Top Twenty Favourite Female Vocalists (11 to 20)

Part two (of two) of my list of top twenty favourite female vocalists:

11) Minnie Riperton

Minnie-Ripperton

Type: Lyric coloratura soprano

Definitely one of the most pleasing voices I’ve ever heard, Minnie had a very soothing tone that you could listen and relax to all day. Her technique was impeccable, having been classically trained, and she is one of the pioneers of the mastering the whistle register.

12) Chaka Khan

Chaka-Khan

Type: Dramatic mezzo

What I love about Chaka Khan is that as a mezzo with a usually dark voice, she still has such a big voice that is able of hitting notes that some sopranos couldn’t even reach, even if some of them sound rather screechy. As the long-reigning Queen of Funk, she has inspired the likes of Whitney, Mary J Blige and Anastacia (who sounds a lot like her, just not as good).

13) Céline Dion

Celine-Dion

Type: Lyric soprano?

One of the best technical singers alongside Mariah, Céline has the utmost control over her almost operatic-like voice, that is rarely surpassed by anyone else. Her best performances are of course of her big ballads, where she shows off her instrument well, although I’m not a huge fan of her uptempo songs or when she covers other people’s songs. The reason I’ve ranked Céline so low is mainly because her nasal tone grates a bit too much.

14) Etta James

Etta-James

Type: Coloratura contralto?

What separated Etta James from other jazz and blues singers back in the day in the 1950s and 60s was her unique and influential style of singing, which consisted of mixing jazz, blues, soul and gospel genres with rock and roll and her trademark grunts, growls and raspy tone. She was a very emotive singer, more so than a technical one, and was great at improvising when singing live. Many of her predecessors include Christina, Bey, Adele and Janis Joplin.

15) Lauryn Hill

Lauryn-Hill

Type: Low lyric mezzo?

The fact that Lauryn Hill no longer makes music is a sad situation in today’s industry, especially after the success of her debut solo album and her work with the Fugees. She was a fabulous singer who mixed her gospel roots (which she showed off in Sister Act 2) and old-school soul and funk with modern-day R&B and hip-hop, something that has rarely been seen or heard on the scene. Even though it is sad she decided to indefinitely retire from music, you’ve gotta do nothing buy bow down to someone who released just one big album and has become a legend because of it.

16) Tina Turner

Tina-Turner

Type: Dramatic mezzo

What makes Tina Turner so incredible is her ability and power throughout her whole voice; manly low notes, strong hight belts and has a good head voice too. Tina defined herself as a great soulful rock singer and although her upper belts can sound really harsh and forced, you gotta love her gutsy deliveries and give nothing but the utmost respect to a woman who can still sing so well in her seventies.

17) Patti Labelle

Patti-Labelle

Type: Dramatic soprano

I’ve mentioned quite a few belters in this list, but while they can belt it out really well, none do it better than the Queen herself, Miss Patti Labelle. Some criticise her belting as overdone screaming, but if she’s still able to do it now in her late sixties, surely she’s doing something right? Her best performances have always been when she covers other artists’ songs, injecting her own unique style into them while still retaining the musicality and emotion of the song.

18) Mary J Blige

Mary-J-Blige

Type: Dramatic mezzo

One of the most emotive singers out there today, Mary is a great vocalist who has good techniques (bar some pitch problems and strained belts) and a wide range with a lot of power, and I love her deep, rich and husky timbre – she’s a like an even more urban version of Whitney.

19) Cher

Cher

Type: Lyric contralto

Many people probably think of Cher as more of a performer than anything else, which of course she is, and a very good one. But she is also a great vocalist who is highly underrated, making her stand out against her contemporaries such as Madonna and Cyndi Lauper, who are also more known for their dramatic and ever-changing looks than anything else. Cher has a deep, warm timbre to her voice but is also a fantastic belter, with a good technique, making me wonder why so many people still overlook her as a vocalist. She’s also very versatile as an artist, having covered many different genres, and very well too, may it be said.

20) Alicia Keys

Alicia-Keys

Type: Low lyric mezzo

As an overall artist, Alicia is amazing. Her songwriting and musical skills are brilliant and her voice has a husky and soulful tone to it. Although it must be said she isn’t always the most consistent live performer, I’m always more compelled to listen to the emotive way in which she tells a song rather than the way she sings it, which is sometimes pitchy and strained. Her lower register however, is always pleasant and sultry to listen to.

