Black history month is around the corner and today, we stand here to celebrate the 10 most talented and influential black American female artists ever to walk the earth. These artists belong to a large and diverse array of backgrounds and genres, but their contributions to music and pop culture have made them stand out as the best. The following list of artists performs across genres such as jazz, pop, blues, R&B, and more. However, their goal and vision are the same and that is to enrich the scope of music with their beautiful melodic stream and understanding of music as a whole.
An international artist who rose to fame with her dynamic mix of musical streaks such as contemporary and classic R&B into smooth piano-supported productions. One of her most famous songs is ‘Fallin’ while her debut album called Songs in A Minor also went on to achieve international fame selling over 50,000 copies just within one day of its release back in 2001. Currently, the album holds a sales record of over ten million. Her career spans over 20 years and she has also been actively participating in various social and community works and in uplifting the courage of young women dealing with body image issues.
She may be called the soul of soul music who paved the way for contemporary American pop. Her music was gospel-oriented which made her connect to the audience with a bigger sense of relatability. She was indeed the ‘Queen of Soul’ and is considered to this day as the most influential female artist to have come out of the black community. Over the years of her flourishing career, she came out with many hits which continue to enrich the scope of music as a whole. Jennifer Hudson is set to play her in the upcoming biopic called Respect.
Queen Bae is one of the most popular and recognizable names in the scope of contemporary pop and R&B music. She rose to fame as a member of the music group Destiny’s Child before taking up a solo career. She garnered her multi-platinum record sales and a flourishing career from 2001 onwards and there has been no looking back since. From a line of awards to appreciation, Beyoncé is a figure who emits courage and vocalizes various issues related to the Black community in her music.
Bessie Smith was one of the very first major blues and jazz recording artists who attracted generations with her vocal confidence and power. During her career and her contribution to music, she earned the respected title of ‘The Empress of the Blues’. She recorded as early as 1923 which still resonates the passion in her voice no matter how primitive the recording is. She set the path for many later artists to follow her league and expand music’s cultural evolution to new degrees.
Billie Holiday was also one of the first-ever jazz singers to have garnered a long array of audiences as her true fans. She incorporated a personal touch in her classic blues songs. As a result of her individuality, she pushed jazz towards earning popular accolades and historically changed the history of American pop for good. Her music continues to stir people’s hearts for the passion and straightforwardness of her voice.
This Latin artist is one of the most influential and respected in the industry. She has been nominated for the Grammy awards a whopping ten times. Although she always sang in Spanish, the language difference did not hinder her shot to fame. Among some of her most prestigious awards are the Smithsonian Lifetime Achievement Award, honorary doctorates from the University of Miami and Yale University, and also a National Medal of the Arts award.
Diana Ross was like magic when it came to music and arts. As a black woman, she changed the way how women of color were considered during the thriving era of rock music. She led a successful career in music earning fans from all over the world. She was also the lead singer of the band called the Supremes back in the 1960s which made her success all the more profound and meaningful.
This list is incomplete without the Queen of Disco. Initially, she started as a gospel singer which overlapped with many of her contemporaries. However, she set her motion and popularity apart with her incredible abilities as a songwriter, her stage personality, and her choice of collaborators that collectively and gradually pushed her career towards a sustainable and globally popular one.
Arguably the best female jazz vocal artist of all time, Ella Fitzgerald was called the First Lady of Song, Lady Ella, Queen of Jazz, and more. Her impeccable voice, purity, tone, and everything else related to her composure and honesty made her the best of them all. Music was her outlet for expression and her songs touched the hearts of many over the years. During her career, she released numerous hits that are still considered some of the gems in the historic path of jazz music.
Who can forget Whitney Houston singing ‘And I Will Always Love You’ in the credits of the film Bodyguard and getting teary-eyed with the emotional undulations of her voice? She was one of the best-selling artists of her time. Her vocal power and courage touched the hearts of many people and continues to do so even after she died in 2012.
All their artists have achieved star status in their own accord. These black women have proved that there is a communal difference in art. Their music stands as a harbinger of cultural amalgamation that continues to enrich the scope of the earth and our artistic civilization. Listen to their music and continue to dream big for yourself too.
Alicia Parker is a fashion enthusiast studying at the University of California. She contributes to Daily Music Roll as a music blogger and writes a review of various music on a daily basis