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My Favorite Female Singers

  • Aug 8, 2009
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There are as many great musicians (namely women) out there as there are stars in the sky. Mind you, this list is not all-inclusive of the various artists or musicians I have grown to appreciate or love through the years but rather a scraping of the whole iceberg if you will. The most difficult aspect of making this list is simply knowing there are many great women in the music industry who rightfully deserve their place on this list but somehow didn't make. it. Perhaps next time around we could list the honorable mentions?
Tori Amos
Ok, so you knew I was going to list her as I've talked about Tori on Lunch since the day I first signed on. Although I could bore you to tears with all the reasons why I love this woman, let me just say you need to seek out her work or see Tori in all her glory (live in concert) if you haven't already done so.
See the full review, "Tori Amos?? An Actor??".
What not to like? Bjork was the ex-lead vocalist of the band Sugarcubes which I loved also. If you aren't familiar with Sugarcubes, they could best be described as an Icelandic B-52's if that helps. Bjork is an amazing talent whose work never fails to amaze me. Her voice is incredible & the arrangements on all of her albums are overly impressive. I suggest starting with Debut or Post for casual or new listeners although my fav-o is Medulla.
Ani DiFranco
Perhaps one of the most influential, prolific folkies around today is none other than DiFranco. Now trust me when I say this is not the folk music your mother grew on. Well, atleast not my mom. Ani writes some rather gritty material which is often laced with a degree of sarcasm. I would suggest newcomers might want to try Dilate or Not A Pretty Girl for starters. I love most of her albums but she cranks them out so quickly that I still don't own even a fraction of them.
See the full review, "Willing To Fight Lyrics (Lyrics Of The Week)".
janis joplin
Perhaps one of the most electrifying talents I've never had the pleasure of seeing live with the exception of the Woodstock films or the Festival Express. Needless to say, Janis had some pipes for someone so young & I've loved every track the woman ever recorded. Although I'd hate to pidgeonhole her sound, Janis could rock but obviously wasn't any stranger to howling the blues either. I suggest trying her Greatest Hits compilations or maybe a box set for the serious Joplin fans.
Joni Mitchell
When it comes to great singer-songwriters, I don't think many can hold a candle to this woman. I mean, most performers will be quite fortunate if Mitchell's name just so happens to be in the same sentence as far as comparisons will go. Joni's lyrics are as beautiful & thought-provoking as a delicate painting. Again, I'm obviously a huge fan but I suggest her Blue record if you are uninitiated. What are you waiting for?
Sarah McLachlan
Everyone should be familiar with Sarah by now & many will refer to her as the other Canadian though that's mainly where the comparisons will stop. Sarah has a beautiful, ethereal voice & crafts some of the most gorgeous music one could ever hope to hear. Think Joni Mitchell by way of Janis Ian and I believe you will get the idea. Any record she makes is good in my book but I am a bit impartial to her Fumbling Towards Ecstacy album.
Stevie Nicks
Sure, everyone knows Fleetwood Mac but Stevie Nicks has had a pretty grand ride in the world of solo careers. In fact, I might even like some of her solo material as well if not better than her Mac days. Either way, you simply can't go wrong. Stevie Nicks is truly a rock Goddess in virtually every sense of the word. I would start with a compilation of Fleetwood Mac's Greatest Hits or Timespace, which is Nicks' greatest material on one album for casual listeners.
Kate Bush: A Visual Documentary
Kate was one of the true pioneers or vanguards of Alterna-pop & the music industry is still in debt to this dear woman. There is not a single album of Kate that I don't love although I recommend Hounds Of Love or The Whole Story as apoint of reference for newbies. If you love the eceentric singer-songwriters like Tori or Bjork, you MUST seek out this woman.
Cocteau Twins
Elizabeth Fraser has one of the coolest, sweetest voices ever to come out of Scotland although I don't know single lyric from any of her records unfortunately. I'm not sure if she sings in another dialect or just makes up words for her albums but the material is certainly a good listen either way. All of the albums I've ever bought were fantastic but I highly suggest you try Heaven Or Las Vegas first if you are new listener.
Azam Ali
Perhaps one of the most well-known female vocalists on the New Age map, Azam Ali has a hypnotic voice not to be missed. I might also add she is qutie prolific as well so you may find yourself playing catch-up if you are a new listener. Lovers of Middle Eastern music or World music will certainly gravitate to her unique sound & will be hard pressed not to purchase every recording she makes. For new listeners, I recommend Elysium For The Brave or her work on the contraband Niyaz's Cd Nine Heavens.
Cat Power
Although Chan Marshall doesn't have quite the extensive catalog that some of the other women I've listed can boast, she has definitely secured her place amongst the indie circuit & has received many accolades through the years for her amazing work as well as much critical acclaim. I'm sure others will probably disagree with me on this one, I recommend Jukebox which is an album of mostly covers. No one can take an album of covers quite like Chan & crank out something this remarkable. All of the songs on this CD are worthy in my book but I love her rendition of "Ramblin' (Wo)man".
This ex-Nightwish vocalist will seize your heart with her incredibly beautiful vocals. I am by no means a huge heavy metal fan per se but this woman could sing virtually any style of music & I would gladly patronize her work. I may be a bit impartial to her work with Nightwish but the solo CD My Winter Storm is ultimately not a joke either. Tarja's voice is soothing, warm & I can't imagine the Opera world without her impressive talents. Check out her live cover song "You Would Have Loved This".
See the full review, "Lost Northern Star Lyrics".
I can't say that I've purchased every single CD this woman ever recorded but let me say that she is perhaps one of the few pop icons that REALLY deserves all the recogniton she's ever received. Often associated with mass controversy, people have overlooked the beauty of Madonna's work which can easily be seen in many of her ballads. I personally love her Like A Prayer album, Something To Remember, & the incomparable Ray Of Light CD.
