The 15 Most Popular Black Female Singers Of All TIme

June 18, 2014  |  
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Powerhouse voices, big hair, smooth dance moves, glamorous dresses, beautiful songwriting, torch songs, female empowerment, fierceness, diva attitude and breaking down barriers in the music industry are what black women in the music industry represent.

Now many black female legends have touched the hearts of others and moved generations with their music and artistry — from the gospel of Mahalia Jackson; the lady blues of Billie Holiday; the soulful sounds that get you caught up in a rapture with Anita Baker; the bridging the gap of R&B, and Rock and Roll of Etta James; the soulful leadership of Gladys Knight; the powerful vocals of Patti Labelle; and the eclectic, political sounds of Nina Simone.

Many of today’s black female artists owe a debt of gratitude to their foremothers. Some of those foremothers made it on this lists and some of today’s artists made it on this list because of how these black women managed to overcome so many obstacles and reach the top.

In celebration of Black Music Month, MadameNoire compiled a list of 15 black women in music who managed to become some of the most popular solo acts in music ever! This list is based on record sells (albums and singles), longevity, legacy and overall popularity in both mainstream and urban-marketed music.

Chaka Khan


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Chaka Khan

She’s the Queen of Funk. All of her hits (including with Rufus) have a soulful yet funky sound to it — explaining honorific title. And  she has the Grammys to prove it.

Notable Hits:

“Sweet Thing”

“Tell Me Something Good”

“I’m Every Woman”

“I Feel For You”

Aaliyah


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Aaliyah

She left behind quite the legacy. Many artists sampled her and so many more tried to be like her and LOOK like her. She garnered her honorific title posthumously. She’s the Queen of Urban Pop.

Notable Hits:

“Back and Forth”

“One in a Million”

“Try Again”

Dionne Warwick


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Dionne Warwick

The smooth sounds of Warwick dominated the music charts during the rock era. She’s the second most charted female singer of the rock era behind Aretha Franklin. She has 56 charted singles to her name.

Notable Hits:

“Don’t Make Me Over”

“Walk On By”

“I Say a Little Prayer”

Toni Braxton


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Toni Braxton

Braxton is a true diva. Maybe too much of a diva with all her past money issues. But although she lived an extravagant lifestyle, she has so many hits under her belt and multi-platinum albums as well.

Notable Hits:

“Breathe Again”

“Let It Flow”

“You’re Makin’ Me High”

“Un-Break My Heart”

Alicia Keys


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Alicia Keys

She burst on the scene with “Fallen” in 2001 and picked up five Grammys with her debut album. Since, she released more hit singles and albums, and is one of Billboard’s top 100 artists of all time.

Notable Hits:

“Fallen”

“If I Ain’t Got You”

“No One”

Mary J. Blige


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Mary J. Blige

Her music touched a generation of women through her pain and survival. Now she’s one of the greatest artists of the R&B/hip hop era. And she came on the scene during a time when Hip Hop and R&B music were crossing over — creating a whole new sub-genre of urban music. She’s the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, after all.

Notable Hits:

“Real Love”

“Not Gon’ Gry”

“Family Affair”

“Be With You”

Beyoncé


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Beyoncé

She proven her status as Queen Bey time and time again. But it’s safe to say no one would ever doubt her icon again ever since she released her fifth album as a surprise with no promotion and much success. She’s today’s Michael Jackson. There, I said it.

Notable Hits:

“Crazy in Love”

“Irreplaceable”

“Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It”

“Drunk in Love”

(Many More)


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Rihanna

She’s pop and urban music’s bad girl. And she’s been on her way to iconic status ever since she was a good girl gone bad. Now she’s surpassed Whitney Houston with number one hits and is tied with Michael Jackson with a total of 13 number pop hits. This is not bad, considering she’s short of just a decade into her career.

Notable Hits:

“Umbrella”

“Take a Bow”

“We Found Love”

(Many more)

 

Diana Ross


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Diana Ross

Miss Ross is the Boss. In 1993, she was named the most successful female artist by the Guinness Book of World Records. And that only makes sense because even before going solo, she reigned as the top Supreme with 12 number one hits. Take a look at the array of number ones from her solo career below.

Notable Hits:

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”

“Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)”

“Upside Down”

“I’m Coming Out”

“Endless Love”

 


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Tina Turner

Turner is the Queen of Rock… and the Queen of Legs.  Not only is she a queen but she’s a survivor who’s proven that you don’t have to be too old to make a comeback or be sexy. She’s the epitome of rock and roll.

Notable Hits:

“Proud Mary”

“Private Dancer”

“What’s Love Got to Do with It”

 

Aretha Franklin


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Aretha Franklin

Everyone knows who is the Queen of Soul. She’s one of the most awarded female artists of all time and definitely one of the most respected — dominating soul music in the 60s and 70s with one of the greatest voices ever.

Notable Hits:

“Respect”

“Chain of Fools”

“Think”

“I Never Love a Man (The Way I Love You)”

Janet Jackson


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Janet Jackson

Janet, Miss Jackson if you’re nasty is the second best selling artist of the 1990s and one of Billboard’s top 10 greatest artists of all time. The Jackson family’s youngest sibling has definitely held her own over the past five decades. Jackson helped break the barriers for black artists crossing over into mainstream music. Also, she succeeded in conceptual albums, visionary music videos and huge world tours.

Notable Hits:

“Rhythm Nation”

“Nasty”

“All For You”

“That’s the Way Love Goes”

(Many more)

Whitney Houston


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Whitney Houston

Houston is truly “The Voice.” And now she’s an angel. Houston not only became black music’s reigning queen, but arguably the Queen of Pop. Also, she’s the most awarded female artist of all time.

 

Notable Hits:

“I Will Always Love You”

“I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”

“Saving All My Love for You”

(Many more)

 

Mariah Carey


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Mariah Carey

Carey tops the list for her vocal range, divaness, iconic songs, songwriting and having more number ones than any other solo artist on the Billboard Hot 100 with a total of 18. She’s sandwiched between The Beatles as the number one musical act (solo or group) and Elvis Presley for number one hits. Also, she’s the greatest and best sell selling artist of the 1990s. Her net worth of $510 million only makes sense, due to her major success.

Notable Hits:

“We Belong Together”

“One Sweet Day”

“Vision of Love”

(Many more)

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Donna Summer

She’s yet another queen on this list. She’s the Queen of Disco. And she remained as such even after Disco died as a genre. Her music has kept generations dancing and will continue to do so.

Notable Hits:

“Love to Love You Baby”

“I Feel Love”

“Last Dance”

“Hot Stuff”

“Bad Girls”

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