Top 10 Best African American Female Singers of All Time

Black females have made quite a contribution to the world of music. This post will just be able to celebrate 10 such women who have indeed contributed a rich body of work to our culture. Their distinctive singing style sets them apart in such a way that they should be honored this way. They are so unique in such a way that we can truly say that there will never be another talent like them again.

Check some of the Top 10 Best African American Female Singers of All Time

10. Beyonce

Beyonce Top Most African American Female Singers of All Time 2017

She got her start with a musical girl group called Destiny’s Child. With co-members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, they scored many hits, including “No No No” and “Bills,” in 1998 and 1999, respectively. Their best remembered song as a group, however, is 2000’s “Independent Women,” followed by 2001’s “Survivor.”

Even though the girl group did not officially break up until 2006, Beyonce was working on her own music and movie projects before that point. “Crazy in Love” became her first solo hit in the summer of 2003. “Irreplaceable” became #1 by December 2006.

About the same time, she starred in “Dreamgirls,” a movie/musical based on Motown’s Supremes, an act during the 1960s. She has done various movie roles sinee that point.

In 2008, she cut a song that also hit #1: “Single Ladies” (Put a Ring On It). The same year, on April 4, she made a major change in her personal life: She married rapper Jay Z.

Controversy has been no stranger to Beyonce. With the election of Barack Obama in 2008, she sang Etta James’s hit, “At Last.” Ms. James called her out for choosing the song without the elder artist’s consent.

And in the Super Bowl 2016, she came out with a protest song that members of the white police community condemned as racist and divisive–“Formation.” Months later she came out with a song called, “Lemonade,” which was also criticized by the white community.

9. Tina Turner

Tina Turner

“What’s Love Got to Do With It” will probably be the hit single for which this artist will be best remembered. When she split from her abusive husband and old music partner Ike Turner, she became one of the oldest artists to top the Billboard charts with that record.

She has been known for her big hair, her sexy persona, and her high energy on the stage.

Her string of hits in the 1980s did not stop with “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” The “What’s Love Got to Do With It” soundalike, “Thunderdome” hit in the fall of 1985, and other smaller hits soon followed.

She is also remembered for the few records she had with her late partner, who succumbed to drugs back in 2006–such as “Nutbush City Limits,” from 1973, produced by then husband Ike Turner. Around 1969, they even did their own version of “Proud Mary,” released in 1971. It opens slowly, and suddenly speeds up.

But what fans will probably remember about her most is her seeming eternal youth. Her beauty, even to this day, rivals that of some singers half her age (she is 77 as of this writing).

She may no longer be touring or putting out records today, but if anyone were to ask “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” Tina Turner’s 1984 hit will instantly come to mind.

8. Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin Top 10 Best African American Female Singers of All Time 2017

The Queen of Soul herself. She started out singing in church, where her father, the late Clarence Franklin, was pastor in Detroit. He was shot in 1979, and later died of complications stemming from his injuries about five years later.

But she left her native Detroit, starting her musical career in earnest in 1967 with songs like “Respect,” “Natural Woman,” a song written by singer Carole King, “Chain of Fools,” “Since You’ve Been Gone,” and “Think,” among many others. Her string of hits continued in the ’70’s with such remakes as Ben E. King’s Spanish Harlem,” in 1971, and Stevie Wonder’s “Til You Come Back to Me” in 1974.

The 1980s were not too bad to Aretha either. She scored “Freeway of Love” back in the summer of 1985, and “I Knew You Were Waiting,” a duet with British singer George Michael, soared to #1 in the spring of ’87. In 1998, she charted again with a small hit, “A Rose is Still a Rose.”

She came down with an ailment sometime in the fall of 2010, and many thought we were going to lose the Queen of Soul. However, she recovered, and reassured her fans that it was not the dreaded pancreatic cancer that she was rumored to have had. She has not disclosed the details of her ailment until this day, but all agree that it was quite a scare at the time. She has continued to tour, perform and record until this day.

7. Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson Top 10 Best African American Female Singers of All Time

She was the sister of the late Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five. The world began knowing of her acting abilities at the tender age of nine, when she starred in a child role on TV’s “Good Times.”

But in the 80s it was apparent that she was a singer in her own right. Hits such as “Control,” “Let’s Wait Awhile,” and “Rhythm Nation” placed her on the map as a major pop star in her own right. She was also known for her video appearances, as well. She was a bona fide MTV hit.

But her fame has stretched far beyond singing. She has starred in movies, such as “Why Did I Get Married,” a Tyler Perry movie in which she starred as a marriage therapist unable to save her own marriage, and whose husband was killed in a car accident, leaving her severely emotionally damaged.

She also plays a woman inflicted with the virus that causes AIDS by her own husband, in “Colored Girls.”

Rumors of throat cancer were sparked by her sudden cancellation of a tour. It turned out that she was actually married and pregnant with her first child at the age of 50.

6. Diana Ross

Diana Ross Top Popular African American Female Singers of All Time 2018

Diana Ross made her name as the lead singer of the Motown girl group, the Supremes, back in the 1960s, with such successful songs as “Baby Love,” “Got Him Back In My Arms Again,” “The Happening,” and “Someday (We’ll Be Together).”

