50 best black female singers of all time you should know about

50 best black female singers of all time you should know about

They say music is food for the soul, and that is why the best singers are known worldwide due to their powerful lyrics and soothing vocals. Many singers have stood out in the music industry, including black female singers who have performed excellently over the years. Their songs are timeless, and they have received numerous accolades for their singing talents.

Black female singers
Singers Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys, and Whitney Houston. Photo: @arethfranklin, @aliciakeys, @whitneyhouston on Instagram (modified by author)
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Black female singers have made immense contributions to the music industry's development. They have distinguished themselves as some of the best composers and vocalists and have shown a deep connection with their fans.

Black female singers of all time

Who are the top black female singers worldwide? The singers have shown the world their singing prowess and, as a result, have gained immense fame. Here are the 50 best female songstresses worth recognising.

Ella Fitzgerald

Black female singers
American jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald performing in Copenhagen, Denmark, 1961. Photo: Lennart Steen
Source: UGC

The late Ella Fitzgerald was also called the First Lady of Song. She released over 40 studio albums and was a 13-time Grammy Award winner. Her best songs include Cheek to Cheek, It’s a Lovely Day Today, and It Don’t Mean a Thing.

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Billie Holiday

Best black female singers
Singer Billie Holiday records her penultimate album 'Lady in Satin' at the Columbia Records studio in New York City, New York. Photo: Don Hunstein
Source: Getty Images

Billie Holiday was one of the best black female music artists. She was a jazz singer and released about 12 studio albums with several songs. Some of her famous songs are Lady in Satin, Body and Soul, and All or Nothing At All.

Etta James

Best black female singers of all time
Etta James, U.S. blues and jazz singer, on stage during a live concert performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland. Photo: Andrew Putler
Source: Getty Images

Her real name was Jamesetta Hawkins, and she was a three-time Grammy Award winner. Etta sang different genres, such as blues, jazz, R&B, and soul and had approximately 30 albums. Her songs include At Last, Stormy Weather, and Tell Mama.

Aretha Franklin

Black female music artists
American soul singer Aretha Franklin (1942-2018) performs live on stage at the New Victoria Theatre in London. Photo: David Redfern
Source: Getty Images

Aretha was referred to as the Queen of Soul. She won 18 Grammy Awards and was named twice as the greatest singer of all time by Rolling Stones. Her best hits include A Natural Woman, Chain of Fools, and Ever Changing Times.

Diana Ross

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Top black female singers
Diana Ross performs on the Pyramid stage during day five of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, Pilton, in Glastonbury, England. Photo: Jim Dyson
Source: Getty Images

Diana was the lead singer of the music group The Supremes. She released 25 studio albums and approximately 105 singles throughout her singing career. Her notable songs include Upside Down, I’m Coming Out, Endless Love and Love Hangover.

Mariah Carey

Popular black female singers
Mariah Carey performs onstage during her "Merry Christmas To All!" at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Photo: Kevin Mazur
Source: Getty Images

She is a renowned singer and songwriter and is referred to as Songbird Supreme by Guinness World Records. She is recognised for her five-octave vocal range, melismatic singing style and use of the whistle register. Mariah has won five Grammy Awards and has 15 studio albums and numerous songs.

Donna Summer

Famous black female musicians
Donna Summer in concert at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Joan Adlen
Source: Getty Images

She was also known as the Queen of Disco. Her singing career peaked in the 1970s, and she released 17 studio albums with several songs. Her best songs are Last Dance, Hot Stuff, I Feel Love and On the Radio.

Tina Turner

Black female singers today
American R&B and Pop singer Tina Turner performs onstage at the World Music Theater, Tinley Park, Illinois. Photo: Paul Natkin
Source: Getty Images

Tina was nicknamed the Queen of Rock n Roll. She was a singer and songwriter famous for Simply The Best, What’s Love Got to Do with It, and Proud Mary. She won eight Grammy Awards.

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Mary J. Blige

Black female singers
Mary J. Blige performs during the 2023 Strength Of A Woman Festival & Summit - Mary J. Blige Concert at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Prince Williams
Source: Getty Images

Mary J. Blige is sometimes referred to as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul. She has won multiple awards in the music industry, including nine Grammy Awards, a Primetime Emmy, and four American Music Awards. Her songs include Family Affair, Just Fine, Real Love, and Everything.

