World-famous African-American Women Singers

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black female singers

Black female singers – It’s possible that you were raised on the music of some of the most influential black women in music. The music business may suffer if it were to disappear.

These ladies can sing everything from blues to pop to jazz to funk to soul to R&B to rock to rumba and everything in between. If you want to know more about famous black female singers, then you are at the right place. 

Most of them have established themselves as successful musicians and vocalists. These artists have delighted audiences of all ages with chart-topping songs, albums, mixtapes, and collaborations. This list showcases the top 50 black female vocalists throughout history. Let’s discuss everything you should know about black female singers.

Iconic soul singer Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul” and iconic American singer, songwriter, and pianist, discovered her talent for singing early and signed with Columbia Records, where she had commercial success beginning in 1966.

With over 75 million recordings sold, she is among the most successful musicians ever. The songs “Call Me,” “Don’t Play That Song,” “Rock Steady,” and “Something He Can Feel” are all huge successes for her. 

Franklin was honoured with the National Medal of Arts and her 18 Grammy Awards. In addition to becoming the first female musician inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she also topped Rolling Stone’s list of the 200 Greatest Singers of All Time in 2022.

Whitney Houston

“The Voice” Whitney Houston was an American singer and actress and one of the best-selling music artists of all time, with over 200 million albums sold across the globe. From “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” to “Saving All My Love for You,” she has seven straight Billboard Hot 100 number-one hits to her credit. Keep reading to learn more about some famous black female singers

As a result of Houston’s impact on the world of popular music, Rolling Stone magazine placed her at number two on its 2023 list of the greatest singers of all time.

She was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and won several honours for her work, including six Grammys, two Emmys, and twenty-eight Guinness World Records. She is one of the top black female singers. 

Whitney Houston

Singer Mariah Carey

American singer Mariah Carey, whose five-octave vocal range and composition enabled her to generate chart-topping songs and albums in the 1990s, was named “Songbird Supreme” by Guinness World Records.

Carey’s crossover success is credited with influencing and inspiring many pop, R&B, and hip-hop musicians. She has sold over 220 million albums globally, making her one of the best-selling musicians ever.

Her songs “Fantasy,” “Always Be My Baby,” and “One Sweet Day” are all certified gold or platinum. Numerous black female singers acquired the limelight by releasing some hit songs. 

Singer Mariah Carey

Singing legend Ella Fitzgerald

American jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald has a successful career spanning sixty years, beginning with her work with the Chick Webb group. She was known as the “First Lady of Song,” “Lady Ella,” and “Queen of Jazz” because of how successful her singing career was. It Doesn’t Mean a Thing, Cheek to Cheek, and Dream a Little Dream of Me are just a few of her chart-topping singles.

She won 14 Grammys, the National Medal of Arts, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the NAACP’s first President’s Award. She landed on the list of black female singers due to some famous hit songs she released during her prime time. 

Singing legend Ella Fitzgerald

Performing artist Tina Turner

American singer Tina Turner, born Anna Mae Bullock, is often called the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll” due to her commanding presence onstage and iconic voice. She became well-known after being Ike & Tiner Turner Revenue’s main vocalist. Hits like “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” “Typical Male,” and “Better Be Good to Me” were produced during her successful solo career in the 1980s.

With over 100 million recordings sold globally, Tuner is one of the most successful musicians ever. She has won 12 Grammys, the Women of the Year Award, and the Kennedy Centre Honours in 2015. Tina Turner is correspondingly one of the best black female singers

black female singers

Bessie Smith

Smith, born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1894 and began her successful recording career with Columbia Records in 1923, was a well-known American blues singer who gained fame during the Jazz Age and was given the moniker “Empress of the Blues.” Her career was cut short when she was killed in a car accident in 1930.

She was the most well-known female blues singer of the 1930s and is widely considered to be among the best musicians of all time. Smith joined the ranks of Rock & Roll Hall of Famers in 1989. Bessie Smith became one of the top black female singers by releasing some old-school music. 

