The 25 Best Female Jazz Singers Of All Time

There is no shortage of talented vocalists, but the best female jazz singers possess unique voices which hold their own against their male counterparts.

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Billie Holiday, one of the best female jazz singers ever
Photo: William Gottlieb/Redferns

Ever since jazz was born at the dawn of the 20th Century, women have been – and continue to be – a minority in what is a largely male-dominated world. There is, however, one area of the genre where females have always excelled and flourished – the domain of the jazz vocalist. There has been no shortage of talented singers over the decades, but the best female jazz singers possess unique voices and personalities which truly ensure they hold their own against their male counterparts.

Jazz has produced so many accomplished and influential female singers over the years that limiting the best female jazz singers to a meager 25 is a challenge that many would deem impossible. It’s not so much a question of who to include, but, rather, who to omit. There are, of course, those who are so significant that their names will automatically be at the top of most people’s lists of the best female jazz singers of all time – namely, the mighty Holy Trinity comprising Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Sarah “Sassy” Vaughan.

While this formidable trio’s greatness is not in dispute – nor ever will be – it doesn’t necessarily mean that the remaining 22 singers on the list that follows can be considered as mere also-rans, there just to make up the numbers. Indeed, each one has a unique quality that makes them special, and they have all made (and some are still making) a vital contribution to the art – and history – of jazz singing.

There are those, like Ella, Vaughan, Betty Carter, and Anita O’Day, whose voices are agile and athletic, and able to indulge in mind-boggling vocal gymnastics. But dazzling technique isn’t everything – nor is it, necessarily, a prerequisite for being a jazz singer, as Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, and Peggy Lee demonstrated. For those artists, communicating with their audience and conveying deep emotion was paramount. The fewer notes they used, the more profound and eloquent they seemed to be.

The inclusion of contemporary chanteuses – among them Dianne Reeves, Madeleine Peyroux, and Diana Krall – reveals that Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughan still have descendents in jazz. More importantly, their presence shows us that singing jazz isn’t a dead art form, but is very much alive and still evolving. And with talented young singers such as Cécile McLorin Salvant, Charenée Wade, Cyrille Aimée, and Jazzmeia Horn all waiting in the wings, the future looks incredibly bright for female jazz singers.

The following is a list of the 25 best female jazz singers of all time. Proceeding in an ascending order of greatness, it is a rich tapestry of voices – perhaps the greatest female choir ever assembled.

While you’re reading, listen to our Best Female Jazz Singers playlist here.

25: Norah Jones (born 1979)

This piano-playing daughter of legendary Indian sitar meister Ravi Shankar was born in New York but raised in Texas. Blessed with a mellow tone and soft, caressing delivery with a slight country twang, Jones first made her mark in 2002, when her debut album, Come Away With Me, helped by the single “Don’t Know Why,” ignited the public’s imagination. Not content with being one of the best female jazz singers of her generation, Jones took a detour into singer-songwriter territory in more recent years, before making a welcome return to her jazz roots on her last album, 2016’s Day Breaks.

Norah Jones - Don't Know Why

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24: Diana Krall (born 1964)

To date the top-selling female jazz singer of the 21st Century, this three-times Grammy-winner from Nanaimo, in British Columbia, combines a sultry voice with dexterous piano skills. Krall made her debut in 1993, but it wasn’t until she hooked up with her long-time producer, the late Tommy LiPuma, from 1995 onwards, that she began to blossom into the star that we know today, thanks to stellar albums such as The Look Of Love. Though she can swing with élan, Krall’s métier is languorous ballads and sensuous bossa novas.

23: Cassandra Wilson (born 1955)

Renowned for her seductive smoky timbre and ability to take a song from any genre or repertoire and make it indisputably her own, Mississippi-born Wilson first came on the radar of jazz heads in the mid-80s as part of saxophonist Steve Coleman’s M-Base collective. But it was when she moved to Blue Note in 1993 – after seven albums for indie label JMT – that Wilson’s work started to reach a wider public.