Beyoncé

Best black female singers
Beyoncé performs onstage during the “RENAISSANCE WORLD TOUR” at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, England. Photo: Kevin Mazur
Source: Getty Images

Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter is considered one of the best black female singers today. She gained prominence in the music industry in the 1990s as the lead singer of the girl group Destiny’s Child. Beyonce has 32 Grammy Awards, among other coveted music awards. Her notable songs include Beautiful Liar, Single Ladies, and Crazy in Love.

Big Mama Thornton

Best black female singers of all time
Big Mama Thornton performing at a concert. Photo: Michael Ochs
Source: Getty Images

Willie Mae Thornton, professionally known as Big Mama Thornton, was a songbird who sang R&B and blues. Besides singing, she was a drummer and harmonica player. Her songs include Hound Dog, Ball and Chain, Let’s Go Get Stoned, and My Man Called Me.

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Lauryn Hill

Black female music artists
Lauryn Hill performs during night 1 of the 2023 Essence Festival of Culture at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo: Aaron J. Thornton
Source: Getty Images

Lauryn is a singer, songwriter, and rapper considered one of the greatest in history. She started singing at 13 and has so far released approximately 11 singles. She is an eight-time Grammy Award winner. She is known for Ready or Not, Ex-Factor, and Turn Your Lights Down Low.

Roberta Flack

Top black female singers
Roberta Flack attends the Pre-GRAMMY Gala and GRAMMY Salute to Industry Icons Honoring Sean "Diddy" Combs at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. Photo: Axelle
Source: Getty Images

Even though she has retired from singing, she was once a big name in the music industry. Roberta released several singles, including The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and Where Is the Love, that topped Billboard charts. She is a four-time Grammy Award winner.

Patti LaBelle

Popular black female singers
Singer Patti LaBelle performs in concert at Stockbridge Amphitheater in Stockbridge, Georgia. Photo: Paras Griffin
Source: Getty Images

Patricia Louise Holt is an actress and R&B singer recognised for songs such as On My Own, If You Only Knew, and New Attitude. Some music enthusiasts refer to her as the Grandmother of Soul. She has won the Grammy Awards twice.

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Bessie Smith

She earned the nickname Empress of the Blues among her fans. Her peak music career was during the 1930s. She worked alongside top musicians such as Joe Smith and Charlie Green. She won multiple Grammy Hall of Fame Awards.

Janet Jackson

Famous black female musicians
Janet Jackson speaks onstage during the 37th Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Kevin Mazur
Source: Getty Images

Janet is a singer, songwriter, and dancer. She has been in the music industry since 1974 and boasts multiple music albums with several songs, including Call on Me, Scream, Come On Get Up and Together Again. She has various music awards, including five Grammy Awards and 11 American Music Awards.

Natalie Cole

Black female singers today
American singer Natalie Cole performs in concert during the "Veranos de la Villa" music festival at Puerta del Angel stage in Madrid, Spain. Photo: Carlos R. Alvarez
Source: Getty Images

The songstress was born into a family of singers and began singing at a young age. She gained prominence in the 1970s after releasing her first album, Inseparable. Her other music albums are Thankful, Stardust, and Everlasting. She won nine Grammy Awards.

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Toni Braxton

Black female singers
Toni Braxton at the podium during the Grit Before The Gram returns for the 65th Annual Grammy Awards at The West Hollywood EDITION in West Hollywood, California. Photo: Unique Nicole
Source: Getty Images

Toni Braxton is one of the most famous black female musicians. She has powerful vocals and a soft, soothing tone that has captivated her fans. The seven-time Grammy Award winner has been in the music industry since the 1980s. Her hits include Spanish Guitar, Breath Again, and He Wasn’t Man Enough.

Alicia Keys

Best black female singers
Alicia Keys performs onstage during Keys To The Summer Tour at Barclays Center in New York City. Photo: Theo Wargo
Source: Getty Images

Alicia Augello Cook's music journey began when she was 12. She started composing songs and was signed to a record label at 15. She is an R&B superstar known for songs such as My Boo, If I Ain’t Got You, Girl on Fire, and It’s On Again. She has several music awards, including 15 Grammy Awards.

