have one thing in common: the ability to stand on stage and grab an audience not only with a great voice, but with a passion that seems personally directed at each individual.

  1. Janis Joplin. Every time she took the stage, Janis Joplin never held back, giving her audience a gigantic piece of her heart. Number one on our list of great female singers, Janis’ raspy voice and disheveled appearance epitomized the hard-drinking, hard-living lifestyle that eventually would take her life at 27. And when she sang the blues, there was no doubt it came from personal pain.
  2. Linda Ronstadt. The cute, little girl with the big voice is next on our list of great female singers. Fronting the band “The Stone Poneys” before going off on a wildly successful solo career, Linda Ronstadt could combine innocence with sexiness as well as any singer of any era.
  3. Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul can belt ‘em out like few women on the planet. She is best known for hits like “Think” and “Respect,” but her amazing rendition of the Opera classic “Nessun Dorma” at the ’98 Grammy Awards makes her one of the greatest female singers of all time.
  4. Barbra Streisand. She was simply the gold standard for voices of the ‘60s. Whether doing it on the big screen as Fanny Brice in “Funny Girl,” appearing on TV variety shows, or performing on stage, her amazing voice earns Barbra Streisand a spot on our list of great female singers.
  5. Patsy Cline. Her distinct voice and style is unparalleled in the world of country music, making Patsy Cline an incredibly influential female singer. Her timeless recording of the Willie Nelson classic “Crazy” would be a crossover hit in any era.
  6. Natalie Maines. Lost in all the controversy over her George Bush statement is the fact that this Dixie Chick can sing better than most of her contemporaries. It’s unfortunate that the virtual banishment of Natalie Maines and her partners from country music has virtually silenced one of the greatest female singing voices in recording history.
  7. Christina Aguilera. Her tiny stature belies an amazingly booming singing voice. One of the most popular performers on today’s music scene, Christina Aguilera is far more than just another sexy, young temptress with a microphone—she is one of the most talented female singers around.
  8. Dusty Springfield. Dusty is the perfect name for a woman whose voice was definitely that. Among the most successful singers of the ‘60s, the Brit could go light and fluffy with “I Only Want to Be With You” or dramatic with “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me,” and do so with perfection.
  9. Joss Stone. As a teen, she flabbergasted audiences with her bluesy style, sexy voice and far-beyond-her-years poise. At home whether she’s singing the blues, soul, R&B or pop, Joss Stone is already among the greatest female singers ever to perform on stage.
  10. Ella Fitzgerald. When your nickname is “The First Lady of Song,” you should probably be included on any list of great female singers. A master of the jazz singing art of “scat,” Ella Fitzgerald amassed a collection of thirteen Grammies in a career that spanned six decades.
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