22: Dakota Staton (1930-2007)

Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Staton combined a sassy personality with an athletic but also expressive set of pipes. She got spotted performing by Capitol Records’ producer, Dave Cavanaugh, at a Harlem nightclub in the late 50s, and ended up signing for the label, where, during a five-year spell, she recorded her finest work, including the classic 1957 LP The Late, Late Show.

21: Madeleine Peyroux (born 1974)

Like many of the best female jazz singers, Peyroux was influenced by Billie Holiday’s dreamy mellow tone and behind-the-beat, rubato phrasing, but this Georgia-born chanteuse (who often accompanies herself on guitar) has forged her own singular style since emerging in 1996. The palpable presence of Gallic elements in her music – with shades of Django Reinhardt’s gypsy jazz sound – reflect Peyroux’s teenage years busking in Paris.

20: Etta Jones (1928-2001)

Originally from South Carolina but raised in Harlem, Jones came on the radar of the mainstream American public in 1960 when her version of the jazz standard “Don’t Go To Strangers” (from the album of the same name) broke out of the jazz ghetto and penetrated the US pop Top 40. Though she was only 32 at the time, Jones was not, as some assumed, a novice, and had, in fact, been recording since she was a teenager, cutting her first record back in 1944. As “Don’t Go To Strangers” proved, she was a remarkable and acutely sensitive balladeer with a nuanced delivery.

Don't Go To Strangers

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19: Shirley Horn (1934-2005)

From Washington, DC, sultry-voiced Horn started out as a classical pianist, but by the time she turned 20 she was singing and leading her own jazz trio. It was in 1960, though, when she was 26 and had released her debut LP, that Horn made her mark in the jazz world. She was aided by her friendship with Miles Davis, who was an enthusiastic champion of her music. Despite Miles’ endorsement, Horn found commercial success elusive until she signed with Verve in the late 80s and revitalised her career with a series of fine LPs.

18: Dee Dee Bridgewater (born 1950)

Born Denise Garrett in Memphis, Tennessee, and raised in Michigan, Bridgewater was the daughter of a jazz trumpeter and rose to fame in the 70s, first with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra and then in the Broadway musical The Wiz (later turned into a movie featuring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson), for which she won a Tony award. After dabbling with soul and fusion in the latter part of the decade, Bridgewater signed to Verve in the 90s and quickly established herself as one of the best female jazz singers in contemporary jazz.

17: Dianne Reeves (born 1956)

Blessed with a lithe, five-octave voice, this multi-Grammy-winner from Detroit (who was raised in Denver, Colorado) has been recording since the 70s, when she guested on albums by Ronnie Laws and her cousin George Duke. Though her solo career began in 1982, Reeves gained wider exposure after joining Blue Note in 1987, where she stayed until 2008. Though she can sing straight-ahead jazz with aplomb (she’s particularly adept at scat singing), Reeves is a noted songwriter and also something of a musical shape-shifter who can convincingly switch from jazz and fusion to Latin, pop, R&B, and Caribbean music.

16: Abbey Lincoln (1930-2010)

This Chicago-born singer, songwriter, actress, and civil-rights activist (real name Anna Marie Wooldridge) first emerged in the mid-50s as a solo performer with a unique style, which acknowledged the jazz tradition but also, as she got older, looked beyond it. She made her presence felt, too, with drummer (and then-husband) Max Roach’s band on three notable early 60s jazz albums (including We Insist!) that offered a trenchant socio-political commentary on the American way of life.

Devil's Got Your Tongue

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15: Helen Merrill (born 1930)

Though the world knows her as Helen Merrill, this sonorous-voiced New York-born singer was born Jelena Ana Milcetic into a family with Croatian ancestry. Captivated by jazz at an early age, she was singing in local clubs at 14 but didn’t make her recording debut until she was 22, with the Earl Hines band. Her solo career began in the mid-50s and she continued to record regularly up until 2003, after which she retired.

14: June Christy (1925-1990)

From Springfield, Illinois, this silky-voiced chanteuse was born Sharon Luster and briefly performed as Sharon Leslie before settling for the name June Christy, after joining the band of noted West Coast pianist Stan Kenton. With Kenton at the helm, Christy scored a million-selling hit in 1945 with “Tampico.” A doyenne of the West Coast cool school of jazz, Christy possessed an agile set of pipes with a fluttery vibrato.

13: Blossom Dearie (1924-2009)

With a girlish timbre as wispy and delicate as gossamer, Margrete Blossom Dearie patented a unique vocal style in the late 50s that made her stand out from other female jazz singers. Her career took off in the early part of the decade, in France, when she performed with a group called The Blue Stars before embarking on a solo career later in the same decade. In the 70s, she started her own record label, Daffodil, and was also a noted pianist and songwriter.

12: Anita O’Day (1919-2006)

Now hailed as one of the best female jazz singers of her generation, Anita O’Day was branded The Jezebel Of Jazz by the mainstream US press for drugs offenses that resulted in a prison sentence. Yet O’Day – born Anita Colton in Kansas City – enjoyed a long and successful career that spanned 65 years. Noted for her short, horn like-phrases and lack of vibrato (due to a childhood tonsillectomy), O’Day’s athletic style was defined by an infectious rhythmic dynamism.

11: Chris Connor (1927-2009)

Mary Jean Loutsenhizer is better known as Chris Connor, who, like Anita O’Day, was a native of Kansas City, Missouri. Connor’s breathy, sensuous voice first gained exposure in Claude Thornhill’s band, in 1949, before she launched a solo career at indie label Bethlehem, in 1954. Arguably the most fertile and rewarding phase of her career came at Atlantic Records between 1956 and 1962. She recorded her final album three years before her death in 2003.

10: Julie London (1926-2000)

With her smoldering delivery and glamorous movie-star looks, California-born London epitomized the archetypal 50s torch singer. She’s chiefly remembered for her immortal reading of Arthur Hamilton’s ballad “Cry Me A River,” which cemented her name among the best female jazz singers after her version became a big transatlantic hit on the back of her performance in the 1956 movie The Girl Can’t Help It. As well as releasing 29 albums, London appeared in a plethora of movies and TV shows. Her last recording was made in 1981.

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9: Betty Carter (1929-1998)

Born Lilli Mae Jones in Flint, Michigan, Betty Carter is widely acknowledged as not only one of the best female jazz singers of all time, but as one of the music’s greatest ever scat singers and vocal improvisers – of either sex. Mentored by bebop architect Dizzy Gillespie, she got her big break with vibraphonist Lionel Hampton’s band in 1948 and then began her recording career as a solo artist in the mid-50s. She was also renowned as a jazz teacher and talent spotter, allowing up-and-coming musicians to showcase their talents in her band (including noted pianists John Hicks, Mulgrew Miller and Cyrus Chestnut).

8: Nina Simone (1933-2003)

A preacher’s daughter from Tryon, North Carolina, Eunice Waymon dreamed of being a concert pianist before being discouraged, in 1950, by the racism she purportedly encountered in the classical-music educational establishments of the time. Still eager to make her way in the world as a musician, a few years later she transformed herself into nightclub chanteuse Nina Simone, and started performing an unclassifiable amalgam of jazz, blues, gospel, and folk music flavours, all infused with a righteous spirit. A profoundly influential figure, Simone remains an inspiration to many young musicians today.

7: Carmen McRae (1922-1994)

Born in Harlem to a Costa Rican father and Jamaican mother, the young McRae was drawn to jazz at an early age. A key moment in her life came when, aged 17, she met Billie Holiday, who would prove her biggest inspiration (she also wrote a song called “Dream Of Life,” which Holiday recorded in 1939). Despite Holiday’s huge influence, McRae discovered her own unique voice and became renowned as a sensitive interpreter of lyrics. Her last recording was made in 1991.

