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

Adam Tyler
Originally by
53.6k votes 11.4k voters 1M views 228 items

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!

1
3,095 379
Ella Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Ella Fitzgerald Côte d'Azur Concerts on Verve, Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas, Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas

See: The Best Ella Fitzgerald Albums

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1,955 362
Sarah Vaughan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Sarah Vaughan Giants of Jazz, Basie-Vaughan, How Long Has This Been Going On?

See: The Best Sarah Vaughan Albums

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2,705 300
Billie Holiday is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Billie Holiday Lady in Satin, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday at Newport, The Best of Billie Holiday

See: The Best Billie Holiday Albums

4
1,981 303
Nina Simone is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Nina Simone The Very Best of Nina Simone, Nina Simone Sings the Blues, At Carnegie Hall

See: The Best Nina Simone Albums

5
1,179 195
Dinah Washington is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Dinah Washington For Those in Love, A Slick Chick (On the Mellow Side), Dinah '62

See: The Best Dinah Washington Albums

6
794 206
Carmen McRae is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Carmen McRae Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday at Newport, Boy Meets Girl, Carmen Sings Monk

See: The Best Carmen McRae Albums

7
961 368
Peggy Lee is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Peggy Lee White Christmas, Christmas Carousel, Giants of Jazz

See: The Best Peggy Lee Albums

8
737 274
Anita O'Day is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
motosaki added Anita O'Day This is Anita, Anita O'Day Sings the Winners, Anita O'Day

See: The Best Anita O'Day Albums

9
890 201
Nancy Wilson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Nancy Wilson In Person, The Swingin's Mutual!, A Nancy Wilson Christmas

See: The Best Nancy Wilson Albums

10
572 177
Shirley Horn is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Shirley Horn You Won't Forget Me, I Remember Miles, I Love You^! Paris

See: The Best Shirley Horn Albums

11
749 135
Lena Horne is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Lena Horne Merry From Lena, Stormy Weather, Seasons of a Life

See: The Best Lena Horne Albums

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1,430 639
Norah Jones is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Norah Jones Come Away With Me, Feels Like Home, The Fall

See: The Best Norah Jones Albums

The Best Female Rock Singers

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1,516 531
Diana Krall is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Diana Krall Christmas Songs, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, When I Look in Your Eyes

See: The Best Diana Krall Albums

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1,608 674
Amy Winehouse is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
TommyWimmer added Amy Winehouse Back to Black, Frank, Lioness: Hidden Treasures

See: The Best Amy Winehouse Songs

15
519 151
Betty Carter is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Betty Carter Ray Charles and Betty Carter, Inside Betty Carter, I Can't Help It

See: The Best Betty Carter Albums

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1,076 131
Etta James is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
jstyles1948 added Etta James At Last!, Tell Mama, I'd Rather Go Blind

See: The Best Etta Jones Albums

17
633 163
Dianne Reeves is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Dianne Reeves The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan, Good Night, and Good Luck.

See: The Best Dianne Reeves Albums

The Druggiest Rock Stars of All Time

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381 170
Jane Monheit is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
TomDuncan added Jane Monheit Taking a Chance on Love, Come Dream With Me, Never Never Land

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625 113
Bessie Smith is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
jstyles1948 added Bessie Smith Squeeze Me, The World's Greatest Blues Singer, 1923-1933 Empress of the Blues

See: The Best Bessie Smith Albums

20
421 149
Abbey Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Abbey Lincoln Straight Ahead, Wholly Earth, Devil's Got Your Tongue

See: The Best Abbey Lincoln Albums

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500 182
Rosemary Clooney is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
aschultze added Rosemary Clooney Christmas With Rosemary Clooney, A Very Special Christmas With Rosemary Clooney, Irving Berlin's "White Christmas"

See: The Best Rosemary Clooney Albums

22
674 215
Natalie Cole is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Natalie Cole Christmas With You, Unforgettable: With Love, This Will Be Natalie Cole's Everlasting Love

See: The Best Natalie Cole albums

The Greatest Female Gospel Singers

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590 208
Melody Gardot is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Melody Gardot My One and Only Thrill, Worrisome Heart, The Absence

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466 155
Madeleine Peyroux is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Madeleine Peyroux Half the Perfect World, Dreamland, Careless Love