Bessie Smith

King Chaka

She is an American vocalist whose career spans more than five decades and is often called the “Queen of Funk.” She was born Yvette Maria Stevens. She found great success with the funk band Rufus and on her own. In addition to becoming one of the first R&B musicians to score a crossover success with I Feel for You, Khan has reportedly sold 70 million albums globally.

On the original list of the 100 Greatest Women in Rock and Roll compiled by VH1, she was placed at No. 17. She also earned three gold singles, three gold albums, and one platinum. King Chaka also falls under the category of famous black female singers. 

King Chaka

Diana Ross

American singer and actress Diana Ross first gained widespread attention as the group The Supremes’ frontwoman. With twelve number-one songs on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 (including Baby Love, Where Did Our Love Go, and Love Child), the group is undoubtedly one of the best-selling female groups of all time.

She began her successful solo career in the ’70s, and she proceeded to release hit records and set attendance records all around the globe. Aside from the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, she has won several other major honours for her many successful tracks, including Love Hangover, Touch Me in the Morning, and Theme from Mahogany. Keep reading to know more about the famous black female singers. 

Diana Ross

The Etta James

Etta James was an American singer whose career spanned six decades and included rock and roll, gospel, blues, R&B, jazz, and soul, among other styles. Starting in 1954, James became a successful performer thanks to songs like “Tell Mama,” “The Wallflower,” and “Something’s Got a Hold on Me.”

Her earthy, low voice closed the gap between rhythm, blues, and rock & roll. She was elected into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 and won six Grammy Awards over her illustrious career. This page has listed a number of black female singers that are extremely famous. 

black female singers

“Gladys Knight”

Gladys Knight is an American singer, actress, and composer often called the “Empress of Soul.” Her family band, Gladys Knight & the Pips had successes in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. That’s What Friends Are For and Midnight Train to Georgia were two of the first hits from her 1987 solo debut, which launched a very successful career.

In addition to being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame with the Pips, Knight has won other important honours, including seven Grammy honours.

"Gladys Knight"

Jackson, Janet

Janet Jackson, who was born into a working-class African-American family, got her start singing with the Jackson 5 in the Chicago/Gary region. Since then, she’s become one of the finest black female vocalists today.

The subsequent success of her third studio album, 1986’s Control, and fourth, 1989’s Rhythm Nation 1814, propelled her to a global pop star.

With over 100 million recordings sold, she is one of the most successful musicians in history. In addition to being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she has won five Grammys and set eight Guinness World Records.

black female singers

Rihanna

Barbadian singer Robyn Rihanna Fenty rose to prominence with the 2005 and 2006 releases of her studio albums Music of the Sun and A Girl Like Me, respectively. Good Girl Gone Bad, her third album, released in 2007, catapulted her to stardom. The album’s first track, “Umbrella,” became a crossover hit and won her her first Grammy.

Rihanna is one of the best-selling female musicians of all time, with over 250 million albums sold across the globe, thanks to her vast appeal. She has several interests outside of music, including her Fenty Beauty line and her Fenty fashion label.

Rihanna

Beyonce

Beyoncé is among the most influential black female vocalists today. She had already won many singing and dance contests by the time she was seven years old. Beyonce first gained widespread recognition in the late 1990s as a member of the groundbreaking R&B girl group Destiny’s Child.

She went on to have a very successful solo career after the trio broke up, with several platinum and gold albums, dozens of number-one singles, and dozens of major music prizes, including 32 Grammys, 31 BET prizes, and 17 Soul Train Music Awards.

Her songs “If I Were a Boy,” “Irreplaceable,” and “Single Ladies” are all huge successes. Beyoncé has racked up record sales of over 200 million copies.

Beyonce

The Alicia Keys

At the tender age of 12, Alicia Keys started writing her own tunes, and soon after, she was signed to the prestigious record label Arista. As I Am, The Diary of Alicia Keys and Song in A Minor are just a few available albums.

Key has had a successful career so far, with his first album, Songs in A Minor, being certified five times platinum and yielding many top ten hits and a Grammy Award. Keys is still active in the music production and acting worlds. She is one of the most talented black female singers.

