The Undeniable Top 12 Best Black Female Singers of All Time?

by Kevin Ross - Posted Monday, January 30th, 2012. Category: Top 10 Features

http://www.radiofacts.com/the-undeniable-top-12-best-black-female-singers-of-all-time/

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88 comments

  1. Emily Mascarenhas-Bennett

    Most of those women didn’t write songs in the 1960s. If they did, those BMI Writers and Publishers checks would be nuts today.

    You should add soul/disco singer Loleatta Holloway. Her voice was crazy.

  2. Tonya Gipson

    Jennifer Lopez is not Black and I can’t believe you could compile a list like this and not include Nina Simone. Have you lost your mind?

  3. Mike

    Aretha wrote many songs and some of her own hits..”Think”, “Day Dreaming”, “Rock Steady”, “Since You Been Gone”, all sold well over a million copies each plus she wrote “Call Me” and “Dr. Feelgood”..

  4. Lynn

    I think Jennifer Hudson and Oleta Adams belong on that list somewhere, although I can’t deny that for the most part it’s a pretty good lineup.

  5. Andre Michael Eggelletion

    Great list… much respect to the wonderful singers you’ve listed; I just have to add a few you have overlooked: Ella Fitzgerald (the best female vocalist I’ve ever heard), Billie Holliday, and Sarah Vaughn. Not to mention Lena Horne, Shirley Bassey, Joesphine Baker, Dorothy Dandridge, Ethel Waters, Mahalia Jackson, and Pearl Bailey.

  6. mario

    this list is incomplete to me if Anita fuckin Baker aint on it re you crazy!!!!!!!!!! minnie ripperton, kim burrell, Sade, Shirley murdock definitely deserve honorable mentions and teena marie might be white but she aint no punk

  7. Tammy Hurt

    Who complied this list? I understand you wish to pay homage to a few legends, where is Mahalia Jackson or Tina Turner if that’s what you’re doing? I read a few comments about those writing their own material….I don’t think that’s what the writer is trying to convey because ‘singer’ is the key word! Are you considering record sales? If so, then Beyonce should be on there (even tho I don’t think she’s a contender but she has paid her dues)! Also HOW IN THE WORLD could you not include Lisa Fisher, Minni Ripperton, Angela Bofill and Heather Headly? When you say undeniable you mean undisputed or incapable of being denied…correct? Well I can dispute a few of your choices. When I think of a black female that sing….I think quality!

  8. Jan

    Angela Winbush, Angela Bofill, Randy Crawford, Sharon Bryant from Atlantic Starr. I never thought of Jennifer Lopez as a singer nor as blaci

  9. Bo

    What happened to Anita Baker, Stephanie Mills, Sade, Minnie Ripperton and Ella Fitzgerald should be in the top three. Its obvious the compiler of this list do not really pay attention to black female artist,,,,,Jennifer Lopez, why not Bonnie Raitt also.

  10. Leilani

    How could you leave the legendary Toni Braxton off the list I mean come on! I’m also shocked that Anita Baker was ignored as well SMH!

  11. Phat Man

    I get the Jennifer Lopez joke. I immediately knew something was wrong when I saw her name (LOL). I’ve read some of the suggestions that others have entered above and have to admit that many were good singers, but we are talking about the greatest of all time here, so being good is not good enough for this list. Here are some glaring omissions from your list. Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn raised the standard from everyone that preceded them, and set the standard for everyone that followed them. Dinah Washington is simply the most versatile singer ever (black, white, male or female). Check out some of her music and I’m sure you will agree. She could sing anything. Stephanie Mills would run several of your “top 12″ off the stage. She would definitely be in any top 10 list I came up with. And While I’m not sure she would make my top 10 list (definitely my top 20), I would also have to mention Teena Marie. Now I know y’all will say she’s white, but she truely loved and fully embraced our culture and gave us some of the most soulful music of a generation. Because of this, many whites dispised her and refuse to give her her props. In many ways Teena was one of us, so i feel she deserves honorable mention.

  12. Phat Man

    Ok, so I thought about this some more and realized that I forgot some others that definitely deserve consideration. Lauren Hill as both a singer and a songwriter needs to be atleast considered for any such list; maybe the top 20? Maysa Leak is in my opinion the greatest singer on the planet right now, she just can’t seem to get any airplay on these highly restrictive radio formats we have now. Adreana Evans, the best singer you probably have not heard of. She has the voice of an angel; seriously. I agree with the person who mentioned Angela Winbush. Also Angela Bofill. My gosh, how could I have forgotten ROBERTA FLACK? Definitely a top 10 consideration!!