6: Bessie Smith (1894-1937)

The only one of our 25 best female jazz singers of all time to be born in the 19th Century, Bessie Smith was buried in an unmarked grave after dying, aged 43, in GT Thomas Hospital in Clarksdale, Mississippi (now the Riverside Hotel), following a car crash, but later became the subject of a 2015 Hollywood biopic starring Queen Latifah. Though she was dubbed The Empress Of The Blues, this Chattanooga-born singer was a key figure in the evolution of early vocal jazz and went on to influence singers such as Dinah Washington and Janis Joplin.

5: Peggy Lee (1920-2002)

Combining a smoldering sensuality with a “less is more” vocal minimalism, Peggy Lee was born Norma Delores Egstrom in Jamestown, North Dakota, and served her apprenticeship in Benny Goodman’s band during the 40s before going solo. She enjoyed a string of hits for Capitol Records in the same decade before moving to Decca, where she recorded one of her most famous and enduring LPs, Black Coffee, in 1956. Lee’s most iconic song, though, is 1958’s “Fever,” which encapsulated her laconic and laidback style.

Peggy Lee - Fever (Official Video)

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4: Dinah Washington (1924-1963)

Nobody could deliver a lyric like the singer born Ruth Lee Jones, whose clear and precise diction, combined with a tart, clipped delivery, left an indelible mark on her listeners. She rose to fame making risqué blues records in the 40s, but evolved into one of the world’s best female jazz singers thanks to her urbane, jazz-inflected sophistication. Like her idol, Bessie Smith, Dinah Washington was a highly influential singer; those who fell under her spell included Esther Phillips and Nancy Wilson.

3: Sarah Vaughan (1924-1990)

Boasting a gorgeous, full-bodied voice with a tremulous, heavenly vibrato, it’s no wonder New Jersey’s Sarah Vaughan was often referred to as The Divine One. She sang with the bands of Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine before launching her solo career in the late 40s, but didn’t really cross the consciousness of the wider public until she signed with Mercury Records in 1954, which resulted in a series of noteworthy albums. Vaughan was an accomplished song stylist who was as comfortable scatting over a swinging groove as she was delivering a sensuous romantic ballad.

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2: Billie Holiday (1915-1959)

Though not as technically gifted as the younger Sarah Vaughan, Philadelphia-born Billie Holiday (real name Eleanora Fagan) had a way of communicating with a song that was second to none. Her voice had a deeply soulful quality that made everything Lady Day sang seem poignantly autobiographical.

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1: Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996)

Topping our list of the 25 best female jazz singers of all time is the incomparable First Lady Of Song herself, who hailed from Newport News, Virginia, but whose journey to fame began on the stage of New York’s Apollo Theater, in 1934, when she won first prize in an amateur talent competition. By the end of that decade, Ella Fitzgerald was singing with drummer Chick Webb’s band, but it wasn’t until 1954, when her manager, jazz impresario Norman Granz, decided to create a record label called Verve solely to expose her talent, that Fitzgerald’s career truly skyrocketed. Able to improvise with her voice like a bebop horn player, Fitzgerald was also a silky balladeer who was able to balance technique with sensitivity.

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Looking for more? Find out who tops our list of the 50 best jazz singers of all time – male or female.



  1. Trevor Wilson

    January 1, 2018 at 7:20 pm

    Why is Diana Krall even on this list? If at least the basic criterion is to be able to “carry a tune” then Krall can not compete. Covering up her inability to even hit basic notes by labelling her style as sultry is doing a disservice to the genre. Listen to Lee, MaCrae, Fitzgerald and then compare their musical chops to Krall and cringe when Krall consistently fails to complete her notes, often a quarter tone off-key. Krall is emblematic of a modern musical audience that doesn’t require professionalism in their music to consider themselves followers of the jazz scene.

