Jazz Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?  

Adam Tyler
Originally by
37k votes 8.7k voters 883k views 217 items Follow Embed

List Rules Only Jazz singers. No other genres

The best female jazz singers in music history have a sound that's like no other. Their melodies and tones captivate us and keep us coming back for more. Many of the women on this list have been gone for decades, but their incomparable jazz vocals will live on forever. Vote for your favorite famous female jazz vocalists and vote down any artists you don't like. Also, if you have a favorite who isn't listed here, add her! You can also rerank this list of top female jazz vocalists any way you like, including all of them or just a few. Enjoy!

How can any list of top female jazz vocalists not include the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan? Their unparalleled talents are indisputable. Once you get into the best female jazz singers' top 10, it's really hard to pick one over the other.

Arguments can be made, of course, that Sarah Vaughan's versatility makes her the best. Some might say that no one can or will ever match Ella Fitzgerald's incredible tone (and certainly her scat abilities). Others would argue that Billie Holiday is not only the greatest female jazz singer in history, but one of the best female vocalists ever.

Some of the best modern female jazz singers include the always wonderful Diana Krall, Melody Gardot, and certainly Esperanza Spalding and yes, even Norah Jones. Norah's sound is more of a jazzy fusion, but she makes the list. Defining a pure jazz singer isn't always easy: Like Norah, some of the women listed here are both jazz and blues. Either way, they're all fabulous, so vote!
list ordered by

1
+ - 2,339 251
Ella Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Ella Fitzgerald Ballad, Swing music, Traditional pop music - See The Best Ella Fitzgerald Albums

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2
+ - 1,527 220
Sarah Vaughan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Sarah Vaughan Cool jazz, Traditional pop music, Vocal jazz - See The Best Sarah Vaughan albums

3
+ - 2,025 229
Billie Holiday is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Billie Holiday Torch song, Ballad, Swing music - See The Best Billie Holiday albums

4
+ - 1,458 218
Nina Simone is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Nina Simone Folk music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz - See The Best Nina Simone albums

5
+ - 906 122
Dinah Washington is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Dinah Washington Traditional pop music, Vocal jazz, Rhythm and blues - See The Best Dinah Washington albums

6
+ - 589 131
Carmen McRae is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Carmen McRae Ballad, Traditional pop music, Vocal jazz - See The Best Carmen McRae albums

7
+ - 771 243
Peggy Lee is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Peggy Lee Traditional pop music, Jazz - See The Best Peggy Lee albums

8
+ - 552 170
Anita O'Day is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Anita O'Day Vocal jazz, Bebop - See The Best Anita O'Day albums

9
+ - 673 144
Nancy Wilson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Nancy Wilson Pop music, Cabaret, Jazz - See The Best Nancy Wilson albums

10
+ - 435 121
Shirley Horn is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Shirley Horn Jazz, Blues - See The Best Shirley Horn albums

11
+ - 1,249 375
Diana Krall is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Diana Krall Traditional pop music, Jazz, Bossa nova - See The Best Diana Krall albums

12
+ - 1,110 510
Norah Jones is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Norah Jones Vocal jazz, Jazz blues, Jazz fusion - See The Best Norah Jones albums

13
+ - 1,181 541
Amy Winehouse is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Amy Winehouse Doo-wop, Pop music, Neo soul - See The Best Amy Winehouse songs

14
+ - 365 112
Betty Carter is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Betty Carter Vocal jazz, Post-bop, Jazz - See The Best Betty Carter albums

15
+ - 526 94
Lena Horne is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Lena Horne Pop music, Traditional pop music, Vocal jazz - See The Best Lena Horne albums

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16
+ - 691 87
Etta James is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Etta James Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll - See The Best Etta Jones albums

17
+ - 392 120
Rosemary Clooney is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Rosemary Clooney Traditional pop music, Vocal jazz - See The Best Rosemary Clooney albums

18
+ - 478 122
Dianne Reeves is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Dianne Reeves See The Best Dianne Reeves albums

19
+ - 462 82
Bessie Smith is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Bessie Smith Jazz, Blues - See The Best Bessie Smith albums

20
+ - 299 106
Abbey Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Abbey Lincoln Jazz - See The Best Abbey Lincoln albums

21
+ - 384 90
Madeleine Peyroux is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Madeleine Peyroux Jazz, Blues - See The Best Madeleine Peyroux albums

22
+ - 477 134
Melody Gardot is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Melody Gardot Acoustic music, Jazz, Blues - See The Best Melody Gardot albums

23
+ - 493 161
Natalie Cole is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Natalie Cole Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Quiet storm - See The Best Natalie Cole albums

24
+ - 279 101
Jane Monheit is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Jane Monheit Traditional pop music, Jazz

25
+ - 346 69
Julie London is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Julie London Torch song, Pop music, Cool jazz

26
+ - 265 76
Eartha Kitt is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Eartha Kitt Torch song, Cabaret, Vocal jazz - See The Best Eartha Kitt albums

27
+ - 334 123
Esperanza Spalding is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Esperanza Spalding Neo soul, Jazz fusion, Jazz

28
+ - 269 90
Dee Dee Bridgewater is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Dee Dee Bridgewater Hip hop music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

29
+ - 378 91
Cassandra Wilson is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Cassandra Wilson Folk music, Jazz, Country - See The Best Cassandra Wilson albums

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30
+ - 283 93
Diane Schuur is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Diane Schuur Pop music, Jazz, Blues

31
+ - 222 67
Esther Phillips is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Esther Phillips Popular music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

32
+ - 194 59
June Christy is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
June Christy Pop music, Cool jazz, Jazz

33
+ - 207 86
Doris Day is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Doris Day Traditional pop music, Big band

34
+ - 302 62
Stacey Kent is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Stacey Kent Vocal jazz, Jazz

35
+ - 169 36
Blossom Dearie is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Blossom Dearie Cool jazz, Swing music, Traditional pop music

36
+ - 145 36
Astrud Gilberto is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Astrud Gilberto Brazilian jazz, Latin jazz, Bossa nova

37
+ - 159 51
Jo Stafford is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Jo Stafford Traditional pop music

38
+ - 179 78
The Andrews Sisters is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
The Andrews Sisters Girl group, Swing music, Boogie-woogie

39
+ - 171 89
Patricia Barber is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Patricia Barber Smooth jazz, Post-bop, Jazz

40
+ - 107 49
Joni Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

41
+ - 137 71
Sophie Milman is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Sophie Milman Traditional pop music, Jazz

42
+ - 112 64
Mary Lou Williams is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Mary Lou Williams Third stream, Swing music, Hard bop

43
+ - 140 62
Flora Purim is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Flora Purim Jazz fusion, Jazz

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44
+ - 112 48
Tierney Sutton is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

45
+ - 63 41
Mildred Bailey is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

46
+ - 88 74
Ann Hampton Callaway is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

47
+ - 71 63
Cheryl Bentyne is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

48
+ - 156 68
Renee Olstead is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Renee Olstead Pop music, Jazz, Country

49
+ - 117 44
Keely Smith is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Keely Smith Pop music, Jazz

50
+ - 60 26
Roberta Flack is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Roberta Flack Folk music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz