The 70s were undoubtedly a fantastic time for music. From disco to jazz to rock, there are some singers that just stand the test of time. Read along to see the 21 famous 70s female singers who have produced timeless music that moves through the decades.
1. Stevie Nicks
No one illuminated their way into the music industry in the 70s quite like Stevie Nicks. While she originally gained fame to her name as the bewitching lead singer of Fleetwood Mac, she went on to release multiple solo albums and partner with a myriad of other amazing vocal artists as well.
In fact, Nicks is the first woman to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice throughout her musical career—first, as a member of Fleetwood Mac, and second, as a solo artist. With her enchanting vocals, it’s no secret that she essentially became an overnight success, and she still maintains her reputation as a lyrical prodigy to this day.
2. Linda Ronstadt
Linda Ronstadt sprinted her way into the music industry in the mid-70s and certainly didn’t lose steam shortly after. In fact, in the 70s alone, she released 8 studio albums. She has also earned 11 Grammys throughout her musical career.
In addition to these honors, she has also received 3 American Music Awards, 2 Academy of Country Music Awards, an Emmy, and an ALMA Award. Many of Ronstadt’s fans describe her sound as “West Coast Rock,” because it’s a seamless, lovely mix of rock, folk, and country. While she is now retired, her music continues its timeless float.
While Cher’s career started in the 60s, she really picked up speed in the 70s. She hit number one on the charts in 1966 from her “I Got You Babe” duet with Sonny Bono, and her career only sprang forward from there.
There’s a reason why she has been referred to as the “Goddess of Pop”—she was one of the first females to pave her way as a strong female voice in a largely male-dominated field, and her voice can still be heard ringing throughout the music and entertainment scene.
4. Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton’s debut album Hello, I’m Dolly announced her entrance into the music industry in 1967. Throughout her musical career, she received certified gold, platinum, and multi-platinum awards through the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Not only that, Parton has had 25 of her songs reach number 1 on the Billboard country music charts, an honor only shared with another esteemed female singer, Reba McEntire.
5. Reba McEntire
We couldn’t mention Dolly Parton without also mentioning Reba McEntire! A fellow country singer, she also shares the score for 25 songs at number 1 on the Billboard country music charts.
McEntire broke into the music industry in 1974 when she sang the national anthem at the 1974 rodeo finals, which sparked the beginning of an extremely successful music career. In fact, she has even been named “best female vocalist” by the Country Music Association time and time again.
6. Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin gained fame during the golden age of soul music in the 60s, but her music continued to warm the ears of listeners throughout the 70s as well. She has been referred to as the “Queen of Soul” due to her musical advancements. She has been placed ninth two separate times in Rolling Stone’s list of “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” and placed first in the same magazine’s list of “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.”
With over 75 million records sold globally, Franklin has undoubtedly earned her title as one of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time.
7. Liza Minnelli
Liza Minnelli is a natural-born performer who shook the stage with her presence in the 60s and continued her rise in popularity throughout the decades to come.
As a powerful alto singer, it comes as no surprise that she is one of just a rare handful of artists to have been awarded an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. A true star, Minnelli continues to grace screens with her personality.
8. Kate Bush
Kate Bush is an artist with an extremely interesting background. She quite literally paved her own way into the music scene in 1978 with the release of her debut single “Wuthering Heights,” which stayed at the top of the UK Singles Chart for the next four weeks. This is the first time a female artist had ever topped the UK charts with a self-written song!
Her unique sound and artistry have awarded her the title of “Queen of Art-Pop.” In fact, her song “Wuthering Heights” ranked 32nd in Q Magazine’s list of “Top 100 Singles of All Time.”
9. Barbara Streisand
The beginning of Barbara Streisand’s acclaimed career was in 1964 when she set foot on Broadway stages for her lead role in Funny Girl. A born superstar, her vocals and performances have led her to a myriad of successes.
In fact, along with Liza Minelli (mentioned above), Streisand is also one of just a few elite artists to have earned an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony for performance efforts. With several decades of esteemed success, it’s no surprise that she has become one of the entertainment industry’s most beloved artists.
10. Olivia Newton-John
From stages to TV screens, Olivia Newton-John definitely made her name as an artist in the 70s. She released her debut album If Not for You in 1971 and has had five number 1 hits throughout her career.
Newton-John is a four-time Grammy award winner and will always be held in high esteem for her starring role as Sandy in the 1978 box-office-grossing film Grease.