  2. Trevor Wilson

    January 1, 2018 at 7:20 pm

    Why is Diana Krall even on this list? If at least the basic criterion is to be able to “carry a tune” then Krall can not compete. Covering up her inability to even hit basic notes by labelling her style as sultry is doing a disservice to the genre. Listen to Lee, MaCrae, Fitzgerald and then compare their musical chops to Krall and cringe when Krall consistently fails to complete her notes, often a quarter tone off-key. Krall is emblematic of a modern musical audience that doesn’t require professionalism in their music to consider themselves followers of the jazz scene.

    • Christopher Nowak

      September 24, 2019 at 12:05 am

      Why did you say this TWICE??
      A lot of people would disagree with you.
      Krall might not be the best but she sure is RICH!!

  3. James Mingus

    January 7, 2018 at 9:48 am

    Amy Winehouse has to be close to edging her way onto this list! while not solely a jazz singer he style is dripping in a modern Jazz feel and delivery is truly unique. Solid list though, good to see Ella at no.1

  4. C Rapier Copeland

    January 31, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    Let me make sure I understand this. Norah Jones and Diana Krall are on here, but Nancy Wilson isn’t?! Nancy freakin’ Wilson?!?!?!?! That invalidates this list, so far as I’m concerned.

  5. Brigid

    March 2, 2018 at 8:50 am

    Just wondering why Cleo Laine is not included on the top 25 female jazz singers. Her vocal range is amazing

    • Bill McElhiney

      March 13, 2020 at 4:26 pm

      I agree

  6. Super Dave

    March 5, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    How on earth you can leave the greatest female vocalist of the last 30 years Sade off of this list is beyond logic and Amy Winehouse is a must mention on this list as well.

    • HS

      November 17, 2018 at 8:46 pm

      Sade is more of an R&B chick (and “the greatest female vocalist of the last 30 years”? on what planet?)…Winehouse is more Pop…no question they are talented, and “jazzish”-but neither are true jazz vocalists anyway. What’s more – Nancy Wilson and Rachelle Ferrell should be there before either of them.

    • Jimmy B

      January 21, 2019 at 11:05 am

      That’s the most idiotic comment I’ve ever read on the T’interweb, well done.

  7. Pabkes

    March 8, 2018 at 9:22 am

    This flawed list made me Krall under the table!
    Yes, Nancy Wilson is missing and so are many others like MORGANA KING. Also Joyce Breach, Denise Jannah of the Netherlands are more deserving. Cleo Laine, Carrie Smith…..

    • fran

      March 17, 2020 at 4:54 pm

      Morgana, Morgana, Morgana.

  8. Raymond

    March 8, 2018 at 11:06 am

    Diana Krall? Seriously? Cécile McLorin Salvant not even on the list?

  9. John Whitehead

    March 8, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    Lee Wiley, Maxine Sullivan and Nancy Harrow to add

  10. Barry Dank

    March 8, 2018 at 6:57 pm

    Yes, inclusion of Diana Krall is questionable as well as the omissions of Nancy Wilson, Annie Ross, and yes my favorite, Patricia Barber.

    • Bill McElhiney

      March 13, 2020 at 4:28 pm

      I agrees on Patricia Barber

  11. Christine

    March 8, 2018 at 11:54 pm

    What? You say Diana Krall doesn’t belong on this list??? Nonsense of course she does. So does Nancy Wilson and Shirley Bassey.

  12. Julie

    March 9, 2018 at 3:50 am

    I feel the same about Snorah

  13. Julie

    March 9, 2018 at 3:52 am

    More likely, Etta James died in 2011, not 2001.

    Beyoncé performed Etta James’ signature song At Last for Barack and Michelle Obama’s first dance at the 2009 inauguration ball. Soon after, Etta James said from the stage of Seattle’s Paramount Theatre, “You guys know your president, right? You know the one with the big ears? He might be yours; he ain’t my president. But I tell you that woman he had singing for him, singing my song — she’s going to get her ass whupped.”

    Love, love, love Etta James!