Ma Rainey

She was nicknamed Mother of the Blues during her music career peak. She started singing as a teenager and later turned professional in 1923. She also collaborated with artists such as Thomas Dorsey and Tampa Red.

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Anita Baker

Best black female singers of all time
Anita Baker performs the National Anthem before the game between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Las Vegas Aces at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Mike Kirschbaum
Source: Getty Images

Anita Denis Baker commenced her singing career in the 1970s and was part of the funk band Chapter 8. She released her debut album, The Songtress, in 1983. Her famous songs include Sweet Love, No One in the World, Body and Soul, and Just Because. She has eight Grammy Awards.

Minnie Riperton

Best black female singers of all time
Singer Minnie Riperton performs onstage at the Ivanhoe Theater in Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Paul Natkin
Source: Getty Images

Riperton was famous for her song Lovin’ You, released in 1975. She has a distinguished five-octave vocal range and whistle register. Her other popular songs are Memory Lane, Inside My Love, and Here We Go.

Dinah Washington

Black female music artists
Jazz singer Dinah Washington sings at a church service the weekend of the American Jazz Festival in Newport, Rhode Island. Photo: Michael Ochs
Source: Getty Images

Dinah was a jazz vocalist and pianist. She performed different genres of music, including R&B and pop. Her career peaked in the 1950s, and she released many tracks, such as This Bitter Earth, Teach Me Tonight, and Let the Music Play. She won a Grammy Award in 1959.

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Grace Jones

Top black female singers
Jamaican-born Disco singer, model, and actress Grace Jones as she poses backstage at the Tunnel nightclub, New York, New York. Photo: Gary Gershoff
Source: Getty Images

Grace is an African-American model, actress, and singer. She commenced her musical career in 1977 and recorded several songs with different recording labels in New York. Her songs include Demolition Man and Private Life.

Gladys Knight

Popular black female singers
Gladys Knight performs on stage at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood in Hollywood, Florida. Photo: Johnny Louis
Source: Getty Images

Gladys Knight is referred to as the Empress of Soul. She is a seven-time Grammy Award winner and gained popularity with her hits between 1960 and 1980. She is known for I Don’t Want to Know, License to Kill, and Neither One of Us.

Aaliyah

She was an American singer whose singing career began at 11. She was considered one of the people who refined contemporary R&B and hip hop. Aaliyah was also known as the Queen of Urban Pop.

Erykah Badu

Famous black female musicians
American singer-songwriter Erykah Badu performs onstage during Another Badu Birthday Bash concert at The Factory in Deep Ellum in Dallas, Texas. Photo: Omar Vega
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She is an American singer, songwriter and rapper known for hits such as Otherside of the Game, Next Lifetime, and Bag Lady. She is a four-time Grammy Award winner.

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Nina Simone

Black female singers today
Nina Simone during a performance. Photo: Tom Copi
Source: Getty Images

The late Nina Simone was a singer, songwriter, and pianist. She sang multiple music genres, including jazz, folk, R&B, pop, and classical. Some of her compositions are Central Park Blues, Sealion, and Blackbird.

Rihanna

Black female singers
Barbadian singer Rihanna and her partner ASAP Rocky arrive for the 2023 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Photo by ANGELA WEISS
Source: Getty Images

Robyn Rihanna Fenty is one of the most popular black female singers ever. She has about eight studio albums with over 50 singles, and some of her popular songs are Diamonds, Rude Boy, and Umbrella. She is a nine-time Grammy Award winner.

Mamie Smith

She was an American singer who sang jazz and blues. She was the first African-American musician to make vocal blues recordings in 1920. Her songs include Crazy Blues, That Thing Called Love, and Royal Garden Blues.

Gloria Gaynor

Best black female singers
Gloria Gaynor performs during the "Gloria Gaynor: I Will Survive" premiere during the 2023 Tribeca Festival at Spring Studios in New York City. Photo: Dia Dipasupil
Source: Getty Images

Gaynor is best recognised for I Will Survive, First Be a Woman, and Never Can Say Goodbye. She attained success in the 1980s. Gloria is a two-time Grammy Award winner.