Alicia Keys

Queen of Hip-Hop Soul Mary J. Blige

Blige is an American singer with tremendous success since she first released songs in 1988. Her first album, 1992’s What’s the 411, is widely regarded as the catalyst for the crossover of R&B and hip hop into the mainstream. Blige has had four albums debut at the top of the Billboard 200 chart over her career’s 14 studio album output

She’s been crowned the “Queen of R&B” and “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” several times for her incredible talent. She has received several honours for her musical contributions, including four AMAs, nine Grammys, and twelve NAACP Image Awards. Blige has not stopped being a phenomenal musical force.

Queen of Hip-Hop Soul Mary J. Blige

Jazz singer Billie Holiday.

Billie Holiday was a jazz and swing musician from the United States who significantly impacted both jazz and popular music. She was very popular in the 1930s and 1940s, and her performance in the 1950s was standing-room only. Carelessly, “God Bless the Child” and “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” are just a few of her many chart-topping singles.

She was elected into both the National Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame, and she earned four Grammy Awards throughout the course of her career. Several biopics, like 2021’s The United States vs. Billie Holiday, were released after her death.

Jazz singer Billie Holiday.

Adu Sade

Helen Folasade Adu is a British singer who was born in Nigeria. In 1986, she became the first Nigerian-born musician to win a Grammy. She has significantly impacted modern music and is considered one of the most successful British female performers of all time.

Sade was one of the most successful bands of the period after its formation in 1982, and its first album, Diamond Life, was the most successful debut album by a British female performer. Songs like “The Sweetest Taboo,” “Your Love Is King,” and “Never as Good as the First Time” were all created by Sade and her band and became huge successes.

In 2002, the United Kingdom honoured Sade for her musical contributions by awarding her the Officer of the Order of the British Empire; in 2017, she was promoted to the rank of Commander in honour of the Queen’s birthday.

Adu Sade

Donna Summer

Singer and composer Donna Summer (born LaDonna Adrian Gaines) was an African-American icon. The 1970s crowned her the disco diva. Summer won 5 Grammy honours out of a total of 13 nominations and several other music honours for her iconic singles “Love to Love You Baby” and “I Feel Love.” She also held sway over the Billboard Top 100 for an unprecedented period.

Donna Summer

Ms. Erykah Badu

Singer-songwriter-producer-actress Erykah Badu (born Erica Abi Wright) is a household name in the United States. After opening for D’Angelo in 1994, Badu received much attention and became recognised as the “Queen of Neo Soul.”

She has contributed platinum-selling singles, including “On & On,” “Appletree,” “Next Lifetime,” and “Otherside of the Game.” She has won several accolades for her singing, including an American Singing Award and a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.

Ms. Erykah Badu

Minnie Riperton

Singer and composer Minnie Riperton was born Minnie Julia Riperton Rudolph. She has the title of “Queen of the Whistle Register,” among other titles. Songs like “Lovin’ You” helped propel Riperton to stardom. Minnie, Love Forever, and her other songs have achieved international renown.

In her career, she has won two Grammys. Etta James, Fontella Bass, Ramsey Lewis, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, and Muddy Waters were just a few of the performers who praised her work. I also provided them with some background singing.

Minnie Riperton

Toni Braxton

Toni Michele Braxton is the stage name of the black American singer and songwriter {Toni Braxton. She has sold over 70 million albums, making her one of the best-selling female performers ever. Baxton’s C.D.s have consistently topped the charts for years. Secrets, the Heat, Libra, and many more are just a handful of her excellent albums.

She has been honoured with various awards during her career, including seven Grammys, nine Billboard Music Awards, seven American Music Awards, and many more.

Toni Braxton

Ms. Jill Scott

Black American singer, songwriter, poet, and actor Jill Scott (born Jill Heather Scott) made her first album debut in 2000s. Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Music CD. 1, which went platinum and catapulted her to international stardom. Scott’s subsequent albums helped solidify her gold status after the release of her self-titled debut. She has won many Grammys, MTV Music Awards, and Vibe Awards, among others.

Ms. Jill Scott

Norwood, Brandy

Singer, songwriter, and record producer Brandy Norwood was born Brandy Rayana Norwood. Brandy began her career as a backup singer for a teen band. In 1993, she released her self-titled first album.