    • Gabriel Aumuld

      April 1, 2018 at 5:12 am

      You read too fast… Etta James isn’t on this list. We are talking about Etta Jones here.

  14. Diren

    March 11, 2018 at 12:47 am

    Of course there were bound to be issues with who you left off this list…but I’m wondering why you failed to give any indication as to why Sassy was third.

  15. Michael Bachman

    March 13, 2018 at 8:16 pm

    June Christy should move into the higher spot occupied by Chris Connor. I’m not knocking Chris, but Chris copied all of June’s vocal styling, and therefore should not be rated higher then the original.

  16. Mike

    March 26, 2018 at 3:04 am

    This list includes only singers whose music Universal has the rights to. Do not get worked up over it


    March 31, 2018 at 12:39 am


  18. Gabriel Aumuld

    April 1, 2018 at 5:16 am

    Jeanne Lee should be on this list…!

  19. A Leon

    June 15, 2018 at 8:39 am

    Ethel Waters and Connee Boswell.

    • Bob Taylor

      March 17, 2021 at 9:39 pm

      Yes, it is a travesty that Connee Boswell and, for that matter, the Boswell sisters, were left off this list. I am glad the author included the nearly forgotten Dakota Staton and Etta Jones, but the omission of Connee and the Boswells makes this an article hard to take seriously. The Boswells contributed as much to the invention of jazz singing as Louis Armstrong, and like Armstrong, they were brilliant musicians. And no Mildred Bailey or Lorez Alexandria? The author is limited by his youth and lack of historical knowledge of the music. I don’t agree with everything in it, but Will Friedwald’s book about jazz singers is tremendously interesting.

  20. J Jarvis

    June 19, 2018 at 6:14 am

    Stacy Kent.

  21. Terence Kelley

    August 24, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    Who was the Jazz singer that had her first gig the same night as Ella? They were both 16.

  22. ADB

    October 10, 2018 at 1:57 am

    Great list … the top 3 feel inevitable, although the order among them isn’t. Any permutation there is defensible, and I’ve lately been inclining toward The Divine One at #1. Two I do miss are the haunting Lee Wiley (who pioneered the “songbook” approach to recording and played with some really fine jazz musicians like Bobby Hackett, Billy Butterfield, and Joe Bushkin) and Nancy Wilson.

  23. JibbaJabba

    February 17, 2019 at 6:47 am

    I was hoping to see my girls Ella Mae Morse and Keely Smith, but honestly I’m not even sure if they’re considered strictly “jazz” singers.

  24. John

    March 8, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    Annie Ross not even on the list ?!!!!

  25. Martin Levin Levin

    March 30, 2019 at 5:53 am

    Yes, much of lower list is debatable and there are glaring omissions, Annie Ross for sure. But Anita O’Day at #12? Puleez. She’s top 5 for sure, a pure jazz artist with an astonishing capacity to swing with the band.

  26. Brian Holly

    March 30, 2019 at 7:40 pm

    Don’t overlook Dinah Shore. Seriously.

  27. Marty Hafenbreadl

    March 31, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    That Thelma Houston isn’t on this list is a much bigger deal than Krall being on it.

  28. George

    April 29, 2019 at 3:18 am

    Yeah.. Funny list :). For me n1 is Sarah Vaughn,Ella second but really doesn’t matter.. Anyway how can u have Madeleine Peyroux or Diana Krall before Jane Monheit for example..

    • Tom P.

      August 25, 2019 at 6:11 pm

      No doubt. I saw Jane last night and she’s freaking incredible, perhaps the most accomplished jazz vocalist I’ve ever heard live. She could share the stage with anyone and force them to be on their A-game.

  29. Dan

    May 25, 2019 at 2:49 am

    No Rosemary Clooney!?

    • Jay Keith

      March 14, 2021 at 5:36 am

      Same question.

  30. Steve Knauer

    June 9, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    Anita O’Day is top 4, hands down!!!

    • Jan Ole Nielsen

      October 8, 2019 at 2:41 pm

      And LENA HORNE !

