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

Adam Tyler
Originally by
33k votes 8k voters 738k views 197 items 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!

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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?
Ella Fitzgerald Ballad, Swing music, Traditional pop music - See The Best Ella Fitzgerald Albums

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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Carmen McRae is listed (or ranked) 7 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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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

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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

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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

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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?
Diana Krall Traditional pop music, Jazz, Bossa nova - See The Best Diana Krall albums

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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

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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

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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

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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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Rosemary Clooney is listed (or ranked) 16 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

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Dianne Reeves is listed (or ranked) 17 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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Bessie Smith is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Bessie Smith Jazz, Blues - See The Best Bessie Smith albums

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

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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

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Etta James is listed (or ranked) 21 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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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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

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+ - 204 57
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

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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

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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

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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

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Astrud Gilberto is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Astrud Gilberto Brazilian jazz, Latin jazz, Bossa nova

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Jo Stafford is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Jo Stafford Traditional pop music

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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?
Blossom Dearie Cool jazz, Swing music, Traditional pop music

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+ - 161 67
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

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+ - 158 78
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

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+ - 126 62
Sophie Milman is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Sophie Milman Traditional pop music, Jazz

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+ - 106 58
Mary Lou Williams is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Mary Lou Williams Third stream, Swing music, Hard bop

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Flora Purim is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Flora Purim Jazz fusion, Jazz

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

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Joni Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

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Ann Hampton Callaway is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

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Mildred Bailey is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

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Melis Bilen is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Melis Bilen Pop music, Operatic pop, Rhythm and blues

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Cheryl Bentyne is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?

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Renee Olstead is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Renee Olstead Pop music, Jazz, Country

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Keely Smith is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Keely Smith Pop music, Jazz