11. Patti LaBelle
While Aretha Franklin is known as the “Queen of Soul” (see above), Patti LaBelle is known as the “Godmother of Soul.” She began her career in the early 60s when she sang lead vocals for the group Patti LaBelle And The Bluebells, and she began making music as a solo artist in the 70s after the group split.
Over the last several decades, LaBelle has sold over 50 million records worldwide. Her artistry has been featured in the Grammy Hall of Fame, Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Black Music & Entertainment Walk of Fame, and the Apollo Theater Hall of Fame.
12. Janis Ian
Folk singer Janis Ian gained most of her success during the 60s and 70s. She is most known for her signature songs “Society’s Child” (1966) and “At Seventeen” (1975).
Ian has won two Grammy Awards for her work as a vocal artist, and her album Society’s Child won the award for Best Spoken Word Album in 2013.
13. Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell is an eclectic artist who blends characteristics of folk, pop, rock, classical, and jazz into her work. Her songs go deeper than being catchy; in fact, she reflects many of her philosophical ideals on romance and womanhood into her music as well.
During her music career, Mitchell earned ten Grammys and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone has also referred to her as “one of the greatest songwriters ever.”
14. Suzi Quatro
Suzi Quatro is best known for her string of hit singles throughout the 70s that earned her a number 1 spot on the UK and Australian billboards. Her self-titled debut album was released in 1973, and after that, she went on to release 15 studio albums, 10 compilation albums, and one live album.
Quatro was also awarded six Bravo Otto throughout her musical career and was also voted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Online Hall of Fame in 2010. Since the beginning of her career, she has sold over 50 million records across the globe.
15. Judy Collins
Judy Collins is an eclectic artist with folk roots who began her musical career when she released her first solo album in 1961, and she only continued to rise in popularity throughout the 70s.
If you’ve heard her music, you may not be surprised to hear that Collins is a piano prodigy, which influences much of her music. Her entire discography consists of 36 studio albums, 9 live albums, 4 holiday albums, a myriad of compilation albums, and 21 singles.
16. Bonnie Tyler
Bonnie Tyler’s fame was sparked with the release of her 1977 album, The World Starts Tonight. Her 1978 single “It’s a Heartache” ended up ranking number 4 on the UK Singles Chart and number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
While she may have gained most of her fame during the 80s with songs like “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Holding Out for a Hero,” the 70s paved the way for her success and got her name established with a bang throughout the music industry.
17. Ella Fitzgerald
An American jazz singer, Ella Fitzgerald has earned titles as the “Queen of Jazz” and “First Lady of Song.” Many of her fans also refer to her as “Lady Ella.”
She made significant historical advancements throughout the jazz scene and her musical career, and she almost single-handedly popularized scat singing across the U.S. In addition to jazz, her music also incorporates characteristics of swing, blues, bebop, and pop.
18. Donna Fargo
Donna Fargo is known best for her series of singles that made it onto the Top 10 Country Hits of the 70s. She began her career in 1969 and the Academy of Country Music Awards promptly named her “Top New Female Vocalist.”
Many of Fargo’s singles reached certified gold status, and her second album released in 1973 peaked at number 1 on the Top Country Albums chart.
19. Roberta Flack
Roberta Flack is best known for her number 1 singles, “Where is the Love,” “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” “The Closer I Get To You,” “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” and “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face.”
With the soul and power found in her voice, she was awarded not one but two consecutive well-earned Grammys for Record of the Year (one in 1973 and one in 1974).
20. Karen Carpenter
Karen Carpenter began her music career with her brother Richard Carpenter, as they sang and performed as a duo under the name “Carpenters” for many years.
Carpenter also recorded a solo album that would be released after her eventual death in 1983, and Rolling Stone added her to a 2010 list of “100 greatest singers of all time.”
21. Diana Ross
Last but certainly not least on our list of 21 best female singers of the 70s is Diana Ross. She rose to fame as the lead singer of the girl group known as The Supremes, which became known as one of the world’s best girl groups of all time—in terms of both sales and talent.
While she may have started out singing in a girl group, she also went on to become known as one of the world’s best female solo artists of all time. She has earned achievements such as the Special Tony Award, the Kennedy Center Honors, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
We would like to note that while all artists on this list are by no doubt exceptionally talented, it is by no means comprehensive. Each decade produces a myriad of eclectic genres, sounds, and artists, so it would be near impossible to list all of the female vocalists of the 70s who made an impact on the music industry.
Do you love the 70s as much as we do? If so, we hope you found some entertainment in this list of entertainers and that we were able to help you expand your knowledge of music culture.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.