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The Greatest Black Female Singers

Updated September 3, 2020 58.8k votes 8.0k voters 434.0k views126 items

List RulesVote 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.

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  • 1
    Whitney Houston is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
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    Whitney Houston

    Pop music, Dance-pop

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 2
    Aretha Franklin is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    1,803
    663

    Aretha Franklin

    Pop music, Rock music

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 3
    Ella Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    1,308
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    Ella Fitzgerald

    Ballad, Swing music

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 4
    Gladys Knight is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
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    325

    Gladys Knight

    Rhythm and blues, Soul music

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 5
    Etta James is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    862
    299

    Etta James

    Rock music, Rhythm and blues

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 6
    Tina Turner is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    1,111
    506

    Tina Turner

    Rock music, Dance-pop

    NationalitySwitzerland, United States of America

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  • 7
    Billie Holiday is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    872
    388

    Billie Holiday

    Torch song, Ballad

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 8
    Minnie Riperton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    537
    178

    Minnie Riperton

    Pop music, Rock music

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 9
    Toni Braxton is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    751
    347

    Toni Braxton

    Hip hop music, Adult contemporary music

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 10
    Brandy Norwood is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    713
    307

    Brandy Norwood

    Hip hop music, Pop music

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 11
    Diana Ross is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    856
    419

    Diana Ross

    Disco, Pop music

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 12
    Jennifer Hudson is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    586
    185

    Jennifer Hudson

    Pop music, Contemporary R&B

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 13
    Nina Simone is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    895
    459

    Nina Simone

    Folk music, Rhythm and blues

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 14
    India.Arie is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    378
    147

    India.Arie

    Pop music, Neo soul

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 15
    Jill Scott is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    389
    129

    Jill Scott

    Spoken Word Soul, Neo soul

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 16
    Mariah Carey is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
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    493

    Mariah Carey

    Pop, Contemporary R&B

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 17
    Alicia Keys is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    836
    480

    Alicia Keys

    Hip hop music, Pop music

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 18
    Lauryn Hill is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
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    359

    Lauryn Hill

    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 19
    Anita Baker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    700
    322

    Anita Baker

    Adult contemporary music, Quiet storm

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 20
    Lena Horne is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    241
    54

    Lena Horne

    Pop music, Traditional pop music

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 21
    Patti LaBelle is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    738
    335

    Patti LaBelle

    Doo-wop, Girl group

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 22
    CeCe Winans is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    315
    117

    CeCe Winans

    Pop music, Hymn

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 23
    Sade Adu is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    757
    444
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  • 24
    Fantasia is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    368
    143

    Fantasia

    Christian music, Pop music

    NationalityUnited States of America

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  • 25
    Natalie Cole is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Black Female Singers
    474
    267

    Natalie Cole

    Adult contemporary music, Pop music

    NationalityUnited States of America

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