  31. Mike Watkins

    July 19, 2019 at 10:41 pm

    The greatest living jazz singer as a human and as a singer is Carol Sloane. No mention here which is shocking. She is the business.

  32. Troy Lancaster

    July 28, 2019 at 2:14 am

    Why doesn’t Ethel Waters make the list?

  33. TK Yang

    August 7, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    Where is Basia?? Garbage list…

  34. Tom P.

    August 25, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    I may not have gotten to see Ella, but last night I got to see Jane Monheit. If ANYONE on the scene today deserves to be on the list, it’s Jane.

  35. George

    September 14, 2019 at 1:40 am

    Nancy Wilson

  36. Christopher Nowak

    September 24, 2019 at 12:25 am

    Barbara Lica, Laila Biali and how could you possibly leave out: MOLLY JOHNSON??!!

  37. Christopher Nowak

    September 24, 2019 at 7:15 pm

    Amy Mcconnell and Wendy Lands?

  38. Christopher Nowak

    September 26, 2019 at 11:31 pm

    We should all congratulate Melody on her successful recovery from a car accident (much like
    jazz guitarist Frank Vignola from an ATV accident).

  39. Christopher Nowak

    September 26, 2019 at 11:34 pm

    Sophie Milman and Carol Welsman?

  40. Brian Bankhead

    December 3, 2019 at 4:45 pm

    25 ladies who were great jazz vocal artists, not on the above list: Alberta Hunter, Ida Cox, Ethel Waters, Mildred Bailey, Lena Horne, Helen Humes, Maxine Sullivan, Gloria Lynne, Rosemary Clooney, Annie Ross, Lee Wiley, Ruth Brown, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Esther Philips, Nancy Wilson, Shirley Horn, Ethel Ennis, Irene Kral, Jeanne Lee, Irene Reid, Ernestine Anderson, Phyllis Hyman, Susannah McCorkle, Natalie Cole.

  41. Jeff

    January 14, 2020 at 11:09 am

    One singer that will be high on this list in the future is Angelina Jordan.

  42. Stephen Alison

    February 19, 2020 at 5:28 am

    Where in the F@5K is Nancy Wilson?

    • Fran

      March 17, 2020 at 4:50 pm

      Oh, I so agree with you.

  43. Stan Brody

    March 11, 2020 at 11:34 am

    Am I the only person realizing that undiscover music needs a proof reader… It’s ETTA JAMES… Not Jones…

    • Fran

      March 17, 2020 at 4:47 pm

      No, sir. It is not Etta James, it is Etta Jones. Her best-known recordings were “Don’t Go to Strangers” and “Save Your Love for Me”. She worked with Buddy Johnson, Oliver Nelson, Earl Hines, Barney Bigard, Kenny Burrell, Milt Jackson, Cedar Walton, and Houston Person, whom she dated for years. She is known as the Jazz Musician’s jazz singer. Girl was badddddd.

      • Bob Taylor

        March 17, 2021 at 9:47 pm

        You know your jazz singers. It’s ridiculous that Etta Jones, who was basically a blues shouter with no subtlety is known, for one blippin’ recording, and the brilliant Etta Jones is largely unknown. Other absurd omissions are Connee Boswell and the Boswell sisters, who contributed as much to the invention of jazz singing as Louis Armstrong, Mildred Bailey, Lorez Alexandria, and the sensational Kay Starr.

  44. Jeff Stumpf

    June 27, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    There’s a new kid in town! Angelina Jordan is well on her way to becoming a great jazz singer. Now at 14 she’s already highly regarded among current singers. But, just wait for what is coming as this young woman grows up – Angelina will belong among the top of this list with Ella, Billie, and Sarah.

