back to top

27 Of The Greatest Singers From The Last Generation

Prepare your ears and hearts, because these women sing from the soul.

Posted on

Prepare your ears and hearts, because these women sing from the soul.

1. Ella Fitzgerald

instagram.com

Ella Fitzgerald was one of the most popular female jazz singers of all time. During her lifetime, she won 13 Grammys and sold more than 40 million albums. Her voice was nimble and accurate, and she had a versatile vocal range. She could sing sexy ballads, jazz, and imitate all the instruments of an orchestra. She's impossible to forget.

2. Donna Summer

instagram.com

The queen of disco music, Donna Summer won 5 Grammy Awards, received 6 American Music Awards, and even ventured into film. The Queen is the Queen, am I right people?

Advertisement

3. Jovelina Pérola Negra

Instagram: @vini_andrade_85

A member of the dynasty of great female voices of samba, Jovelina "Black Pearl" worked as a maid and street vendor. But she never gave up on her dream of becoming a singer, and at the age of 40, she began her career and soon gained a following. She ended up recording six albums in all.

4. Whitney Houston

instagram.com

Considered one of the greatest singers in history, Whitney Houston is the most awarded female artist of all time, having sold 200 million albums. In addition to singing, Houston also worked as a songwriter, actress, film producer, businesswoman, and model.

6. Clementina de Jesus

instagram.com

Clementina is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in samba, and in Brazilian popular music. She's also responsible for keeping alive the tradition, culture, and history of blacks enslaved in Brazil. She worked for years as a maid, but won over the critics and the public with her husky voice and almost spoken-word singing style. She recorded more than 120 songs and performed on many other Brazilian singers' albums in her time.

Advertisement

7. Nina Simone

instagram.com

One of the most impressive artists of the 20th century, Nina Simone was one of the greatest voices in jazz. The singer was also known for her activism with the Black Power movement in the '60s. Her musical legacy is enormous, and she recorded more than 40 albums. Truly remarkable.

8. Aretha Franklin

instagram.com

The Queen of Soul, Franklin has won the second most number of Grammies of any female artist in history. Her legacy has stretched for six decades. She has also sang pop, rock, and even opera.

9. Elza Soares

instagram.com

Elza Soares is still one of the most important voices in Brazilian music to this day. Her story is incredible, and more than anything, she's a survivor. In 1999, she was elected by BBC Radio as the Brazilian singer of the millennium.

10. Cesária Évora

instagram.com

This singer from Cape Verde became known as the "barefoot diva." It was the title of her first album, and Cesária always performed without shoes. In 2009, she received the insignia of the French Legion of Honor after a career of over 45 years in music.

Advertisement

11. The Supremes

instagram.com

Florence Ballard, Diana Ross and Mary Wilson formed The Supremes, a girl group that found a huge amount of success in the '60s and '70s. They sang doo-wop, pop, soul, psychedelic rock, and disco hits.

12. Miriam Makeba

Youtube

Known as Mama Africa, this South African singer was an important activist in her country. She fought against apartheid, and even had her records banned and her nationality revoked. In 1990, she returned to her country at the invitation of President Nelson Mandela, who received her personally.

13. Tina Turner

instagram.com

Tina Turner is undoubtedly one of the greatest legends in music. Besides her many memorable songs, she was also hugely influential in the dance world because of her choreography. In 2003, at age 73, she became the oldest person to appear on the cover of "Vogue." Truly an icon.

14. Dona Ivone Lara

instagram.com

The Matriarch of Samba, Dona Ivone Lara is a singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist. She confronted the macho culture of the genre, and came to be known for the distinctive style of her songs, which were melodic and full of harmonic sophistication.

Advertisement

15. Billie Holiday

instagram.com

Billie Holiday was a uniquely authentic and talented singer. Her singing was like a feeling, almost as though she were a musical instrument herself. She lived a short life and died at only 44 years of age, but nevertheless left a lasting impact on music.

16. Zezé Motta

instagram.com

Best known for her work as an actress in Brazil, Zezé Motta is also a singer of some regard. In all, she has recorded 13 albums and has had a career that demonstrates how indispensable she is as an artist.

17. Josephine Baker

Youtube

A singer, dancer, activist, and–believe or not–agent of the French Resistance, Josephine Baker was known for having the voice of a songbird. She confronted a lot of racism during her career, and was sometimes called "Black Pearl", "Bronze Venus", and "Creole Goddess."

18. Abbey Lincoln

instagram.com

Abbey Lincoln became known for her independent and determined style. She recorded and appeared in films throughout the '50s and '60s. She resurfaced as a songwriter in the 1990s and broke sales records by releasing two albums in which she criticized rappers, comics, and filmmakers for "profiting from the denigration of black culture."

Advertisement

19. Alcione Nazareth

instagram.com

Alcione remains one of the most successful female samba musicians in all of Brazil. She is also known as "A Marrom," and has an unmistakable voice. She still has countless adoring fans from a career that has lasted over 45 years.

20. Etta James

instagram.com

Etta James was a singer as well as a blues, R&B, and gospel songwriter. Nicknamed "Miss Peaches," she was ranked #22 among the best singers of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.

21. Lia de Itamaracá

instagram.com

Lia de Itamaracá is a highly talented dancer, singer, and composer from Pernambuco, Brazil. Known for "cirandas," a style of music from the Island of Itamaracá, she so adores the place that she uses it in her stage name.

22. Chaka Khan

instagram.com

An icon of funk music, Chaka Khan broke out in the '70s as a vocalist for the band Rufus. She was also a civil rights activist, and worked with the Black Panthers.

Advertisement

23. Sandra de Sá

instagram.com

One of the biggest names in MPB, (Música Popular Brasileira, a genre of music popular in Brazil) Sandra de Sá has always been an advocate for black musicians. She broke out in the '80s and left her mark on the Brazilian music scene forever.

24. Oleta Adams

instagram.com

Oleta Adams became known for her work on musical projects with artists such as Phil Collins, Elton John, and Tears for Fears. Today, the singer has an impressive solo career.

25. Minnie Riperton

instagram.com

Minnie Riperton was a member of The Gems and Rotary Connection, while simultaneously building her solo career. In the '70s, she broke out with the romantic hit "Lovin' You."

26. Tammi Terrell

instagram.com

Tammi Terrell's career was cut short. She became well known after singing a duet with Marvin Gaye. In 1967, just as her career was taking off, she was diagnosed with a tumor, which took her life at the age of 24.

Advertisement

27. Sarah Vaughan

instagram.com

Sarah Vaughan was a jazz singer, known for her deep, versatile voice. In 1989, she was named one of the NEA's Jazz Masters, one of the most prestigious accolades given to jazz musicians.

28. Want to hear some of these amazing singers? Here's a Spotify playlist with all these wonderful women on it. You can listen to it and fall in love right along with us.

Advertisement

This post was translated from Portuguese.