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

Originally By 26k votes 6.6k voters 756k views 158 items tags f p @

List Criteria: 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!
Collection Photo:  via wikimedia
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  1. 1
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    Ella Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

    the people's #1 & most listed
    Ballad, Swing music, Traditional pop music See The Best Ella Fitzgerald Albums

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  2. 2
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    Torch song, Ballad, Swing music See The Best Billie Holiday albums

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  3. 3
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    Sarah Vaughan is listed (or ranked) 3 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

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  4. 4
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    Folk music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz See The Best Nina Simone albums

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  5. 5
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    Traditional pop music, Vocal jazz, Rhythm and blues See The Best Dinah Washington albums

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  6. 6
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    Peggy Lee is listed (or ranked) 6 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

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  7. 7
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    added by motosaki
    Vocal jazz, Bebop See The Best Anita O'Day albums

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  8. 8
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    Carmen McRae is listed (or ranked) 8 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

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  9. 9
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    ranked low on reranks
    Pop music, Cabaret, Jazz See The Best Nancy Wilson albums

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  10. 10
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    Norah Jones is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Vocal jazz, Jazz blues, Jazz fusion See The Best Norah Jones albums

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  11. 11
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    Diana Krall is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

    ranked low on reranks
    Traditional pop music, Jazz, Bossa nova See The Best Diana Krall albums

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  12. 12
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    Shirley Horn is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?


    Shirley Horn Jazz, Blues See The Best Shirley Horn albums

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  13. 13
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    added by TommyWimmer
    Doo-wop, Pop music, Neo soul See The Best Amy Winehouse songs

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  14. 14
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    Bessie Smith is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

    added by jstyles1948
    Bessie Smith Jazz, Blues See The Best Bessie Smith albums

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  15. 15
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    Dianne Reeves is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?


    Dianne Reeves See The Best Dianne Reeves albums

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  16. 16
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    Betty Carter is listed (or ranked) 16 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

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  17. 17
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Jazz See The Best Abbey Lincoln albums

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  18. 18
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    Lena Horne is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

    ranked low on reranks
    Lena Horne Pop music, Traditional pop music, Vocal jazz See The Best Lena Horne albums

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  19. 19
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    Etta James is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

    ranked low on reranks & added by jstyles1948
    Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll See The Best Etta Jones albums

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  20. 20
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    Melody Gardot is listed (or ranked) 20 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

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  21. 21
    + 396
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    Natalie Cole is listed (or ranked) 21 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

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  22. 22
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    Torch song, Cabaret, Vocal jazz See The Best Eartha Kitt albums

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  23. 23
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    added by aschultze
    Traditional pop music, Vocal jazz See The Best Rosemary Clooney albums

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  24. 24
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    Hip hop music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

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  25. 25
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    often listed & added by jstyles1948
    Popular music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

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  26. 26
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    ranked low on reranks
    Jazz, Blues See The Best Madeleine Peyroux albums

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  27. 27
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    Pop music, Jazz, Blues

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  28. 28
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    ranked low on reranks
    Torch song, Pop music, Cool jazz

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  29. 29
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    Folk music, Jazz, Country See The Best Cassandra Wilson albums

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  30. 30
    + 119
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Traditional pop music

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  31. 31
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    Neo soul, Jazz fusion, Jazz

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  32. 32
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    Jane Monheit is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

    added by TomDuncan
    Jane Monheit Traditional pop music, Jazz

  33. 33
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    ranked low on reranks
    Vocal jazz, Jazz

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  34. 34
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    Doris Day is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?


    Doris Day Traditional pop music, Big band

  35. 35
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    Pop music, Cool jazz, Jazz

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  36. 36
    + 124
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    added by aschultze
    Girl group, Swing music, Boogie-woogie

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  37. 37
    + 117
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    Blossom Dearie is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

    added by ThomasBreuer
    Blossom Dearie Cool jazz, Swing music, Traditional pop music

  38. 38
    + 150
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    Melis Bilen is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

    added by ozzyn
    Melis Bilen Pop music, Operatic pop, Rhythm and blues

  39. 39
    + 119
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    added by RsdofnyUs
    Smooth jazz, Post-bop, Jazz

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  40. 40
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    added by patrick.christie
    Traditional pop music, Jazz

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  41. 41
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    Jazz

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  42. 42
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    Third stream, Swing music, Hard bop

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  43. 43
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    Astrud Gilberto is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

    added by looksharp
    Astrud Gilberto Brazilian jazz, Latin jazz, Bossa nova

  44. 44
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    added by MarkBroersen
    Jazz fusion, Jazz

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  45. 45
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    Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Jazz fusion

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  46. 46
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  47. 47
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    Renee Olstead is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

    ranked low on reranks
    Renee Olstead Pop music, Jazz, Country

  48. 48
    + 54
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    Maxine Sullivan is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

    added by jstyles1948
    Maxine Sullivan Jazz, Blues

  49. 49
    + 56
    - 40
    Cheryl Bentyne is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?


    Cheryl Bentyne

  50. 50
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    Jazz

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