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Music has been around since at least 35,000 years ago – it is often said that music is the story of humans. Music is one of the things that makes life so beautiful. One could argue that it is one of the things that makes us so human – the desire to make these catchy songs to lift our mood or heartwrenching lyrics that connect us all with its truth.
As humans evolved, so did music. Nowadays, music is more popular than ever. Platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and others have made music more accessible for everyone instead of the radios of the past. Now, tunes rest in our pockets, ready to be listened to wherever we are.
A music boom is supposed to be coming our way, with artists and companies gaining traction and profits to become more successful. The talent being discovered and appreciated is increasing daily, with opportunities and platforms arising to perform their music to the world. As the industry grows, there has also been a marked increase in the number of people inclined towards music careers.
YouTube, Spotify, and Instagram are filled with people showing their original work or performing covers of their favorite songs in their melodious voices. All these indicate the importance of music coming up.
We’re in the golden age of music, and many singers ensure we get quality music. These artists come from all walks of life and display their talent in many genres, such as pop, jazz, rap, and R&B. R&B, or rhythm and blues, which originated in the 1940s in African-American communities. Many singers have gained fame in this genre.
H.E.R. is the stage name of Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson, an acronym for ‘Having Everything Revealed.’ H.E.R. is of mixed race, having a Filipino-American mother and an African-American father. She was born on June 27th, 1997. The American singer-songwriter is growing into her own within the music industry at this young age. Her latest album was released in 2021, titled ‘Back of My Mind,’ and has 21 songs.
Other songs responsible for her rise in fame include Best Part (feat. Daniel Caesar), which has almost 800 million streams on Spotify alone, and Could’ve Been (feat. Bryson Tiller), Blessed and Free, and Focus. We are eagerly awaiting her new music!
Solána Imani Rowe, more popularly known as SZA, is an American singer-songwriter. She was born on 8th November 1989. She is arguably one of the most influential singers and has many hit songs accredited to her name. Her first album was Ctrl, released in 2017, which caught the mainstream audience’s attention.
She is a viral singer with over 39 million monthly listeners on Spotify. These include Good Days; I Hate U (her latest song), Love Galore (feat. Travis Scott), and Drew Barrymore. She collaborated with American rapper Kendrick Lamar on his song All The Stars, featured in the 2018 Marvel movie Black Panther.
3. Ella Mai
Ella Mai Howell is a British singer-songwriter born on 3rd November 1994. She is currently 27 years old and has a Jamaican mother and an Irish father.
Her mother, a fan of American jazz music, named her after the great jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald (who, along with Louis Armstrong, is responsible for Cheek To Cheek: The Complete Duet Recordings). Her music career was initiated at London’s British and Irish Modern Music Institute in 2014.
During this time, she also auditioned as part of a trio on the 11th season of The X Factor. Ella Mai has almost 6 million monthly listeners on Spotify, and her famous songs include Trip, Shot Clock, and Boo’d Up. Simply titled Ella Mai, her debut album was released in 2018 and received immense adoration.
Aaliyah Dana Haughton has earned the titles of ‘Princess of R&B’ and ‘Queen of Urban Pop.’ The famous American singer, dancer, model, and actress of African-American descent was born on 16th January 1979.
One of the most famed, she has been credited with helping to redefine the genre of contemporary R&B and hip-hop.
Age Ain’t Nothing, but a Number was her first album that changed American pop vocals forever. Her first single, Back and Forth, was a hit song that debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts for three weeks. Unfortunately, the superstar passed away at the young age of 22 in a plane crash. Millions around the world still love her music.
5. Doja Cat
As a teenager, she began making and releasing her music on platforms like Soundcloud, and now, at 26, she is one of the most successful female singers. She has dominated the genres of R&B, pop, and hip-hop. She has been nominated in three categories for a Grammy award in 2020 but unfortunately could not take home any.
Her songs are often found dominating the pop charts. Her most recent album, Planet Her, took the world by storm. She currently has over 56 million monthly listeners on Spotify, with her most famous songs being Woman, Need to Know, Say So, Kiss Me More (feat. SZA), and Get Into It (Yuh). She has a magnetic stage presence and adores millions of her performances.
6. Jorja Smith
Jorja Alice Smith is a British female vocalist called the new voice of homegrown R&B. She was born on 11th June 1997 and has been writing songs since age 11. Record producer Guy Moot discovered this sensation in 2012 after Jorja’s friend uploaded her cover to YouTube.