  13. RonRahn

    In my book Phyllis Hyman should be # one. And I have a newly found love for Melba Moore she the Queen of dance funk and should have been placed some where below 7 on the list

  14. Sandi

    You must be kidding! Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McRae, Billy Holiday, Dakota Staton, Ella Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith, Nancy Wilson, Mahalia Jackson, Marion Anderson, Leontine Price, Shirley Bassey, Della Reese , Deniece Williams, Minnie Riperton and many more set the standard for all the singers on your ill conceived list. Many of the women I have listed are not simply among the best ” Black” female voices, but rather among the best voices of all time. Your list might be better labelled some of the top voices in the last 25 years, but it would still be lacking!

  15. Cat

    Im not understanding why Jennifer Lopez is on this list not only is she not black she also is not one of the greatest singers, what about Minnie Riperton, Anita Baker,Sade Denise Williams and if you are going to stray from blacks you most definitely could not leave out that blue eyed soul sister Teena Marie.

  16. Rob

    Anita Baker, Sade, Toni Braxton, Angela Winbush, Regina Belle, Stephanie Mills, Shirley Murdock. They should be on this list

  17. Quent

    UNDENIABLE? ARE U KIDDING ME? I can agree with maybe half. Maybe! But what about Minnie Ripperton; Sarah Vaughn; Billy Holiday; Tamia;

  18. Pingback: The Undeniable Top 12 Best Black Female Singers of All-Time | 106.7 WTLC

  19. Sule

    First who is Rachelle Ferrell? and what does she do for a living?

    Have you ever heard of Ella, Nancy, Billie, Sarah, Carmen, Sade, Mahalia, Marion Anderson or Leontine. You must live in cave and are to stupid to read your own Headline…undeniable, Black, of all time. Lopez? you must be related to here or something

  20. Frances

    I totally agree with Sule. Where the hell is Ella, Sarah and Billie. In a list of the “best Black singers” of all time – how could they be missing??!! Someone didn’t do their homework.

  21. Eileen

    Oh yes, there is work to be done. As a classical trained vocalist, Black, and an ethnomusicologist, from the readings I have taken off the internet, it is time something is done about the lack of information. My work is to not only pay tribute to the Black singer but make sure that the “sound” they have created and is much emulated by almost every culture on the planet is preserved for all time and that the world knows (what some take for granted) who were the originators, and how it has impacted American music and culture, and is still a major force in the world today. Stay tuned, because I can prove it.

  22. No one has mentioned Leona Horn, Candi Staton, Dorothy Moore, Jill Scott, but Jennifer Lopez. You could’ve use Seline Deon, not to mention those great that never got their reconition.

    I like to know who took the pole for the votes. Whom ever it was they was certainly off point with J -Lo .

  23. Alright KEVIN………… who did yo’ pickn?? How can you put Etta James, Dionne Warwick and Gladys OVER Anita Baker! Beyonce! Mahalia Jackson! AND BILLIE HOLIDAY? REALLY KEVIN? REALLY? I love you, too, my brother!! :) I’m ready to re-do this list whenever you’re ready…… :)

  24. Noor

    This is not to take away from any of the names listed, but it is just not possible to do this sort of list without acknowledging Diana Ross.
    Are you mad? Lopez? Really?

  25. MC ³

    What an empty and pathetic list this is!! If the great and glorious Mahalia Jackson is going to be snubbed, then this whole list is garbage. Yeah, she may have been a gospel singer, but that shouldn’t ostracize her from being at the top of this list. If she would have broken her integrity, she would’ve buried every one of these singers. How DARE you try to bury her because of her integrity!!

  26. ANDRE WILKINS

    WHEN IT COMES TO MUSIC, I MUST ADMIT THE 70′S TO THE EARLY 90′S IS WHERE THE REAL R&B WAS. NOT LIKE TODAY THIS MUSIC THEY CONSIDER R&B IS NOT R&B IT’S RHYTHIMIC SOUL…..I SAY THE BEST THAT EVER DID IT..PHYLLIS HYMAN, PATTIE LABELLE, STEPHANIE MILLS, MELBA MOORE…POWERFULL LADIES!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Darryl Ennis

    i have a problem with this… where is Nancy Wilson? i seen dionne, phyllis, natalie, even etta… WHERE IS NANCY WILSON IN THIS 12? THIS SHOULD BE REDONE OVER!

