Widely regarded as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin was a singer-songwriter, actress, and civil rights activist. Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Aretha was ranked number one on Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Singers of All Time list in 2010. Having sold over 75 million records, she is also one of the best-selling musicians ever.
With several prestigious honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, under her belt, Diana Ross is one of the most popular and influential singers of all time. In 1976, Billboard named her the Female Entertainer of the Century. She has influenced popular artists like Madonna, Beyoncé, and Michael Jackson.
4 Sade Adu
Nigerian-British singer Helen Folasade Adu, or Sade Adu, often blends Afro-Cuban tunes with soul and smooth jazz in her music. The Grammy Award winner had initially studied fashion designing and been a model. The founder of the band Sade, she has released iconic tracks such as No Ordinary Love.
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.
Etta James was an American singer whose powerful, deep voice bridged the gap between rock and roll and rhythm and blues. Her ability to perform in various genres earned her a spot in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Singers of All Time list. Her work has influenced several musicians, including Christina Aguilera, Diana Ross, Janis Joplin, Adele, and Rita Ora.
10 Joss Stone
Joss Stone is an English singer, actress, and songwriter. One of the most successful British female singers of her generation, Stone has sold more than 15 million records worldwide. She has also received several prestigious awards, such as Grammy Award and Brit Awards. In 2006, Joss Stone became the youngest woman to be featured in the Sunday Times Rich List.
Adele is one of the most successful female music artists from England. She is one of the best-selling music artists in the world, having sold over 120 million records. The recipient of numerous awards, Adele also holds several Guinness World Records. In 2012 and 2016, she was named in Time magazine's list of most influential people in the world.
12 Cilla Black
13 Andra Day
14 Paloma Faith
18 Macy Gray
19 Lauryn Hill
Famous rapper and singer, Lauryn Hill, is widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers of all time and a pioneer in the Neo soul genre. The artist whose album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill won five Grammy Awards, is an inspiration for numerous singers and rappers. Earlier, she gained recognition as member of Fugees, an award-winning hip hop group.
20 Jill Scott
23 Emeli Sandé
28 Tiwa Savage
Tiwa Savage is a Nigerian singer, actress, and songwriter. After having created an opportunity to establish herself in the United Kingdom, Savage returned to Nigeria and played an important role in elevating the Nigerian music industry. In 2018, she became the first woman to win the MTV Europe Music Award under the Best African Act category.
29 Fleur East
30 Taylor Dayne
33 India Arie
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.
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.
36 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.
37 Jody Watley
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.
39 Andy Allo
40 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.
41 Lari White
43 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.
44 La Lupe
45 Blu Cantrell
46 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.
47 Kim Tae-yeon
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.