  45. david gee

    August 15, 2020 at 4:35 am

    Angelina Jordan is on her way to becoming one of the best jazz singers she might even top the top 3 singers she already sings their songs just as good and even sounds better than them at times this list is no good until they put her on here

  46. Morph

    October 30, 2020 at 7:48 am

    You can’t have Diana Krall on this list and miss these great singers Astrud Gilberto,
    Annie Ross,
    Helen Humes,
    Ethel Waters,
    Maxine Sullivan,
    Mildred Bailey,
    Midge Williams,
    Una Mae Carlisle,
    Valaida Snow…

  47. Bobbie Pilgrim

    January 3, 2021 at 8:22 am

    If Julie London and Blossom Dearie are on this list, how the hell is Doris Day not on a top 25 list? 25! She should make the top 10. Is it a genre issue? Like, do her pop songs distract, or is she more swing or pop than jazz? Or is her acting career too much of distraction? Cause Doris needs to be on any top 25 list. Not only was she one of the great jazz singers, she’s better than Julie London amd Blosson Dearie. And they’re great, no doubt. But neither approaches Day. Sorry.

  48. Bobbie Pilgrim

    January 3, 2021 at 5:46 pm

    Wait. I just realized Nancy Wilson isn’t on the list either.

    Diane Krall, who often fails to hit notes, is on the list. But Doris Day and Nancy Wilson are not. Oy.

  49. Bob Taylor

    March 17, 2021 at 9:54 pm

    The marvelous Kay Starr, who Billie said was the “only white girl who can sing the blues” certainly belongs on this list.

  50. Rick Busson

    September 12, 2021 at 1:32 am

    I have to say you did a great gob of balancing electric jazz female artists with popular jazz female artists! I want to point out that under Etta James you misspelled her name as”Jones”.

  51. Fini

    January 3, 2022 at 5:02 pm

    Fix #20 please.

  52. LFMS

    January 31, 2022 at 1:07 am

    Names to be included in the near future: Jazzmeia Horn, Samara Joy and Veronica Swift.
    A name that should be in the top 10: Cécile McLorin Savant.

  53. Jay

    March 16, 2022 at 4:59 pm

    the selections seem so random. Were there any changes since the last time this was posted on udiscovermusic?

  54. Randy Paul

    March 23, 2022 at 11:33 pm

    Roberta Gambarini, Carla Cook, Carol Sloane, Rosanna Vitro, Karrin Allyson, Nancy Wilson and Nnenna Freelon are not on the list, but Norah Jones, Diana Krall, and Julie London are. Sad.

  55. Antonio Ribeiro

    March 24, 2022 at 11:07 am

    A big joke!!! And only commercial interest. Where are Alberta Hunter, Nancy Fildon and Nenna Freelon?

  56. Antonio Ribeiro

    March 24, 2022 at 11:15 am

    Errata, sorry: “Nancy Wilson”.

  57. sheila appleton

    August 27, 2022 at 10:52 pm

    Absolutely right Ella Fitzgerald was THE greatest jazz singer of all time and Billie Holidays was the closest 2nd.
    Someone has mentioned Amy Whinehouse,she wasnt a jazz singer ,she was a pop soul singer,not in any way a jazz singer.
    I have been to many Ella Fitzgerald concerts and she was the ultimate and most prolific of all the female jazz vocalists, she always had the greatest musicians with her :Count Basie,Duke Ellington,Oscar Peterson,Ray Brown etc.No gimmicks just raw talent and very much missed RIP Ella

  58. Yannick Housson

    March 17, 2023 at 1:45 am

    Jeanne Lee should top the list

  59. Terrence Major

    March 20, 2023 at 12:06 pm

    And now, Angelina Jordan.

  60. Ricardo Moncrief

    June 20, 2023 at 9:19 pm

    You’ve got to be kidd’n … One of the greatest singers of all times, Nancy Wilson, is a no-show on this list. What’s wrong with your reviewers … Attacked by aliens?

  61. Richard B. Carland

    April 13, 2024 at 7:54 pm

    Parts of the list, (Cassandra Wilson so far down???) are correct, as are some of the comments. However, most of the list and comments are out of order..

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