See: The Best Madeleine Peyroux Albums

25
394 121
Eartha Kitt is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Eartha Kitt That Bad Eartha, My Heart Belongs to Daddy, Purr-fect: Greatest Hits

See: The Best Eartha Kitt albums

26
444 175
Esperanza Spalding is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Esperanza Spalding Chamber Music Society, Esperanza, Junjo

27
456 119
Julie London is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Julie London Love Letters / Feeling Good, The End of the World / The Wonderful World Of, Ultra-Lounge

See: The Best Julie London Albums

The 37 Greatest On-Stage Falls of All Time

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359 135
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 Love and Peace: A Tribute to Horace Silver, Dear Ella, This Is New

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477 124
Cassandra Wilson is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Cassandra Wilson Belly of the Sun, New Moon Daughter, Blue Light 'til Dawn

See: The Best Cassandra Wilson albums

30
307 98
Esther Phillips is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
jstyles1948 added Esther Phillips Anthology, And I Love Him! / Esther, Alone Again

See: The Best Esther Phillips Albums 

31
341 135
Diane Schuur is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Diane Schuur Diane Schuur & The Count Basie Orchestra, Midnight, Schuur Fire

See: The Best Diane Schuur Albums

32
254 94
June Christy is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
June Christy The Song Is June!, Somewhere There's Music, Something Cool

The Greatest New Female Vocalists of the Past 10 Years

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306 126
Doris Day is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Doris Day The Doris Day Christmas Album, Young Man With a Horn, Cuttin' Capers / Bright & Shiny

See: The Best Doris Day Albums 

34
257 71
Blossom Dearie is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
ThomasBreuer added Blossom Dearie Blossom Dearie Sings Comden and Green, Blossom Dearie, May I Come In?

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235 71
Astrud Gilberto is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
looksharp added Astrud Gilberto Gilberto with Turrentine, A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness

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383 99
Stacey Kent is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Stacey Kent Raconte-moi..., The Boy Next Door, Dreamsville

37
207 86
Jo Stafford is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Jo Stafford Happy Holiday, The Joyful Season, Just Reminiscin

The Things You Wish You Were Better At

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236 109
The Andrews Sisters is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
aschultze added The Andrews Sisters A Merry Christmas With Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, The Andrews Sisters Christmas, Andrews Sisters Meet Bing Crosby

See: The Best Andrews Sisters Albums

39
201 94
Joni Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Joni Mitchell Blue, Court and Spark, Ladies of the Canyon

See: The Best Joni Mitchell Songs

40
207 128
Patricia Barber is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
RsdofnyUs added Patricia Barber Nightclub, The Premonition Years: 1994-2002, Modern Cool

See: The Best Patricia Barber Albums 

41
182 103
Sophie Milman is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
patrick.christie added Sophie Milman Sophie Milman, Make Someone Happy, Her Very Best… So Far

42
165 56
Roberta Flack is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Roberta Flack The Christmas Album, Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flack Featuring Donny Hathaway

The Worst Albums by Great Bands

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154 98
Mary Lou Williams is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Mary Lou Williams The Chronological Classics: Mary Lou Williams 1949-1951, The Chronological Classics: Mary Lou Williams 1951-1953, The Chronological Classics: Mary Lou Williams 1953-1954

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178 95
Flora Purim is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
MarkBroersen added Flora Purim The Magicians, Butterfly Dreams, Queen of the Night

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152 34
Etta Jones is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Justin Case added Etta Jones Don't Go to Strangers, From the Heart, The Best of Etta Jones: The Prestige Singles

46
141 83
Tierney Sutton is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Tierney Sutton Sosv1, I'm With the Band, Introducing Tierney Sutton

47
70 49
Ruth Brown is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
rick-scott added Ruth Brown Blues on Broadway, Miss Rhythm (Greatest Hits and More), Miss Rhythm: The Rest & More of the Best

48
97 92
Cheryl Bentyne is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Cheryl Bentyne Let Me Off Uptown, Talk of the Town, Let's Misbehave: the Cole Porter Song Book

49
110 107
Ann Hampton Callaway is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Ann Hampton Callaway To Ella With Love, Signature, After Ours

50
82 75
Mildred Bailey is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Mildred Bailey All of Me, Cocktail Hour, The Chronological Classics: Mildred Bailey 1929-1932