Music

The Greatest Black Female Singers 

Ranker Music
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Updated July 8, 2020 49.6k votes 7.6k voters 409k views 124 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 

The Best Whitney Houston Albums of All Time #1 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #3 of 1,043 The Best Singers 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 

The Best Ella Fitzgerald Albums of All Time #6 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #14 of 1,043 The Best Singers 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 

The Best Tina Turner Songs #18 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #122 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

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 

The Unprecedented Rise And Tragic Death Of Billie Holiday #16 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #482 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time

6
Gladys Knight is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Rhythm and blues, Soul music & Gospel music; Nationality: United States of America

More Gladys Knight 

#97 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists #13 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Everlisted on Mormon Celebrities

7
Diana Ross is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Disco, Pop music & Dance music; Nationality: United States of America

More Diana Ross 

#110 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists #31 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #88 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

8
Nina Simone is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Folk music, Rhythm and blues & Jazz; Nationality: United States of America

More Nina Simone 

The Best Nina Simone Albums of All Time #17 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #503 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time

9
Etta James is listed (or ranked) 9 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 

The Best Etta James Albums of All Time #62 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists #24 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever

10
Mariah Carey is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Pop and Contemporary R&B; Nationality: United States of America

More Mariah Carey 

The Best Mariah Carey Songs of All Time #244 of 668 The Best Rock Vocalists #4 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever

11
Beyoncé Knowles ... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
12
Lauryn Hill is listed (or ranked) 12 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 

The Best Lauryn Hill Songs #52 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Everlisted on The Complete List of Rappers Who've Been in Prison

13
Alicia Keys is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Hip hop music, Pop music & Neo soul; Nationality: United States of America

More Alicia Keys 

The Best Songs Feat. Alicia Keys #32 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #11 of 218 The Greatest New Female Vocalists of the Past 10 Years

14
Toni Braxton is listed (or ranked) 14 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 

The Best Toni Braxton Albums of All Time #39 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #501 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time

15
Anita Baker is listed (or ranked) 15 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 

The Best Anita Baker Albums of All Time #68 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #33 of 1,043 The Best Singers 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 

The Best Chaka Khan Albums of All Time #155 of 265 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters #64 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever

17
Sade Adu is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
18
Donna Summer is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: New Wave, Disco & Pop music; Nationality: United States of America

More Donna Summer 

The Best Donna Summer Albums of All Time #10 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #30 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time

19
Brandy Norwood is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Hip hop music, Pop music & Dance-pop; Nationality: United States of America

More Brandy Norwood 

The Best Brandy Norwood Albums of All Time #251 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #709 of 940 The Best Actresses in Film History

20
Jennifer Hudson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Tom Islava added Genre: Pop music, Contemporary R&B & Soul music; Nationality: United States of America

More Jennifer Hudson 

The Best Jennifer Hudson Songs #22 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #25 of 218 The Greatest New Female Vocalists of the Past 10 Years

21
Mary J. Blige is listed (or ranked) 21 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 

The Best Mary J. Blige Albums of All Time #51 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #396 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

22
Patti LaBelle is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Doo-wop, Girl group & Ballad; Nationality: United States of America

More Patti LaBelle 

#20 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #157 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame #505 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time

23
Aaliyah is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Genre: Hip hop music, Pop music & Neo soul; Nationality: United States of America

More Aaliyah 

The Best Songs Feat. Aaliyah #99 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #401 of 418 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

24
Minnie Riperton is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Kasir Radojica added Genre: Pop music, Rock music & Rhythm and blues; Nationality: United States of America

More Minnie Riperton 

#90 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #372 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time #150 of 200 Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely

25
Mahalia Jackson is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
Kasir Radojica added Genre: Gospel music; Nationality: United States of America

More Mahalia Jackson 

#116 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #429 of 1,043 The Best Singers of All Time #254 of 2,042 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time