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Chaka Khan

Best black female singers of all time
Chaka Khan speaks onstage at the Prince Paisley Park Celebration 2023 at Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota. Photo: Kevin Mazur
Source: Getty Images

Her real name is Yvette Marie Stevens. Her musical journey started in the 1970s when she was the lead singer of Rufus, a music band. She has been in the music industry for over 50 years and is known for songs such as Ain’t Nobody, Like Sugar, and I Feel for You. She is a ten-time Grammy Award winner.

Dionne Warwick

Black female music artists
Dionne Warwick performs onstage during The New York Pops 40th Birthday Gala at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Photo: Santiago Felipe
Source: Getty Images

The five-time Grammy Award winner is best known for her songs Heartbreaker, Don’t Make Me Over, and Walk On By. She is considered the second-most charted female vocalist in the rock period.

Mahalia Jackson

Top black female singers
American gospel singer Mahalia Jackson performing in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo: Lennart Steen
Source: Getty Images

She was a renowned gospel singer with a career of over four decades. She is one of the pioneers of gospel blues, played in most black churches. Some of the gospel songs of the three-time Grammy Award winner are How I Got Over, Trouble of the World, and A City Called Heaven.

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Chilli

Popular black female singers
Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas of TLC performs during Fridayz Live at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: Naomi Rahim
Source: Getty Images

She was born Rozonda Ocielian Thomas and is an American singer and dancer. She is part of the girl group TLC. Her songs include No Scrubs, Unpretty, and Red Light Special.

Janelle Monáe

Famous black female musicians
Janelle Monáe performs onstage at Essence Music Festival at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo: Kaitlyn Morris
Source: Getty Images

She is an American singer, songwriter, and rapper. Her style of music combines funk, soul, new wave, and hip-hop. Some of her popular hits include I Like That, Lipstick Lover, Make Me Feel, and Pynk.

Ciara

Black female singers today
Ciara attends the Strength of a Woman's Summit in Partnership with Mary J. Blige, Pepsi, and Live Nation Urban at AmericasMart Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Paras Griffin
Source: Getty Images

She is a dancer, songwriter, and singer best known for singing Level Up, How We Roll, and Get Loose. The singer has released about seven studio albums with over 50 singles. She won a Grammy Award in 2006.

Normani

Black female singers
Normani visits SiriusXM's "Morning Mash Up" at the SiriusXM Studios in New York City. Photo: Cindy Ord
Source: Getty Images

Her birth name is Normani Kordei Hamilton. She is a dancer, singer, and songwriter known for being part of Fifth Harmony. Normani began singing in 2012, and some of her best songs are Dancing with a Stranger, That’s My Girl, and Work from Home.

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Kelly Rowland

Best black female singers
Kelly Rowland speaks on day one of the 2023 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture™ at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo: Josh Brasted
Source: Getty Images

She found fame when she was a member of the girl group Destiny’s Child. She later started a solo singing career and released numerous singles and collaborations. Kelly Rowland has won Grammy Awards four times. Her popular songs are Brown Eyes, Like This, and Survivor.

Brandy

Best black female singers of all time
US singer Brandy Norwood attends the Hollywood Walk of Fame Star Ceremony for Jenifer Lewis at the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California. Photo: VALERIE MACON
Source: Getty Images

Brandy was born Brandy Rayana Norwood. She began singing in her church’s choir before venturing into the entertainment industry. Brandy is an R&B singer with hits such as Full Moon, The Boy Is Mine, I Do It for You, and Missing You.

Sade Adu

Black female music artists
Vocalist Sade performs in concert at The Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. Photo: Gary Miller
Source: Getty Images

Sade is a Nigerian-British singer and songwriter. She has a self-titled band in which she is the lead singer. Some of her well-known songs include Smooth Operator, No Ordinary Love, Kiss of Life, and The Sweetest Taboo.