The debut album of this black female R&B singer is called Lost and Found and was released in 2018 after five years of writing and recording.
Her popular songs include Blue Lights, Addicted, Teenage Fantasy, and On My Mind (Jorja Smith x Preditah). She was raised in Walsall, West Midlands, with her parents, Jolene and Peter Smith.
7. Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton is a songwriter, actress, and pianist. She was born in Maryland on October 7, 1967, and is currently 56 years old.
She has been active in the industry since 1989 but unfortunately had to retire after a diagnosis of lupus in 2013. The successful female music artist has sold over 70 million records worldwide.
Her most remarkable songs include Un-Break My Heart, He Wasn’t Man Enough, and Breathe Again. This outstanding career achievement led her to become a best-selling female artist, particularly in the R&B genre.
Her first album was Boomerang, released in 1992. She also made history in 1998 after she was cast as the first black actress to play Belle in the Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast.
Robyn Rihanna Fenty, NH, was born in Saint Michael, Barbados, on the 20th of February 1988. Rihanna is a powerhouse, one of the world’s most famous black female singers, actresses, fashion designers, and billionaires.
It was American record producer Evan Rogers who found this 35-year-old female artist. He invited her to come to the US to record demo tapes.
One of her most recent outstanding career achievements was being declared a national hero by her birth country, Barbados after it cut ties with the British Empire. With at least 41 awards, she can certainly be considered one of the most awarded, if not the most, female artists. Her most famed songs include Umbrella, Don’t Stop The Music and Work.
9. Teyana Taylor
Teyana Me Shay Jacqeuli Shumpert, more popularly known as Teyana Taylor, is a singer-songwriter, actress, director, choreographer, and model of African-American and African-American-Trinidadian descent.
She made her first national appearance on MTV’s Super Sweet 16. She was born in Harlem, New York, on 10 December 1990 and is currently 32.
She is a successful solo artist with over 2 million monthly listeners on Spotify. The talented vocalist has many songs that millions worldwide appreciate, including Gonna Love Me, Rose In Harlem, and Issues/Hold On. In 2021, she was named the first Black “Sexiest Woman Alive” by Maxim.
10. Alicia Keys
Alicia Augello Cook is a talented singer who was born on January 25th, 1981. The famous jazz singer was the first to have an MTV Unplugged album debut at number one with her album Unplugged in 2005. She is a talented vocalist trained in classical piano who has studied at Columbia University.
She first began composing songs when she was 12, and at 15 years old, she was signed by Columbia Records. Her pieces often include hints of classic blues as well as piano interludes.
Her debut album, Songs in A Minor, was well-received and moved over ten million units worldwide. Some of her best songs include If I Ain’t Got You, No One, Girl on Fire, and My Boo. She has over 20 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
11. Queen Naija
The 28-year-old has described her ancestry as a mix of Arab, Black, and Italian. She started her career as a content creator or vlogger on YouTube before participating in season 13 of American Idol.
Her debut album was titled Misunderstood and released on October 30th, 2020, with 18 tracks. She has a loyal fan base on both YouTube and her music, with some popular songs being Medicine, Butterflies, and Karma.
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, most popularly recognized by her first name, is a successful female music artist. She is an American singer-songwriter and actress who recently wrote and directed a Black is King musical. She was born in Houston, Texas, on September 4th, 1981, and began performing in various singing and dancing performances as a child.
Her rise to fame was accelerated by being the lead singer in a girl group, Destiny’s Child. She had a record-breaking solo career after being in one of the most famous girl groups.
Beyoncé’s first album as a solo artist was called Dangerously in Love and was released in 2003. The singer has won 28 Grammy Awards and is the most-awarded female artist in Grammy history. Her favorite songs include Halo, Run The World (Girls), and Crazy in Love (feat. Jay-Z).
13. Whitney Houston
Whitney Elizabeth Houston was an American actress and singer. She is acknowledged as one of the best-selling female performers, if not the best-selling, with over 200 million records sold worldwide. Her solo success is largely due to her stunning five-octave voice, which shows through her vibrant and spectacular singing.
She is officially the most awarded female artist of all time, according to The Guinness Book of World Records, with 600+ awards, including six World Music Awards and 30 Billboard Music Awards. Whitney Houston passed away in 2012, but her songs, such as I Wanna Dance With Somebody and I Will Always Love You, still receive 22 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
14. Jhené Aiko
Jhené Aiko Efuru Chilombo was born on March 16, 1988, and began her career by contributing vocals to the R&B group B2K. She has a mixed heritage but an African-American, Native American, German, and Jewish father. She has 10 million monthly listeners on Spotify, and her famous songs include Sativa, While We’re Young, and B.S. (feat. H.E.R.).
15. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson, affectionately called J.Hud, is an American singer and actress. The 40-year-old has had an illustrious career, having received two Grammy awards, an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe Award.
She was born on 12th September 1981 in Chicago, Illinois, and has starred in various productions like Cats (2019), Respect (2021), and American Idol (since 2002). Some of her hit songs are Spotlight, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), and On Top of the World.
16. Tina Turner
Tina Turner is one of the most influential black female singers. Born on 26th November 1939, the 83-year-old rose to fame as the lead singer of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue before launching her wildly successful solo career.
She is an American-Swiss singer, songwriter, and actress, having been featured in movies like Mad Max. There was also a documentary released about her in 2021 titled Tina. Some of her most famous songs are The Best, What’s Love Got to Do with It, and Proud Mary.
17. Nina Simone
Nina Simone’s birth name was Eunice Kathleen Waymon. She was a famed American singer-songwriter, musician, and civil rights activist. She was one of, if not the first major blues and first popular jazz singer whose music covered many other genres, such as R&B and folk.
She was born on 21st February 1933 and unfortunately passed away at the age of 70 in France. Her popular songs are Feeling Good, I Put A Spell On You, and Baltimore.
18. Etta James
Etta James, born Jamesetta Hawkins in 1938 in Los Angeles, was an American singer who was one of soul music’s most distinctive voices and dominated other genres like R&B, pop, and blues. One of the most admired singers, she was active in the industry from 1954 to 2012, when she passed away.
Her career took off by 1960, and she received consistent critical acclaim. Celebrated producer Jerry Wexler called her the greatest of all modern blues singers.
Her famed songs include At Last, I’d Rather Go Blind, and A Sunday Kind Of Love. Etta James had a rough and tumble life that could have served as the inspiration for over a dozen soap operas.
19. Janet Jackson
Janet Damita Jo Jackson, born on May 16th, 1966, is an American solo artist, songwriter, actress, and dancer. She is most well known for her socially conscious yet seductive records and intricate stage performances.
She has appeared in movies like Poetic Justice (1993) and Richie Rich (1994). She was one of the most popular recording artists of the 1980s and 90s. Some of her famous songs include Together Again, and That’s The Way Love Goes.
20. Bessie Smith
Although Bessie Smith is not known as one of the black female R&B singers, she deserves a spot on the list because of how she’s impacted R&B. Given the title of ‘Empress of the Blues,’ the American blues singer was widely renowned during the jazz age.
Born in 1894, her career took off when there was primitive recording quality, but her passionate voice overcame the difficulties even then. She is among the most influential black female singers and the finest female jazz vocalist. Her songs include Baby Won’t You Please Come Home and Devil’s Gonna Git You.
Kelela Mizanekristos is an American singer-songwriter who splits her time between LA and London. She is one of the few black singers whose songs often have progressive electronic music and an affinity for prompting club play. She released an EP called Hallucinogen in 2015. This EP deals with the stages of a relationship in reverse order.
These are just a few of the many great singers. Many others have risen to fame throughout history.
Apart from many other artists, hit songs are worthy of your attention. These include the Afro-Cuban singer Celia Cruz, who only sang in her native Spanish language and was a ten-time Grammy nominee and one of Latin music’s most admired vocalists –
Cruz also received a National Medal of the Arts; Diana Ross, one of the rock’s most successful female singers, received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012; and Lauryn Hill, the deserving winner of five Grammy awards.
There is also Janelle Monáe, who left an impact on 2010s R&B with her energized retro-futuristic sound along with theatrical science fiction concepts; Mary J. Blige’s debut album is also worth checking out, with its amalgamation of modern R&B and edgy rap production; and Patti LaBelle, who earned a BET Lifetime Achievement Award.
Of course, many other artists are inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, present their talent in contemporary music, soul music, or pop music and become pop hits, are part of an African-American vocal group, or even start their career as just a girl covering Mariah Carey. These have a place in our hearts and the music industry forever.
We hope you enjoyed learning about these singers! Check out the 9 Most Famous Female Blues Singers if you liked this article. Be sure to listen to these influential singers and enjoy their songs.