Music

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

Adam Tyler
Originally by
64k votes 12.7k 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!
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list ordered by
1
Ella Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Côte d'Azur Concerts on Verve, Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas, Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas
2
Billie Holiday is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Lady in Satin, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday at Newport, The Best of Billie Holiday
3
Sarah Vaughan is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Giants of Jazz, Basie-Vaughan, How Long Has This Been Going On?
4
Nina Simone is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
The Very Best of Nina Simone, Nina Simone Sings the Blues, At Carnegie Hall
5
Dinah Washington is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
For Those in Love, A Slick Chick (On the Mellow Side), Dinah '62
6
Nancy Wilson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
In Person, The Swingin's Mutual!, A Nancy Wilson Christmas
7
Carmen McRae is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday at Newport, Boy Meets Girl, Carmen Sings Monk
8
Peggy Lee is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
White Christmas, Christmas Carousel, Giants of Jazz
9
Lena Horne is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Merry From Lena, Stormy Weather, Seasons of a Life
10
Diana Krall is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Christmas Songs, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, When I Look in Your Eyes
11
Anita O'Day is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
motosaki added This is Anita, Anita O'Day Sings the Winners, Anita O'Day
12
Shirley Horn is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
You Won't Forget Me, I Remember Miles, I Love You
13
Etta James is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
jstyles1948 added At Last!, Tell Mama, I'd Rather Go Blind
14
Bessie Smith is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
jstyles1948 added Squeeze Me, The World's Greatest Blues Singer, 1923-1933 Empress of the Blues
15
Norah Jones is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Come Away With Me, Feels Like Home, The Fall
16
Amy Winehouse is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
TommyWimmer added Back to Black, Frank, Lioness: Hidden Treasures
17
Betty Carter is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Ray Charles and Betty Carter, Inside Betty Carter, I Can't Help It
18
Melody Gardot is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
My One and Only Thrill, Worrisome Heart, The Absence
19
Rosemary Clooney is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
aschultze added Christmas With Rosemary Clooney, A Very Special Christmas With Rosemary Clooney, Irving Berlin's "White Christmas"
20
Dianne Reeves is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan, Good Night, and Good Luck.
21
Natalie Cole is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Christmas With You, Unforgettable: With Love, This Will Be Natalie Cole's Everlasting Love
22
Abbey Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Straight Ahead, Wholly Earth, Devil's Got Your Tongue
23
Madeleine Peyroux is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Half the Perfect World, Dreamland, Careless Love
24
Cassandra Wilson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Belly of the Sun, New Moon Daughter, Blue Light 'til Dawn
25
Julie London is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Love Letters / Feeling Good, The End of the World / The Wonderful World Of, Ultra-Lounge