4.5k voters

The Best Female Musicians of All Time

Updated September 23, 2020 64.2k votes 4.5k voters 63.5k views191 items

List RulesVote up the female bands and musicians of all time, regardless of genre.

When it comes to the best female musicians of all time, there's a long list of female powerhouses that could be considered the greatest of all time. Whether it be a female-led band like Blondie or a group of female singers like the Supremes, music has seen some incredible females throughout its history. Of course, you also have to consider all the single ladies out there. You know, the top female vocalists like Etta James, Mariah Carey, Adele and P!nk, who made careers of their very own (among a great deal of others).

So, while you may have a favorite female singer of all-women band, it's time to rank the top female musicians of all time. That means any genre, any type of group, and any type of woman. From the girl groups of the 60s and 70s to the top female singers out right now, you certainly have your work cut out for you. Some of the greatest musical acts of all time have been led by females and some have been exclusively female. In fact, some even led bands and had successful solo careers—and both can be found on this list. That means if you like Gwen Stefani's music more than No Doubt, vote accordingly! 

Check out the extensive list of female musicians below and vote up your favorites, or those who you think are the absolute best. In short, who made the best music? Keep in mind, you can vote any female bands and singers down, as well as add your own picks to the list if they're missing. 

  • Aretha Franklin1

    Aretha Franklin

    Pop music, Rock music
    Aretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018) was an American singer, songwriter,...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Aretha Franklin 

    The Best Aretha Franklin Albums of All Time#55 of 162 1970s Christian Pop Artists

  • Nina Simone2

    Nina Simone

    Folk music, Rhythm and blues
    Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), known professionally as Nina...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Nina Simone 

    The Best Nina Simone Albums of All Time#143 of 193 Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely

  • Stevie Nicks3

    Stevie Nicks

    Classic rock, Pop music
    Stephanie Lynn Nicks (born May 26, 1948) is an American singer and songwriter. Nicks is best...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Stevie Nicks 

    Fascinating Stories From Stevie Nicks’s Love Life#16 of 213 The Greatest Rock Songwriters of All Time

  • Whitney Houston4

    Whitney Houston

    Pop music, Dance-pop
    Whitney Elizabeth Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012) was an American singer and...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Whitney Houston 

    The Best Whitney Houston Albums of All Time#939 of 2,443 The Most Influential People of All Time

  • Ella Fitzgerald5

    Ella Fitzgerald

    Ballad, Swing music
    Ella Jane Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996) was an African-American jazz singer...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Ella Fitzgerald 

    How Marilyn Monroe And Ella Fitzgerald's Friendship Gave Them Both Their Careers#138 of 164 The Greatest Jazz Pianists of All Time

  • Billie Holiday6

    Billie Holiday

    Torch song, Ballad
    Eleanora Fagan (April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959), better known as Billie Holiday, was an...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Billie Holiday 

    The Unprecedented Rise And Tragic Death Of Billie Holiday#70 of 265 Rank the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

  • Tina Turner7

    Tina Turner

    Rock music, Dance-pop
    Tina Turner (born Anna Mae Bullock, November 26, 1939) is an internationally recognized...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Tina Turner 

    The Best Tina Turner Songs#1247 of 1,355 The Greatest Minds of All Time

  • Amy Winehouse8

    Amy Winehouse

    Doo-wop, Pop music
    Amy Jade Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011) was an English singer and songwriter....  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Amy Winehouse 

    ‘Amy’ Is A Deeply Upsetting Documentary That Forced Us To Re-Examine Her Tragedy#12 of 152 The Greatest Musicians Who Died Before 40

  • Gladys Knight9

    Gladys Knight

    Rhythm and blues, Soul music
    Gladys Maria Knight (born May 28, 1944), known as the "Empress of Soul", is an American...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Gladys Knight 

    #9 of 74 Mormon Celebrities#82 of 603 The Best Rock Vocalists

  • Janis Joplin10

    Janis Joplin

    Blues-rock, Rock music
    Janis Lyn Joplin (January 19, 1943 – October 4, 1970) was an American rock, soul, and blues...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Janis Joplin 

    The Tortured, Painful Life of Janis Joplin, The Baddest Woman In Rock History#4 of 29 Members of The 27 Club