  28. Darryl Ennis

    NANCY WILSON HAS BEEN RECORDING SINCE 1960. EVEN THOUGH, SHE IS RETIRED NOW, YOU SHOULD GIVE HER DUE! SHE DESERVES IT!

  29. Kirk Abernathy

    Minnie and Phyllis should be a lot closer to #1 (although maybe they are not in a particular order?) . And no mention of Deniece Williams or Angela Bofill???!! Angela winbush is also one of the very best and wait!!! Jean Carn should absolutely be on that list. If you go see her live (even today) you’ll know why. She could go toe to toe with ANY of those mentioned.

  30. SouthernGirl59

    J.Lo?????? I had no idea she was BLACK!!!! Really? Does she know she is black? You left out JEAN CARNE and REGINA BELLE!

  31. tony smith

    This list is STUPID. Sarah, Ella, Nancy not on the list = invalid list. And Dionne — she’s good but seriously? Same with Natalie. I’d replace those two easily.

  32. With my music experience, along with being involved in the music industry and extensive record collection, my top 12 would be much different from this. I have already started compiling a list of the greatest 300 black women vocalists. My list is based totally on skills and range. Nothing to do with sales or popularity. The #1 spots should have gone to either Minnie Riperton or Ella Fitzgerald. Their vocal skills are simply unmatched.

    That singer from here in Houston, that’s ‘married’ to the rapper, is not even in my top 5,000. Wait! She’s not on my list at all. [maniacal laughing] I just stumbled across this, looking for something else.

  33. Carrie

    Yeah, J-Lo was a mistake here. She’s Puerto Rican and many PRs are of a wide array of races and mixed race, so I checked out her parents to be sure and they don’t look mixed or black. However, I don’t know her family descent so I can’t say. Plus, you can’t assume that just because someone is Latino/a that they aren’t black. We can be both. My issue is that she isn’t that great of a singer in my opinion. Not to say she isn’t good, her talent just isn’t comparable to the other singers on the list. So it’s a mistake. I would prefer to see Tina Turner on the list. There are others that could also be on the list, but it’s 12, so everybody can’t be on the list.

  34. John

    The Person who should be included on this list is LINDA JONES She sang (Hypnotized … and Not On The Outside) This lady had the best vocal control of any woman . Listen to these songs on Youtube and then tell me who can match her voice. …NO ONE .

  35. jonscott williams

    Hard to take a list like this seriously when you leave out Ella Fitzgerald, Lady Day, Nina Simone, Lena Horn, Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McRea, Dinah Washington, Nancy Wilson while including Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez (no offense but WTF!?!?)

  36. missy

    Haha…just because Jennifer Lopez thinks she’s black doesn’t make her black.
    Haha…just because Jennifer Lopez thinks she can sing doesn’t mean she can sing.
    Haha…just because Jennifer Lopez sang a few half-assed songs in the last decade doesn’t mean she is an “undeniable top female singer of all time.”

    Whoever created was either joking, confused, or stupid…I’m gonna go with the latter. The fact that “All-Time” is hyphenated in the title speaks volumes to this person’s intelligence and education. Haha

  37. Pamela

    I agree with John. Linda Jones was one of the best singers ever!! She definitely should be on any list of best or favorite African American female singers.

  38. Jayjay6

    This list is a joke, right?
    I realize that these things are subjective, but no Ella, no Sarah, no Billie? And that’s just for starters. The only one on your list that even comes close is Natalie.
    The person who put the list together must be about 25 years old. S/he needs to listen to music frome the true greats.

  39. Dan

    Sade? Really? I wouldn’t even call what she does singing. And while I like Natalie I don’t think her body of work earns her a place on a list like this.
    And how does a list of the top 12 black female singers of all time not include Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holliday?

  40. Devin

    So very true! I think he HAS lost his mind.Even if Lopez WERE Black … she can’t sing her way out of a paper bag. Why don’t you add Britney Spears to the list … maybe SHE’S Black and maybe she can sing too. That makes about as much sense as J-Lo.

  41. Angie-Gaye

    Thx for that comment! Mahalia Jackson is the Empress of Soul and one of the greatest voices (male or female) that EVER lived.
    Gospel aside, have any of you listened to that voice. While GOD on high was busy running the Universe, he heard Mahalia’s singing and said “Stop everything, I hear my child’s voice and I cannot turn away”. That’s how bad Mahalia Jackson was.