She has a distinct voice, and albums like Never Say Never and Full Moon have made her famous. A Grammy and an American Music Award are just two of the numerous honours she’s garnered for her musical contributions.

Norwood, Brandy

“Jennifer Hudson”

Jennifer Kate Hudson, better known by her stage name Jennifer Hudson, is a multi-award-winning American singer, songwriter, and talk show presenter. Jennifer Hudson’s self-titled first album was released in 2008 and quickly went gold in the United States and the United Kingdom. She has won several accolades, including two Grammys, one Hollywood Music in Media Award, multiple BET Awards, and more.

black female singers

Nina Simone

Singer-songwriter-activist-pianist Nina Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in the United States. Because of her versatility, she was considered one of the finest vocalists of all time. The artist began her career as a pianist before adding vocals to her jazz performances.

Her first album, Little Girl Blue, came out in 1958. Numerous honours and trophies have been bestowed upon her during her career. She received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2000, and her music was nominated for four Grammys.

Ms. Patti LaBelle

Patricia Louise Holte, better known as Patti LaBelle, is a multitalented black American entertainer. After the breakup of her band, LaBelle embarked on a solo career, which ultimately proved to be quite fruitful for her. In 1977, Patti LaBelle released her self-titled first album, which catapulted her to stardom and established her as a major solo performer throughout the globe.

Patti Labelle has had a prolific recording career, releasing albums like Patti LaBelle (1977), I’m in Love Again (1983), Winner in You (1986), and many more to critical acclaim. The musician has been nominated for and has won several awards.

Ms. Patti LaBelle

Natalie Cole, 1956–2015

Nat King Cole’s daughter, Natalie Cole (born Natalie Maria Cole), was a famous vocalist and jazz pianist in her own right. In the middle of the ’70s, the American singer-songwriter and actress saw a meteoric ascent in fame. The R&B singer has had many successful singles, including “This Will Be” (1973), “Inseparable” (1975), “Our Love” (1977), and others.

She spent a long time in the R&B genre, but in 1987, she released an album called Everlasting, marking her return to pop music. She has earned seven Grammys out of a total of twenty-one nominations, and she has also been honoured by the American Music Awards, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Society of Singers, and others.

Natalie Cole

“Mahalia Jackson”

Gospel singer Mahala Jackson (later shortened to Mahalia) was one of the most prominent figures of the 20s. During her heyday, the singer sold over 22 million albums and played to audiences all across the globe at a wide range of locations. She has won three Grammys and is noted for her renditions of such classics as “God Will Separate the Wheat From the Tares,” “Oh My Lord,” “Walking to Jerusalem,” and many more.

"Mahalia Jackson"

Ms. Tracey Chapman

Black American singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman got her musical beginnings at a young age. After moving to Elecktra, Tracy Chapman published her first album, which received widespread acclaim.

The record was so successful that the RIAA awarded her six times Platinum status. Songs like “Fast Car” and “Give Me One Reason” are among Chapman’s most well-known works.

The singer/songwriter has been honoured with many prestigious honours, including the BRIT Award, the Danish Music Award, and the Billboard Music Award.

Ms. Tracey Chapman

Sarah Vaughan

Jazz singer and composer Sarah Vaughan (born Sarah Lois Vaughan) is a household name in the United States. She developed a passion for music from a young age, which led to her being called names like “Sassy” and “The Divine One.”

Her career has taken several turns, but 1945 she started performing professionally. The vocalist is a multiple-award winner, including four Grammys. She has recorded songs like “Close to You” and “I Love Brazil!” during her career—all that and more in the City of Lights.

Sarah Vaughan

Ashanti

American singer and composer Ashanti, whose given name is Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas. She began performing as a singer at a young age. Her 2002 first album, titled “Ashanti,” sold over 505,000 copies in the United States.

The same album that earned her so many accolades also shattered all of her previous sales records. Many of her studio albums have been popular, including Ashanti (2002), Chapter II (2003), Ashanti’s Christmas (2003), Concrete Rose (2004), and many more.

Ma Rainey!