  • Dolly Parton11

    Dolly Parton

    Ballad, Country pop
    Dolly Rebecca Parton (born January 19, 1946) is an American singer, songwriter,...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Dolly Parton 

    Stories We Learned About Dolly Parton That Made Us Say, 'Really??'26 Weird And Charming Facts About Dolly Parton

  • Etta James12

    Etta James

    Rock music, Rhythm and blues
    Etta James (born Jamesetta Hawkins; January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012) was an American...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Etta James 

    The Best Etta James Albums of All Time#301 of 403 Famous Role Models We'd Like to Meet In Person

  • Adele13


    Pop, R&B
    Adele Laurie Blue Adkins (born 5 May 1988) is an English singer-songwriter. After graduating...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Adele 

    The Best Adele Albums, Ranked#74 of 269 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World

  • Beyoncé Knowles14
    Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter (born September 4, 1981) is an American singer, songwriter and...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Beyoncé Knowles 

    The Best Songs Ft. Beyonce#166 of 281 The Most Beautiful Women Of 2021, Ranked

  • Heart15


    Pop music, Rock music
    Heart is a rock band that first found success in Canada and later in the United States and...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Heart 

    #24 of 279 The Greatest American Rock Bands#113 of 392 The Greatest Heavy Metal Bands Of All Time

  • Kate Bush16

    Kate Bush

    Synthpop, Pop rock
    Catherine Bush (born 30 July 1958) is an English singer-songwriter and record producer. In...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Kate Bush 

    The Best Kate Bush Songs#307 of 583 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

  • Mariah Carey17

    Mariah Carey

    Pop, Contemporary R&B
    Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1970) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, record...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Mariah Carey 

    The Best Mariah Carey Albums of All Time#338 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

  • Pat Benatar18

    Pat Benatar

    New Wave, Rock music
    Patricia Mae Giraldo (née Andrzejewski; born January 10, 1953), who goes by the stage name Pat...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Pat Benatar 

    The Best Pat Benatar Albums of All Time#44 of 225 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters

  • Toni Braxton19

    Toni Braxton

    Hip hop music, Adult contemporary music
    Toni Michelle Braxton (born October 7, 1967) is an American singer, songwriter, pianist,...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Toni Braxton 

    The Best Toni Braxton Albums of All Time#76 of 213 The Best Current Female Singers

  • Diana Ross20

    Diana Ross

    Disco, Pop music
    Diana Ross (born March 26, 1944) is an American singer, actress, and record producer. Born and...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Diana Ross 

    #181 of 186 The Greatest Actresses Who Have Never Won an Oscar (for Acting)#294 of 349 The Best American Actresses Working Today

  • Patsy Cline21

    Patsy Cline

    Rock music, Swing music
    Patsy Cline (born Virginia Patterson Hensley; September 8, 1932 – March 5, 1963) was an...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Patsy Cline 

    #4 of 160 The Top Female Country Singers#5 of 215 The Greatest Classic Country & Western Artists Of All-Time

  • The Cranberries22

    The Cranberries

    Jangle pop, New Wave
    The Cranberries were an Irish rock band formed in Limerick, Ireland in 1989 by lead singer...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More The Cranberries 

    The Best Cranberries Albums of All Time#74 of 355 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

  • Annie Lennox23

    Annie Lennox

    Blue-eyed soul, New Wave
    Ann Lennox OBE (born 25 December 1954) is a Scottish singer-songwriter, political activist and...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Annie Lennox 

    The Best Annie Lennox Albums of All Time#165 of 271 The Sexiest Musical Artists of All Time

  • Sarah Vaughan24

    Sarah Vaughan

    Cool jazz, Traditional pop music
    Sarah Lois Vaughan (March 27, 1924 – April 3, 1990) was an American jazz singer. Nicknamed...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Sarah Vaughan 

    The Best Sarah Vaughan Albums of All Time#75 of 602 The Best Female Vocalists Ever

  • Alicia Keys25

    Alicia Keys

    Hip hop music, Pop music
    Alicia Augello Cook (born January 25, 1981), known professionally as Alicia Keys, is an ...  more
    Amazon buy button

    More Alicia Keys 

    The Best Songs Feat. Alicia Keys#9 of 198 The Greatest New Female Vocalists of the Past 10 Years