Music

The Greatest Black Female Singers 

Ranker Music
Originally by
Updated March 24, 2020 46.1k votes 7.2k voters 382.6k views 128 items

List Rules Vote up the top black female vocalists around the world.

Making some of the best R&B songs of the past year, they've provided the soundtrack to your first dance, your birthday bash, and your cross-country road trip. These are the greatest black female singers of all time, from Aretha to Mariah to Sade, as ranked by music enthusiasts like you. The women featured here are standouts in a number of genres. Some famous black female singers sing the blues while other top black woman artists are pop superstars. Many of the best black female singers have reached the top of the charts with their catchy tunes. They have careers that span the old guard of the '50s and '60s, on into the disco-dominated '70s and '80s, and through '90s, 2000s, and modern day. Many of the more recent entries on this list may have looked up to the older artists as legends when they were young girls, but today, they stand together as musical superstars.

What artist will you vote to the top of this list of the best black female singers? Maybe you're one of the millions of Beyonce fans. The singer's powerful voice and killer dance moves have earned her plenty of acclaim as one of the best black singers, but listeners also love her for her way of redefining pop music with her innovative hits. Lauryn Hill's soulful vocals helped the singer take home five Grammy awards for her iconic album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Other artists featured on this list include Tina Turner, Ella Fitzgerald, and Erykah Badu.

Do you have a favorite black female singer? This list includes African American women as well as black female vocalists from other countries. Give the best singers a thumbs up to move them towards the number-one spot, and add any singers who are missing.

list ordered by
1
Whitney Houston is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Pop music, Dance-pop & Contemporary R&B; Nationality: United States of America

More Whitney Houston 

#432 of 940 The Best Actresses in Film History #1 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever The Best Whitney Houston Albums of All Time

2
Aretha Franklin is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
3
Ella Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Ballad, Swing music & Traditional pop music; Nationality: United States of America

More Ella Fitzgerald 

#16 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time #250 of 2,828 The Most Influential People of All Time The Best Ella Fitzgerald Albums of All Time

4
Tina Turner is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Rock music, Dance-pop & Rhythm and blues; Nationality: Switzerland

More Tina Turner 

#19 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #26 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years The Best Tina Turner Songs

5
Billie Holiday is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Torch song, Ballad & Swing music; Nationality: United States of America

More Billie Holiday 

#29 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time #104 of 204 The Druggiest Rock Stars of All Time The Unprecedented Rise And Tragic Death Of Billie Holiday

6
Diana Ross is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Disco, Pop music & Dance music; Nationality: United States of America

More Diana Ross 

#707 of 940 The Best Actresses in Film History #238 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists

7
Etta James is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Rock music, Rhythm and blues & Rock and roll; Nationality: United States of America

More Etta James 

#102 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists #19 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever The Best Etta James Albums of All Time

8
Gladys Knight is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Rhythm and blues, Soul music & Gospel music; Nationality: United States of America

More Gladys Knight 

#184 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists #72 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Timelisted on Mormon Celebrities

9
Nina Simone is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Folk music, Rhythm and blues & Jazz; Nationality: United States of America

More Nina Simone 

#109 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time #145 of 199 Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely The Best Nina Simone Albums of All Time

10
Toni Braxton is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Hip hop music, Adult contemporary music & Pop music; Nationality: United States of America

More Toni Braxton 

#67 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #320 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time The Best Toni Braxton Songs

11
Lauryn Hill is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop & Neo soul; Nationality: United States of America

More Lauryn Hill 

#68 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever The Best Lauryn Hill Songslisted on The Complete List of Rappers Who've Been in Prison

12
Alicia Keys is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Hip hop music, Pop music & Neo soul; Nationality: United States of America

More Alicia Keys 

#5 of 218 The Greatest New Female Vocalists of the Past 10 Years #31 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years The Best Songs Feat. Alicia Keys

13
Beyoncé Knowles ... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
14
Anita Baker is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Kasir Radojica added Genre: Adult contemporary music, Quiet storm & Smooth jazz; Nationality: United States of America

More Anita Baker 

#85 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #522 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time The Best Anita Baker Albums of All Time

15
Mariah Carey is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Pop and Contemporary R&B; Nationality: United States of America

More Mariah Carey 

#840 of 940 The Best Actresses in Film History #4 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever The Best Mariah Carey Songs of All Time

16
Chaka Khan is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Hip hop music, Adult contemporary music & Disco; Nationality: United States of America

More Chaka Khan 

#60 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #290 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time The Best Chaka Khan Albums of All Time

17
Donna Summer is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: New Wave, Disco & Pop music; Nationality: United States of America

More Donna Summer 

#13 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #69 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time The Best Donna Summer Albums of All Time

18
Sade Adu is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
19
Mary J. Blige is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Hip hop music, Contemporary R&B & Rhythm and blues; Nationality: United States of America

More Mary J. Blige 

#203 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time #50 of 122 Current Singers You Most Wish You Could Sound Like The Best Mary J. Blige Albums of All Time

20
Roberta Flack is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Folk music, Rhythm and blues & Jazz; Nationality: United States of America

More Roberta Flack 

#346 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time #70 of 158 The Best Female Rock Singers #1,417 of 2,179 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

21
Mahalia Jackson is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Kasir Radojica added Genre: Gospel music; Nationality: United States of America

More Mahalia Jackson 

#1,364 of 2,828 The Most Influential People of All Time #206 of 373 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

22
Sarah Vaughan is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Jdoggy added Genre: Cool jazz, Traditional pop music & Vocal jazz; Nationality: United States of America

More Sarah Vaughan 

#50 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #101 of 158 The Best Female Rock Singers The Best Sarah Vaughan Albums of All Time

23
Patti LaBelle is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Doo-wop, Girl group & Ballad; Nationality: United States of America

More Patti LaBelle 

#244 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #71 of 158 The Best Female Rock Singers

24
Dionne Warwick is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Urban contemporary, Adult contemporary music & Pop music; Nationality: United States of America

More Dionne Warwick 

#54 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #130 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time The Best Dionne Warwick Albums of All Time

25
Brandy Norwood is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Hip hop music, Pop music & Dance-pop; Nationality: United States of America

More Brandy Norwood 

#214 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #214 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years The Best Brandy Norwood Albums of All Time