Mary J. Blige is a popular singer-songwriter and actress. Having sold 80 million records worldwide, she is one of the best-selling female artists of all time. Referred to as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary is credited with influencing the fusion of R&B and hip hop. She often gets featured in lists like The 100 Greatest Women in Music.
Dionne Warwick is an American singer, TV host, actress, and former FAO Goodwill Ambassador. Warwick was one of the most successful singers between 1955 and 1999, ranking among the 40 biggest hitmakers according to the Billboard Hot 100. 80 of her singles have been featured on Billboard's music charts, making Warwick one of the most-charted female singers in history.
Shirley Jones is an American singer and actress whose portrayal of a prostitute named Lulu Bains in the 1960 film Elmer Gantry earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Thanks to her skills as a singer, Jones has appeared in several musical films like Oklahoma, The Music Man, and Carousel. She has also been a long-time supporter of PETA.
Mahalia Jackson was an American singer. During her career, which spanned four decades, Jackson played a major role in popularizing gospel blues in black churches across the United States. Regarded as one of the 20th century's most influential vocalists, Mahalia Jackson is credited with inspiring rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and soul singing styles.
Brenda Lee is a singer best-known for performing country music and pop. One of the earliest pop singers to enjoy a contemporary international following, Lee was among the most-charted singers during the 1960s. A Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Lee is the only female performer to be inducted into both the Country Music and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe was an American recording artist, guitarist, and singer-songwriter. Characterized by a mixture of electric guitar and spiritual lyrics, Tharpe's music played an influential role in the development of rock and roll. Her music influenced several rock-and-roll musicians like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Chuck Berry. She is often referred to as the Godmother of rock and roll.
Dee Dee Warwick was a soul singer whose career was largely marred by drug addiction. However, she found success later in her career, recording songs for Private Stock Records and RCA Records. In 1999, she was honored by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation with a Pioneer Award. Warwick is also remembered for being one of the first openly gay singers.
13 Anita Bryant
Initially a schoolteacher, four-time Grammy-winning contemporary gospel singer Yolanda Adams rocked the Billboard charts with her debut full-length single Just As I Am. She was also part of the Tony-nominated team that created the original score of the Broadway musical SpongeBob SquarePants. She has also penned a book on Christian life.
15 Betty Wright
Bessie Regina Norris, better known as Betty Wright, ruled the American gospel, R&B, and soul scene for 6 decades. The Grammy-winning artist joined her family gospel group at age 2, gained fame with the track Clean Up Woman at 17, and had her own record label by the 1980s.
From losing her child due to a miscarriage following the recording of the song Gimme Shelter with The Rolling Stones, to getting her legs amputated after a car accident, singer-actor Merry Clayton has been through a lot. The renowned backing vocalist and gospel singer was also featured in an Oscar-winning documentary.
Trinidadian-American singer-actor Heather Headley is best known for her Tony- and Drama Desk-winning performance in the musical Aida. The Northwestern University drop-out was also part of the theatrical version of Whitney Houston’s movie The Bodyguard and won a Grammy for her gospel album Audience of One.
18 CeCe Winans
Born to a gospel singer father, CeCe Winans and her nine siblings would often sing at church events. The 12-time Grammy-winning artist soared to fame with her debut solo album, Alone in His Presence. She is also known for her collaborative tracks with her brother BeBe and her friend Whitney Houston.
19 Angie Stone
Motivated by her gospel singer father, Angie Stone began singing as a child. She later formed the rap/hip-hop act The Sequence and then became the lead singer of Vertical Hold. Her first solo album, Black Diamond, was a Billboard charter. She has also appeared in movies and campaigned against diabetes.
20 Gloria Jones
Known as The Queen of Northern Soul, singer Gloria Jones soared to fame with the track Tainted Love. She also dated British rocker Marc Bolan and played the keyboard and sang for his band T. Rex. She was driving the car which met with an accident and killed Bolan.
21 Kelly Price
Starting her music career as a background vocalist for singers such as Mariah Carey and George Michael, Kelly Price later made her mark in the industry with albums such as Soul of a Woman and Mirror Mirror. The Grammy-nominated singer is also known for her breast cancer activism.
23 Kari Jobe
The eldest child of The Staple Singers patriarch, Roebuck "Pops" Staples, Cleotha Staples was part of her family gospel group’s eight US top 40 hits. After facing racism, while they toured around performing, Cleotha and her group ventured into Black protest music. Respect Yourself was one of their Billboard-charting tracks.
25 Joy Williams
Joy Williams established herself as a talented contemporary Christian artist before forming the Grammy-winning folk duo The Civil Wars with John Paul White. She had apparently rejected a recording offer at 14 to enjoy her childhood. She is best known for her chartbusting tracks such as From This Valley.
The daughter of singer parents, Deniece Williams grew up singing gospel. Though she initially aspired to be a nurse and an anesthetist, she later took up music full-time and began performing at nightclubs. The Grammy-winning artist soared to fame with tracks such as They Say and I Believe in You.
Twelve-time Grammy-winning gospel singer Shirley Caesar is also known as The First Lady of Gospel. She began her music career with The Caravans and later went solo, releasing phenomenal hits such as Faded Rose and I Remember Mama. She also established a non-profit to serve the needy.
30 Sandi Patty
32 Phoebe Snow
34 Sara Carter
Latin Grammy-nominated contemporary Christian and Latin pop singer Jaci Velasquez started singing at age 10 and later soared to fame with the number one single If This World. She later also experimented with alternative rock. She has also appeared in films such as Chasing Papi and The Encounter.