When we speak of seventies or eighties rock bands which actually rock, I can't help but think of the Wilson sisters Ann & Nancy. Both are equally talented vocalists & their band Heart should be commended for the standing the test of time. Rather than just praising them for their longevity, we can also attest to the fact that Heart paved the way for many young women in the music industry & the Wilson sisters are the pioneers of true female rock.
Pat Benatar
Not unlike Heart, Pat showed the eighties that females could be taken seriously & could hang with the big boys in the male dominated rock industry. Benatar could just as easily rock as she could sing a heartfelt ballad which still impresses the hell outta me to this very day. If for some unknown reason you haven't heard her work in years gone by, get out their & do your homework. You have missed out on so much.
Perhaps one of the most colorful Brit trip-hop bands ever, Portishead never failed to amaze me. Beth Gibbons has a smoking voice that grabs my ears& won't let go. It's difficult to place Portishead in just one category but I have a friend who refers to it as mere loung music & he's right in some sense of the word although that's still an understatement as far as I'm concerned. I even bought Beth Gibbon's solo album Out Of Season which garners a lot of play in my collection even after 7 years.
If you want to be compared to Chrissie Hynde, I wish you all the luck in ther world. This woman is a saviour of the rock industry & still performs at the top of her game as if music was going out of style. Hynde's vocals are often playfully sexy, tough, & sweet all at once. Whether she is collaborating with other great musicians or fronting her legendary band, one cannot deny the power she exhibits to this very day.
Etta James 2
Atlast! Sorry, didn't mean to put Etta at the bottom of my list but I sometimes save some of the best for last if you know what I mean. Hmm, what to be said? This woman was rockin' & blasting ears witn her bluesy/soulful sound long before some of us were even a glint in our parents' eyes. Even now, her music manages to influence so many great women in the music industry across the board that she rightfully has earned her place on any great music fan's list of personal favs. You must get some of her retro material if you haven't caught on yet.
Ok, I hate to cut this one short but I can't leave Sinead off my list of top favs. That would be an insult to injury in my book as Sinead may very well be on the most talented yet overlooked women ever in the industry. As with any great musician, Sinead is as versatile in her style as she is outspoken. I have loved almost every album she ever recorded but I strongly recommend you run out & buy her Collaborations CD after you read this list. Yes, "Monkey In Winter" is one of my all-time favorite tracks & you simply must hear it to believe.

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October 15, 2009
I love this list!  And I know what you mean about not knowing the words to any Cocteau Twins songs, but I guess its Elizabeth Fraser's nonlyrical vocal/style of singing that makes their songs so unique :)
October 15, 2009
Thnx again Devora! I've been listening to the Cocteau Twins for ages & have always loved their music too! Elizabeth Fraser has one amazing voice & I even liked her work with Massive Attack. I think that was the Mezzanine album that was released towards the end of the nineties. If you haven't heard it, that song alone is almost worth investing in the album. The song may be called "Teardrops"? Oh, I also recommend "This Love" which Fraser recorded with Craig Armstrong to you as well. ;-)
October 15, 2009
We have very similar taste in music because Massive Attack is one of my favorite bands and yes, Teardrops is a really amazing song!  I will have to check out This Love.  Thanks for the recommendations! :)
October 15, 2009
I think that song she did with Craig Armstrong was featured in the film Cruel Intentions so you may have heard it but that's a great song too which really showcases her vocal range. We do have very similar taste in music. As always, you're more than welcome.
August 08, 2009
Way to go! I'm not much of a music fan as you can probably tell by the brevity of my list, so I'm only familiar with a few of thos on your's, I agree with those that I know however.
August 08, 2009
Well, thank you!! Which ones are you familiar with or did you like? I actually wrote down many of yours the other day as I wasn't acquainted with their sound so I still have some homework to do on the females you listed. ;-)~
August 08, 2009
Actually there were 2 on your list I don't care for, Madonna and Stevie Nicks w/o Fleetwood Mac. But the others would be Joplin (obviously), Mitchell, Bjork, Amos, McLachlan, Benatar, O'Connor, Etta James, and Heart. I'd probably consider them more as a duo or even a group though.
August 08, 2009
Wow! You surprised a bit with Amos & Bjork but that's pretty amazing. I definitely could see how you would love Mitchell or James after reviewing your list compilation. ;-0
August 08, 2009
I like 'em, but I'm not crazy about 'em. Know what I mean?
August 08, 2009
When you say like 'em, you mean James & Mitchell? Or Amos & Bjork?
August 10, 2009
The liking would James and Mitchell. "Big Yellow Taxi" is one of those songs I can't get out of my head once I think of it. Now it's going to be in there for days.
August 11, 2009
I think my favorite Joni Mitchell track might be "The Circle Game". I don't have any favs by Etta though.
August 11, 2009
I like that song a lot too. And of course there's always "Chelsea Morning". She had a lot of great material.
August 11, 2009
I'll admit that I'm a bit impartial to Judy Collins' take on her song "Both Sides Now" but lyrically it's a fantastic piece.
August 11, 2009
Granted on both counts.
This list was inspired by:
created a list. August 05, 2009
As usual this list is NOT in any particular order. This is driving me crazy. I've tried 5 or 6 times now to add some text next to Cilla Black and Teresa …
Janis Joplin Barbra Streisand Aretha Franklin Judy Henske Cilla Black
About the list creator
Brian ()
Ranked #28
I've spent years trying to make others happy & not really focusing on what's most important in my own life. Having said that, my own health & security are paramount so now I'm more … more
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