Blues musician Ma Rainey, named Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, was an American singer and songwriter. The prodigy of Blues music, who recorded her debut song in 1923, was also known as the “Mother of the Blues.”

And then he went on to make over a hundred albums, including such classics as “Bo-Weevil Blues” (1923), “Moonshine Blues” (1923), “See See Rider Blues” (1925), “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (1927), and many more. Due to the high bar set by the Blues genre, Rainey has inspired a wide range of musicians and vocalists.

black female singers

Kandi Burruss

Black American producer, T.V. host, singer, songwriter, actor, and model Kandi Burruss (born Kandi Lenice Burruss Tucker). She rose to fame as a member of the all-female band Xscape. Kandi’s career-defining productions and songwriting came after the breakup of Xscape.

Her first album, titled “Hey Kandi,” was released in 2000, and it spawned the hits “Don’t Think I’m Not,” “Cheatin’ on Me,” and “Don’t Think I’m Not.” After releasing only three studio albums, the multitalented artist enjoyed a fruitful career in television.

Nicki Minaj

American rapper, singer, and songwriter Nicki Minaj was born Onika Tanya Maraj-Petty in Trinidad. Famous for her controversial stances, provocative outfits, and catchy tunes, Minaj has quickly risen to the top of the music business. In 2010, she released her first album, Pink Friday, quickly establishing her as a formidable new talent.

The album reached the top spot on many U.S. charts. This is the Billboard 200. The album’s fifth song, “Super Bass,” debuted at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100—#1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and the album received a diamond award from the Recording Industry Association of America. Additionally, in 2018, she released an album titled Queen. She is one of the famous black women who has a ranking on Billboard with just a few songs. 

Kelly Rowland.

Singer, actress, and television host Kelly Rowland was born Kelendria Trene Rowland. While a member of the mega-selling girl group Destiny’s Child in the ’90s, Rowland found success with her solo debut, 2002’s Simply Deep, which debuted at No. 1 on the U.K. Albums Chart and has since sold over 3 million copies worldwide. Rowland’s “Dilemma,” “Stole,” and “Can’t Nobody” are three of her most well-known tracks.

Iko Jhene

Black American singer-songwriter and musician Jhene Aiko (born Jhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo). Her R&B sound and status as a member of the boy band B2K made her a household name. She is not connected to B2K member Lil’ Fizz despite widespread advertising to that effect. In 2003, Aiko was able to release her self-titled first album.

However, she stopped for a while to further her studies. Her comeback album, “Sailing Soul(s),” was released in 2011, and she has since released several singles and further studio efforts. Souled Out (2014), Trip (2017), and Chilombo (2020) are her three released studio albums to date.

It’s Tionne Watkins

Tionne Watkins, a black female singer and entertainer, is also included. She’s a famous American singer and actress better known by her stage name, T-Boz. In the 1990s, while she was a member of TLC, she began to achieve popularity. Later, she began releasing just her own solo work.

She has released many solo singles and has been featured on the recordings of many other famous musicians. Watkins has a large fan following thanks in part to her flexibility since she has starred in a wide variety of T.V. episodes and series. She acquired the spotlight as a hardcore and talented black musician. 

Summary!

The above-listed portion has mentioned some of the best black female singers who acquired the limelight due to their dazzling hit songs. The genre of every famous female singers is different, but most of them release hardcore hip-hop tracks.

FAQs

What well-known black female singers are there?

Beyoncé and Tina Turner are included if you seek sing-along pop hits. You may choose something more traditional, like Celia Cruz’s Afro-Cuban dance classics or Sister Nancy’s reggae/dancehall hits. There is a wealth of unheard and undiscovered talent among black women.

Who was the first black female singer?

Women gradually faded from view as male-dominated country blues became more mainstream. However, nearly 30 years later, during the blues resurgence, Mamie Smith recorded the first blues song by a black female singer.

What pioneering female soul performer came first?

It’s Mary Wells. Mary Wells, the “Queen of Motown” and one of the first women to become a soul music celebrity, had the number one song of the 1960s with “My Guy” and was widely considered to be the label’s namesake. Her career suffered once she left Motown, but her struggle for creative independence was recognised.