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

Adam Tyler
Originally by
58.9k votes 12k voters 1M views 228 items

List Rules Only Jazz singers. No other genres

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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
3,221 410
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

See: The Best Ella Fitzgerald Albums

2
2,042 389
Sarah Vaughan is listed (or ranked) 2 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?

See: The Best Sarah Vaughan Albums

3
2,818 313
Billie Holiday is listed (or ranked) 3 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

See: The Best Billie Holiday Albums

4
2,068 320
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

See: The Best Nina Simone Albums

5
1,227 206
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

See: The Best Dinah Washington Albums

6
838 220
Carmen McRae is listed (or ranked) 6 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

See: The Best Carmen McRae Albums

7
1,003 387
Peggy Lee is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
White Christmas, Christmas Carousel, Giants of Jazz

See: The Best Peggy Lee Albums

8
782 286
Anita O'Day is listed (or ranked) 8 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

See: The Best Anita O'Day Albums

9
936 212
Nancy Wilson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
In Person, The Swingin's Mutual!, A Nancy Wilson Christmas

See: The Best Nancy Wilson Albums

10
613 191
Shirley Horn is listed (or ranked) 10 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

See: The Best Shirley Horn Albums

11
795 150
Lena Horne is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Merry From Lena, Stormy Weather, Seasons of a Life

See: The Best Lena Horne Albums

12
1,486 683
Norah Jones is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Come Away With Me, Feels Like Home, The Fall

See: The Best Norah Jones Albums

13
1,585 561
Diana Krall is listed (or ranked) 13 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

See: The Best Diana Krall Albums

14
1,682 708
Amy Winehouse is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
TommyWimmer added Back to Black, Frank, Lioness: Hidden Treasures

See: The Best Amy Winehouse Songs

15
563 160
Betty Carter is listed (or ranked) 15 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

See: The Best Betty Carter Albums

16
1,145 141
Etta James is listed (or ranked) 16 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

See: The Best Etta Jones Albums

17
672 170
Dianne Reeves is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
The Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan, Good Night, and Good Luck.

See: The Best Dianne Reeves Albums

18
462 158
Abbey Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Straight Ahead, Wholly Earth, Devil's Got Your Tongue

See: The Best Abbey Lincoln Albums

19
661 117
Bessie Smith is listed (or ranked) 19 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

See: The Best Bessie Smith Albums

20
702 232
Natalie Cole is listed (or ranked) 20 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

See: The Best Natalie Cole albums

21
530 192
Rosemary Clooney is listed (or ranked) 21 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"

See: The Best Rosemary Clooney Albums

22
404 186
Jane Monheit is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
TomDuncan added Taking a Chance on Love, Come Dream With Me, Never Never Land

23
626 223
Melody Gardot is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
My One and Only Thrill, Worrisome Heart, The Absence

24
420 136
Eartha Kitt is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
That Bad Eartha, My Heart Belongs to Daddy, Purr-fect: Greatest Hits

See: The Best Eartha Kitt albums

25
494 173
Madeleine Peyroux is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Make Your Voice Heard: Who Are the Best Female Jazz Singers?
Half the Perfect World, Dreamland, Careless Love

See: The Best Madeleine Peyroux Albums