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11 Responses to “Top Twenty Favourite Female Vocalists (11 to 20)”

  1. All great singers. Minnie Ripperton’s whistle register is just overwhelming–in a good way.
    –JW

  2. samuel eki Says:

    You got some vocal faches wrong. Celine Dion is a lyric soprano. She’s always mistaken for a mezzo, in fact she thought herself a mezzo until her first producer asked her to sing opera and remarked “You only sang soprano”. Alicia keys is not a low lyric mezzo (there’s nothing of the sort) but rather possesses a contralto range. Lauryn Hill also possesses a contralto range. oprano range. Be careful how you use coloratura and such terms as they do not apply to non-classical singers. Etta James might possess a mezzo-soprano range. Her growls and grunts does not confine her and she possesses some mezzo qualities when singing without them. You should check wikipedia for vocal types of your fave artistes and not ‘dish-water’ sites.

    • Thanks for the info on Celine. However although I’m aware Alicia and Lauryn possess the range of a typical contralto, their actual voice types are not that of one as contraltos have manly, androgynous voices with a thick weight to them throughout their range, but both of them are able to lift that weight and sound lighter and more feminine the higher they go. By low lyric mezzo I mean a lyric mezzo with a lower than normal tessitura – one that is similar to a contralto but not quite.

      Also, although I am not a proper voice expert, my friend who helped me with this is and I didn’t use Wikipedia, I gathered information and opinions from sites and those who are far more knowledgeable about vocals the best I could.

      • samuel eki Says:

        Do you mean a contralto-mezzo voice for low lyric mezzo? It means a singer with an intermediate voice range. The contralto-mezzo may have an extensive lower range but may not sing as low as a contralto. May also have an extensive upper range but not as high as the mezzo-soprano. I hope you did not visit the sites of some 16-year old male soprano who calls everyone from Adele to Katy Perry soprano or some music teacher who uses terms such as full soprano or deep contralto. And oh, Minnie is a coloratura soprano. She was trained by Marion Jeffery.
        Not all contralto singer possess androgynous or masculine voices. You can find lighter voiced contralto singers, even in classical genres such as Kathleen Ferrier, Irina can’t-pronounce-or-spell-her-last-name, etc. You’d surprised at the number of contraltos who have thrilling high notes. The contralto fach doesn’t necessarily mean a masculine voice, it refers to singers whose tessitura reside in their lower register or are more comfortable singing in their lower ranges. It doesn’t mean they can’t sing high notes too. There’s a remarkable contralto I know whose high notes are comparable to a soprano. Unfortunately, she hasn’t gone professional yet.

      • I’ve never heard anyone call Adele or Katy Perry a soprano. I don’t know exactly what Adele is (contralto or mezzo) but Katy Perry surely isn’t a contralto as I have read many people believing she is. But yes, a contralto-mezzo voice describes those kind of singers better.

  3. samuel eki Says:

    Adele is a contralt. I like to think Katy Perry is a contralto too

    • I’m unsure about Adele but I would say Katy isn’t – she’s more of a lyric mezzo. Her low notes aren’t strong enough to be a contralto, shouldn’t contraltos be able to as low as C3 with ease and with proper support, she’s pretty iffy down there (and in general tbh). But then again, I’m not a fan so don’t really listen to her.

      • Shawn Geller Says:

        You’re right. Katy Perry is a lyric mezzo, perhaps a soprano without proper training, like Rihana. Adele is definitely a lyric mezzo with a darker timbre. A true contralto timbre has a manly quality, androgynous looks, which do not know if it’s a man or a woman singing. Cher is a great example. There is a singer named Annie Lennox who also has the attributes of a real contralto. Tracy Chapman would fit well.

      • I don’t think Katy could handle the higher range or agility required of a soprano. I don’t know a lot of Tracy Chapman stuff but I’ve also got Heather Small on another post – definitely a contralto, and probably Britain’s only (famous) one.

  4. Shawn Geller Says:

    I know the media have reported for many years that Minnie Riperton is a lyric coloratura, but I have my doubts. She has the range of a coloratura, but her agility is second class compared to Mariah Carey and Debelah Morgan. To me, it sounds more like a light lyric soprano, who also has agility in florid passages by having a more velvety voice. Whatever it was, it was incredible.

    • She had coloratura abilities but yes, overall definitely a light lyric soprano, no doubt. Her agility was really good though, I think, not sure if she showcased it as much though.

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