But even after Ross herself, Mary Wilson, and Cindy Birdsong, parted company in 1970, Ross’s career continued. As a solo act, she scored some Top 10 hits, far into the 1970s. “Reach Out and Touch” came along in 1970, turning out to be her first solo hit. She topped the charts later that year with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” Her next big chart success would have to wait until August 1973, when she hit the charts again with the sad “Touch Me In the Morning.” Late in 1975 she scored again with the “Theme from Mahogany,” which went to #1 in the early months of 1976. By the way, she snagged the title role in that movie.

1980 was perhaps the biggest year of her solo career, however. Ross hit the charts with “Upside Down,” “I’m Coming Up,” and “It’s My Turn.” In 1981, she had one of the top songs of that summer, with Lionel Richie on “Endless Love.”

She has a daughter, Tracee Ellis Ross, who plays the mom on “Blackish.”

5. Patti LaBelle

Patti LaBelle

In the 60s she led the Bluebells, an all-girl group. She was still in obscurity, until 1975, after she formed LaBelle, another girl group, scored a #1 hit with “Lady Marmalade.” The facts are that we didn’t hear from her again until she went solo, with 1981’s “If Only You Knew,” and until 1984 when she popped up again with “A New Attitude.”

She became known for her distinctive high voice and no-nonsense persona. Her stage shows also have endeared fans to her.

Lately she has been known for her cooking. Just last Christmas season, she became celebrated for her holiday pies. One man went viral on YouTube raving over the recipe.

Patti LaBelle will be remembered as a woman of class whether the subject is her on-stage act, her recordings, or her food.

4. Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson

She was introduced to us as the somewhat insecure girl who was hurt when then American Idol star Simon Cowell put her down, saying that her weight needed to come down. Well, she fixed him if he thought that insult would keep her from becoming famous. She scored a hit with “Dream Girls,” with a beautiful version of Jennifer Holliday’s “And I Am Telling You.” This was really when she showed the world that she could sing. Unfortunately, that performance has not translated into a successful chart single.

However, she has gained visibility as a spokesperson for Weight Watchers, in which she showcases her vocals, as well as her ability to speak up and convince people to join Weight Watchers, telling people that that’s how she lost weight.

Then tragedy struck. Her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew were all shot to death in 2008. She took a break from the business for awhile to deal with the grief, then she came back into the public eye.

Jennifer Hudson will eventually get the respect she deserves with a chart hit, hopefully. Her ability to sing sure merits it.

3. Donna Summer

Donna Summer Top Most Popular African American Female Singers of All Time 2018

If there was ever such a thing as a “disco queen,” Donna Summer surely was it. Even though she is no longer around us today, having been a victim of cancer perhaps due to inhaling September 11-related fumes, she has left a legacy of music with us.

She was introduced to the public at large in 1975 when she came out with “Love to Love You, Baby,” where she is featured taking these sexy, deep breaths. It became a Top 10 hit. Other hits followed as the Disco Era progressed, such as her rendition of Richard Harris’s 1968 hit “MacArthur Park,” “Bad Girls,” “Heaven Knows,” “Enough is Enough,” with Barbra Streisand, among others.

She became a born-again Christian sometime in the 1980’s, and came out with a few gospel records. She, however, is best-remembered until this day for her secular hits.

In Naples, Florida, she died of cancer on May 17, 2012, at the age of 63.

2. Gladys Knight

Gladys Knight Top Famous African American Female Singers of All Time 2019

Gladys Knight is another female African-American singer whose style is very distinctive. She has a very husky, yet soothing in a motherly sort of way, type of voice, whose style can be heard on such hits as “Heard It Through the Grape Vine” (1967), “If I Were Your Woman” (1970), and “Neither One of Us” (1973) and the song she will perhaps be forever remembered, “Best Thing That Ever Happened” (1974).

She broke up with the Pips–comprised of her brothers and cousins, and started singing on her own. The song “So Sad the Song,” became her first solo hit around 1976. Other hits soon followed, such as “Landlord” soon followed. But they never reached the level of success she has enjoyed with the Pips.

1. Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston

She was born into a musical family. Cissy Houston was a singer with a 60s girl group, the Inspirations, which scored a hit in 1968 with “Sweet Inspiration.” She was also the cousin of Dionne Warwick, who was scoring hits at the time with songs by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

Fame for Whitney herself came in 1985 with a ballad “You Give Good Love.” She was able to follow that up with “Savin’ All My Love For You.” And the hits just kept on coming: “The Greatest,” “How Do I Know,” “I Get So Emotional,” among many others. But the song that she is perhaps best remembered for is “I Will Always Love You,” from “The Bodyguard,” in which she landed a starring role.

Just because the hits kept coming didn’t mean she was free from her demons. Unfortunately, they claimed her life, at just 48 years old, on February 11, 2012.

Her vocal range was incredible. Drugs did some damage to that, however. But we can always enjoy the old records and remember her by those.

An incredible talent. One that will never be repeated again.

The deaths of Whitney Houston and Donna Summer at relatively early ages have been a tremendous loss to the whole black community–and the musical community as a whole, indeed, regardless of race. Their talents, in fact, have put them in a class by themselves. Even those who still remain are in a class by themselves, and that is why they are mentioned in this countdown.

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