  42. Anonymous

    I am really late to this party, but have thought about and debated this topic for years. These are all great vocalists but some do not belong in the top 12, i.e. Anita Baker and Dionne Warwick. If we are talking about pure vocals then you need to add Diana Ross, Stephanie Mills, Yolanda Adams, Nancy Wilson and CeCe Winans. I’m just saying…. By the way, Gladys Knight is my QOS!!!

  43. Anonymous

    Not sure if others have mentioned these women, but please consider Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Dinah Washington, Ethel Waters, Betty Carter, and Sarah Vaughn from a more jazzy/soul background,

    Marion Anderson, Leontyne Price, and Kathleen Battle from the classical world,

    Jennifer Holiday, Melba Moore, and as of late Shirley Murdock from a musical theater background,

    and Shirley Caesar, Kim Burrell, Yolanda Adams, Ce-Ce Winans, or any of the Clark Sisters from a more Gospel perspective if you want your list of black female vocalists to have credibility.

    We’re talking about vocal ability and mastery of vocal craft as a songstress right?

    Several on the list do belong, but many would fall off of a top 12-15 list if we’re being comprehensive about sistas with a special gift!

  44. Allen DeWane Harris

    Teena Marie should be on the list! Don’t discriminate because she was white. She sang Soul/ R&B Music better than most black female singers ever did!

  45. got2befree

    Can’t miss Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Ross, Roberta Flack, or Phoebe Snow. Toni Braxton, Stephanie Mills, Vanessa Williams, Janet Jackson and Jody Watley would all make the top 20.

    • Jahleel King

      Janet Jackson and Jody Watley should not be on anyone’s best singer list except for maybe Helen Keller’s, who was deaf.

    • Frank T. Lofaro Jr.

      Stephanie Mills is the by far the best of all. Not just out of Black female singers, but she is the best singer in all of history. And she still performs! She’s fabulous!

  46. Arturo Nunez

    You should have high on your list the great ladies Dinah Washington and Nancy Wilson. Perhaps they were not of your time ( although you included Billie Holiday) but these two singers are undisputed giants of female vocalist across color lines.

  47. donnalibra

    Glad to see Billie Holiday and Mahalia Jackson weren’t omitted. But how could this list not include Jennifer Holliday?! Her (not Jennifer Hudson’s) rendition of “And I’m Telling You” is the most unbelievable vocal performance EVER recorded. (Go to Youtube for the Dreamgirls performance version, if you don’t believe me). Nobody, and I mean nobody, has ever sang a song the way she sang that one.
    Also omitted is Loleatta Holloway. Although she might not be as well known as the others and might have been dismissed as a mere disco singer, she could really blow. Just listen to how she ends the line “known as a ladies man” on “Hit and Run”.

    • Allen DeWane Harris

      YES I agree! Everybody should go to Youtube to see Jennifer Holliday’s unbelievable vocal performance of “And I’m Telling You.” It is definitely “an original” that Jennifer Hudson can’t touch.

  48. charmaine pearson

    I love Aretha Franklin I think she has a voice that was heaven made and in my opinion no has been able to match or beat the past 45 years.She carried herself with grace and black dignity and she never let drugs or alcohol mar her life. She has been a tremendous role model for Black people of all ages. Thank you Aretha

  49. JB

    Great list but we should all feel ashamed because we are missing WHITNEY HOUSTON! She can easily make the discussion of the top five most influential,soulful and touching voices of all time. This is a travesty not to see her name even mentioned here. Best national anthem ever and “I will always love you” seemed like she had the voice of an angel. Rip Whitney. We will always love you.

  50. Liberal_Party_USA

    Just a novice WASP here, I am enamered over Arlene Smith lead for the Chantels. She performed Gregorian Chants in Carnegie Hall when 12 years old. “Maybe” brings goose bumps along with “Look in my eyes”. I sure hope she is in the top 20 of your list.

  51. Jimmie

    Donna Summer should have been on this list. She’s, probably, the most versatile female vocalist out of the ones that did make the list. She also, probably, conquered more genres as well. But, of course, any list is a matter of personal opinion. Donna Summer would, indeed, be on my personal list.

  52. Allen DeWane Harris

    Diana Ross has even said herself that she wasn’t a great singer. But Diana is definitely one of the best black female star entertainers of all time. She has a stage presence and “star” quality that melts fans hearts as soon as she walks on stage BEFORE she ever sings a note. A great actress and stage performer she is an all around entertainer. That is different than being a great singer. She would make my top five if this list was the “Top Black Diva Stars of All Time.”

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