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

Adam Tyler
Originally by
44.2k votes 10.1k voters 948.7k views 222 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!
list ordered by

1
2,670 308
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

2
1,721 276
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

3
2,324 261
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
1,677 255
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
1,009 151
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
849 286
Peggy Lee is listed (or ranked) 6 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

7
653 161
Carmen McRae is listed (or ranked) 7 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

8
638 203
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
758 166
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
486 138
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
1,388 442
Diana Krall is listed (or ranked) 11 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

12
1,270 572
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

13
1,379 611
Amy Winehouse is listed (or ranked) 13 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

14
591 117
Lena Horne is listed (or ranked) 14 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

The Best Crossover Jazz Artists

15
418 126
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

16
840 107
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
539 141
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

18
438 148
Rosemary Clooney is listed (or ranked) 18 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

19
515 99
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
530 167
Melody Gardot is listed (or ranked) 20 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 - See The Best Melody Gardot albums

21
335 130
Abbey Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 21 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

The Most Famous Jazz Guitar Players

22
543 193
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

23
427 118
Madeleine Peyroux is listed (or ranked) 23 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

24
321 126
Jane Monheit is listed (or ranked) 24 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

25
398 89
Julie London is listed (or ranked) 25 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

26
387 143
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
308 100
Eartha Kitt is listed (or ranked) 27 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

28
304 108
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

The Greatest Jazz Trombonists of All Time

29
418 102
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
310 109
Diane Schuur is listed (or ranked) 30 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

31
251 81
Esther Phillips is listed (or ranked) 31 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

32
216 73
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

33
247 106
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

34
213 45
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?

35
347 76
Stacey Kent is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Stacey Kent Raconte-moi..., The Boy Next Door, Dreamsville

Kpop Idols Who Betrayed Their Record Company

36
190 48
Astrud Gilberto is listed (or ranked) 36 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

37
182 64
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

38
203 93
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

39
154 68
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

40
189 101
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

41
157 81
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
127 76
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 The Chronological Classics: Mary Lou Williams 1949-1951, The Chronological Classics: Mary Lou Williams 1951-1953, The Chronological Classics: Mary Lou Williams 1953-1954

The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 30

43
160 72
Flora Purim is listed (or ranked) 43 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

44
129 59
Tierney Sutton is listed (or ranked) 44 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

45
104 40
Roberta Flack is listed (or ranked) 45 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

46
84 71
Cheryl Bentyne is listed (or ranked) 46 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

47
100 87
Ann Hampton Callaway is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Ann Hampton Callaway To Ella With Love, Signature, After Ours

48
75 56
Mildred Bailey is listed (or ranked) 48 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

49
48 33
Ruth Brown is listed (or ranked) 49 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

50
132 54
Keely Smith is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Keely Smith The Wildest!, Buona Sera, Angelina