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Eartha Kitt

Top black female singers
Miss Eartha Kitt performs at an event for M.A.C Cosmetics and Zac Posen at Cafe Carlyle in New York City. Photo: Amy Sussman
Source: Getty Images

Eartha Kitt was a singer-actress whose professional career began in 1942 and thrived in the music and film industry. She had over 20 studio albums with several songs, such as Santa Baby, I Love Men, Where Is My Man, and Snuff Out The Light.

Tracy Chapman

Popular black female singers
Tracy Chapman performs at Neil Young's Annual Bridge School Benefit 2001 at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. Photo: Tim Mosenfelder
Source: Getty Images

Tracy Chapman is a four-time Grammy Award winner known for hits such as Fast Car, Give Me One Reason, Telling Stories, and The Promise. She sings folk, blues, rock, pop, and soul.

Jennifer Hudson

Famous black female musicians
Jennifer Hudson performs onstage during the Pre-GRAMMY Gala & GRAMMY Salute to Industry Icons Honoring Julie Greenwald and Craig Kallman in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Emma McIntyre
Source: Getty Images

Jennifer Kate Hudson is a multiple award-winning singer-songwriter and actress. Her notable music awards include two Grammy Awards and BET Awards. Hudson’s most popular songs are If This Isn’t Love, Spotlight, Giving Myself, and Think Like a Man.

Ashanti

Black female singers today
Ashanti attends the Feature Presentation Podcast's official launch in New York City. Photo: Shareif Ziyadat
Source: Getty Images

She was born Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas, and her performing talent was discovered as a teenager. Her music career took off after she signed with Murder Inc. She has a single Grammy Award and is known for songs such as Foolish, Rain on Me, Happy, and Rock Wit U.

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Celia Cruz

Black female singers
Cuban-American Salsa singer Celia Cruz performs at 'El Concierto Por La Vida,' an AIDS benefit for GMHC at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center, New York, New York. Photo: Jack Vartoogian
Source: Getty Images

Celia Cruz is among the best black female singers of all time, having released over 50 music albums with several songs. The three-time Grammy Award winner’s singing career spanned about five decades. She was a Latino singer, and some of her best songs included Te Busco, La Vida es un Carnaval, and Quimbara.

Yolanda Adams

Best black female singers
Singer Yolanda Adams performs onstage during the 2023 Martin Luther King, Jr. Beloved Community Commemorative Service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Paras Griffin
Source: Getty Images

Yolanda is a big name in the American gospel music industry. She is considered one of the all-time best-selling gospel artists. She has four Grammy Award wins, and her best songs include The Battle Is the Lord's, Open My Heart, and Be Blessed.

India Arie

Best black female singers of all time
India Arie performs onstage during BGR! Fest - Day One at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Photo: Brian Stukes
Source: Getty Images

India is an American singer and songwriter with about seven studio albums and several songs. She is among the best black female singers and has won four Grammy Awards, among other top musical awards. The songstress started singing in 1998 and is recognised for hits such as Steady Love, Brown Skin, and The Alphabet.

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Nancy Sue Wilson

Black female music artists
American Jazz singer Nancy Wilson (1937 - 2018) performs onstage during Chicagofest, Chicago, Illinois. Photo: Paul Natkin
Source: Getty Images

Nancy was a jazz, pop, blues, and soul singer whose singing career spanned more than five decades. She won the Grammy Awards three times and is known for songs such as Guess Who I Saw Today, How Glad I Am, and I Can’t Make You Love Me.

Deniece Williams

Top black female singers
Deniece Williams performs during Mother's Day Experience Concert at Bank United Center in Miami, Florida. Photo: Vallery Jean
Source: Getty Images

She is one of the great soul voices known for songs including Let’s Hear It From the Boy, Black Butterfly, and It’s Gonna Take a Miracle. She is a four-time Grammy Award winner.

Black female singers have made a mark in the music industry. Numerous other singers deserve a mention for their outstanding careers. Their songs have stood the test of time, entertaining and inspiring generations.

Legit.ng published a list of the 10 best singers in the world. There are many extraordinarily gifted singers in the world. They have released many songs, won awards and inspired generations, but who makes it in the list of the 10 best?

Selecting the best singers worldwide is challenging since people have different music preferences. However, some singers have captivated many music lovers and are undoubtedly the top contenders.

Source: Legit.ng

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