Who Are the Best Jazz Female Vocalists?

At the dawn of the 20th century, jazz emerged and changed the music industry forever. However, it seems that it was — and remains — a male-dominated world, with female vocalists consistently the minority. 

Although female jazz vocalists are outnumbered by their male counterparts, this has not prevented them from flourishing and producing some of the best jazz music to ever grace our ears. 

In this article, Sharon Marie Cline shares a few of her all-time favorite female jazz vocalists. Each female musician possesses a unique and compelling voice that stands out. 

Related post: Five Female Jazz Singers You Should Listen to

Who Are the Best Jazz Female Vocalists of All Time?

  1. Cassandra Wilson

Cassandra Wilson rose to fame thanks to her seductive timbre and smoky undertone, as well as her ability to make any song her own. Wilson became a blip on the music industry’s radar in the mid-80s as part of Steve Coleman’s M-Base Collective. 

In 1993, she became a part of Blue Note, a renowned record company. Her work reached an even wider audience when she produced several albums for JMT, leading her to become one of the most popular female jazz singers of the decade.

  1. Dianne Reeves

Blessed with a five-octave voice, Dianne Reeves is a multi-Grammy winner who has produced numerous records since the 70s. She took her first tentative steps in the genre in 1982 and eventually joined the Blue Note record label in 1987, allowing her music to reach more people. 

Reeves is not only one of the most famous female jazz vocalists out there but is also a notable songwriter who can adapt her voice to fit Latin, Caribbean, pop, and R&B music.

  1. Nina Simone

Nina Simone dreamt of becoming a concert pianist but struggled to do so because of classist issues in America. However, she did not give up and became a jack of all trades in the music industry, which led to her success. Throughout her career, she performed a variety of jazz, gospel, folk, and blues music. This made her a hugely influential artist who inspires even today’s young musicians.

  1. Dinah Washington

Dinah Washington is another of the many female jazz vocalists who leaves an undeniable mark on anyone who listens to her music. She rose to fame after she began producing risque blues in the 1940s. 

Like her idol Bessie Smith, she cast a spell when she sang and managed to enchant the likes of Nancy Wilson and Esther Phillips, which made her a hugely influential singer in her heyday.

  1. Sarah Vaughan

Aptly referred to as “The Divine One,” Sarah Vaughan was an artist with a tremulous, heavenly vibrato that spoke to the romantic heart. Before going solo, her career was lined with famous bands such as Earl Hines and Billy Eckstine. She reached an even wider audience in 1954 when she signed with Mercury Records. Today, she is remembered for her angelic voice and incredible stage presence. 

Related post: Types of Jazz: Scat Singing

Wrap-Up on the Best Female Jazz Vocalists

Today’s rising stars could one day join the list of the best jazz female vocalists in the world. A prime candidate is Shannon Marie Cline, who is a popular vocalist with adaptable music, incredible stage presence, and soulful crooning. Reach out to her today for your next occasion.

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