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40 Best Female Rock Singers

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Welcome to the 40 best female rock singers of all time! This list includes some of the most talented and successful women in rock music history. From classic rockers like Janis Joplin to modern-day stars like Taylor Swift, these singers have all made their mark on the industry. So without further ado, let’s get started!

1. Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks is a legend and a hero in the world of rock music. She first rose to fame as the lead singer of Fleetwood Mac and has since gone on to have a hugely successful solo career.

Nicks is known for her powerful vocal performances and her unique songwriting style. She is also considered one of the most influential female rock artists of the 20th century. Her songs have been covered by many artists over the years, and she has won Grammy Awards. No wonder she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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2. Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin was one of the most influential singers of her generation. She was known for her raw and powerful vocal style, as well as her onstage persona. Joplin was a key figure in the 1960s counterculture movement, and her music helped to shape the sound of rock and roll. She died tragically at the age of 27, but her music continues to live on and inspire millions.

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3. Etta James

Etta James was a true pioneer in the world of music. She was one of the first African American singers to find mainstream success, and her impact is still felt today. She was known for her soulful and passionate vocal style, as well as her ability to cross over into different genres. She won multiple Grammy Awards throughout her career and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. She is definitely a powerhouse for the ages.

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4. Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin is a true icon in the world of music. She is often referred to as the “Queen of Soul,” and for good reason. She has had a hugely successful career spanning over six decades. She is known for her powerful vocal performances, as well as her hits like “Respect” and “Chain Of Fools.”

Franklin has won multiple Grammy Awards and was the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. This is a name no one will ever forget.

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5. Tina Turner

Tina Turner is a legend in the world of rock music. She first rose to fame in the 1960s as part of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue and has since gone on to have a hugely successful solo career. She is known for her powerful vocal performances, as well as her high-energy stage show. She has won multiple Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. She is truly an inspiration.

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6. Pink

P!nk is one of the most successful and acclaimed singers of her generation. She first rose to fame in the early 2000s with hits like “Get The Party Started” and “Don’t Let Me Get Me.” She has since gone on to have a hugely successful career, selling over 135 million records worldwide. She is known for her powerful vocal performances and her ability to cross over into different genres. She is highly influential in her activism as well.

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7. Beyoncé

Beyoncé is a global superstar and one of the most successful singers of all time. She first rose to fame as part of the R&B group Destiny’s Child and has since gone on to have a hugely successful solo career. She is known for her powerful vocal performances, as well as her hits like “Crazy In Love” and “ Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It).

In the latter part of her career, Beyoncé has become an advocate for many social justice issues. She is also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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8. Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar is a legend in the world of rock music. She first rose to fame in the late 1970s with her debut album In the Heat Of The Night. She quickly became one of the most successful singers of her generation, thanks to her powerful vocal performances and hits like “Love Is A Battlefield” and “We Belong.”

She has won multiple Grammy Awards and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her music continues to inspire aspiring female musicians all over the world.

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9. Alison Mosshart

Alison Mosshart is a singer, songwriter, and musician best known for her work with the indie rock band The Kills. She first rose to fame in the early 2000s with the release of The Kills’ debut album, Keep On Your Mean Side. She is known for her raw and powerful vocal style, as well as her dark and gritty lyrics. Her truly haunting work is extremely unique and beautiful in its own way.

10. Alanis Morissette

Alanis Morissette is a Canadian singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. Known for her intensely emotional music, she began her career in Canada in the mid-1980s. Her international breakthrough came with her third album, Jagged Little Pill (1995), which topped the charts in several countries and sold more than 33 million copies worldwide. Its lead single, “You Oughta Know,” was included in the 2020 edition of the Rolling Stone as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Morissette has won 14 Juno Awards. She is one of the best-selling female rock artists of all time, with more than 75 million records sold worldwide.

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11. Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple is an American singer-songwriter and pianist. Her debut album, Tidal (1996), was a commercial and critical success and earned her a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for the single “Criminal.” She followed up with When the Pawn… (1999), produced by Jon Brion, which was also a commercial and critical success and earned her a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single “Fast As You Can.”

Her third album, Extraordinary Machine (2005), was released after a six-year delay caused by disagreements with her record label. It received generally positive reviews from music critics. Her fans rallied behind her and pressured the record label for their intolerance of Apple’s wishes.

12. Madonna

Madonna is an iconic American singer, songwriter, actress, and businesswoman. She has been referred to as the “Queen of Pop” since the 1980s and is known for pushing boundaries in mainstream popular music with her songwriting and visuals.

Madonna frequently reinvents her music and image while maintaining autonomy within the recording industry. Although she has sparked controversy throughout her career, her works have been praised by music critics. She is often cited as an influence by other artists, and certainly, she should be. Her work was groundbreaking and still is in many ways.

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13. Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston was an American singer and actress who was one of the best-selling music artists of all time. She released seven studio albums and two soundtrack albums, all of which have been certified by the Recording Industry Association of America. Her crossover appeal on the pop charts as well as her prominence on MTV influenced several African American women artists who followed in her footsteps.

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14. Shirley Manson

Shirley Manson is a Scottish singer, songwriter, musician, and actress. She is the lead vocalist of the alternative rock band Garbage. Her musical career began in her teens when she founded the Edinburgh-based punk band Angelfish.

Manson was known for her strong, independent attitude and her unique voice. She quickly gained media attention for her unconventional style. In 1994, she successfully auditioned for Garbage, becoming the band’s lead singer and contributing to their songwriting. With Garbage, she achieved international success; the band’s second album, Version 2.0 (1998), sold 17 million copies worldwide.

15. Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples is an American rhythm and blues and gospel singer, actress, and civil rights activist who is best known for her work with her family’s band The Staple Singers. She has been a recording and touring artist for over six decades and her music has been influential in the civil rights movement.

Staples was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 10, 1939. She began her singing career with her family in 1950. The Staple Singers signed a recording contract with the Vee-Jay label in 1955, becoming one of the first gospel groups to cross over into the pop market. The group scored their first hit with “Uncloudy Day” in 1956.

The Staple Singers continued to record and tour throughout the 1960s and 1970s, becoming an important part of the Civil Rights Movement. Staples’ solo career began in 1969 with the release of her debut album Mavis Staples.

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16. Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, actress, and producer. Born in Newark, New Jersey, she first came to prominence with her hip-hop album All Hail the Queen (1989). Her subsequent albums, Nature Of A Sista (1991) and Black Reign (1993), were both commercial successes.

Latifah starred in the television series Living Single from 1993 to 1998. She has appeared in a number of films, including Set It Off (1996), Steel Magnolias (1989), Jungle Fever (1991), and Bringing Down The House (2003). In 2014, she played Bessie Smith in the HBO biopic Bessie, for which she won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Television Movie. This woman is truly an icon. A paragon for representing talent and grace.

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17. Amy Lee

Amy Lee is an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. She is the co-founder and lead vocalist of the rock band Evanescence. She has collaborated with such artists as Korn, Seether, and David Hodges. Lee’s voice has been described as “angelic” and “operatic.”

She co-founded Evanescence in 1995 with drummer Ben Moody. The band became successful with their debut album, Fallen. Their second album, The Open Door (2006), was also a commercial success.

18. Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani is an American singer, songwriter, and fashion designer. She is the co-founder and lead vocalist of the rock band No Doubt. She has also released several solo albums including Love. Angel. Music. Baby (2004), The Sweet Escape (2006), and This Is What The Truth Feels Like (2016).

Stefani rose to prominence in the early 1990s as the lead singer of No Doubt. The band’s debut album, Tragic Kingdom (1995), was a commercial success, selling more than 16 million copies worldwide. No Doubt’s follow-up albums, Return Of Saturn (2000) and Rock Steady (2001), were also commercially successful. Stefani launched her solo career in 2004 with the release of Love. Angel. Music. Baby.

19. Joan Jett

Joan Jett is an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. She is best known for her work with the rock band The Blackhearts, as well as her solo career. Her hits include “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” and “Crimson And Clover.”

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20. Adele

Adele is an English singer and songwriter. She has won numerous awards, including six Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Brit Award. 

She released her debut album, 19, in 2008. The album was a commercial success, selling more than seven million copies worldwide. Her follow-up album, 21, was even more successful, selling more than 30 million copies and earning Adele numerous awards. In 2015, she released her third album, 25, which broke first-week sales record in both the US and the UK.

21. Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. She has won numerous awards, including Grammy Awards, American Music Awards, and an MTV Video Music Award. 

Keys released her debut album, Songs In A Minor, in 2001. The album was a commercial success, selling more than 12 million copies worldwide and winning her five Grammy Awards. Her follow-up albums, The Diary Of Alicia Keys (2003) and As I Am (2007), were also commercially successful. She has also released several successful singles, including “Fallin'” (2001), “A Woman’s Worth” (2002), and “No One” (2007).

22. Nancy Wilson

Nancy Wilson is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer. She is best known as a member of the rock band Heart, which she co-founded with her sister Ann in 1974. Wilson has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The band’s debut album, Dreamboat Annie (1976), was a commercial success, selling more than three million copies worldwide. Heart would go on to release a string of successful albums, including Little Queen (1977), Dog And Butterfly (1978), and Bebe Le Strange (1980).

23. Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt began her musical career in the late 1960s, releasing her self-titled debut album in 1971. The album was not a commercial success, but her follow-up album, Give It Up (1972), was met with more critical and commercial acclaim. She would go on to release a string of successful albums, including Streetlights (1974), Home Plate (1975), and Sweet Forgiveness (1977).

In the 1980s, Raitt became more involved in political activism, raising money and awareness for a variety of causes. She continued to tour and release albums throughout the 1990s and 2000s, including Green Light (1982), Nine Lives (1986), Longing In Their Hearts (1994), and Souls Alike (2005).

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24. Chrissie Hynde

Chrissie Hynde is an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. She is best known as the lead singer and guitarist of the rock band The Pretenders. The band’s debut album was a commercial and critical success, spawning the hit single “Brass In Pocket.”

In the 1990s, Hynde began to focus on her solo career, releasing her debut album, Stockholm, in 2014. She has since released two more albums, Valve Bone Woe (2017), and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

25. Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell is a Canadian singer, songwriter, and painter. She is best known for her work as a musician in the folk, rock, and jazz genres. She began her musical career in the early 1960s, releasing her debut album, Song To A Seagull, in 1968. The album was not a commercial success, but Mitchell’s follow-up album, Clouds (1969), was met with more critical and commercial acclaim. She would go on to release a string of successful albums, including Ladies Of The Canyon (1970), Blue (1971), and Court And Spark (1974).

In the 1980s, Mitchell began to focus on her painting career, exhibiting her work in a number of galleries. She still continued to release music throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

26. Patti Smith

Patti Smith is an American singer, songwriter, and poet. She is best known for her work as a punk rock musician in the 1970s. She began her musical career in the late 1960s, releasing her debut album, Horses, in 1975. 

Smith had a very successful writing career that dates back to the 1970s. Her most notable work is her memoir, Just Kids, which was released in 2010.

27. Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry began her musical career in the early 1970s as a member of the rock band Blondie. The band’s debut album, Parallel Lines (1978), was a commercial and critical success, spawning the hit singles “Heart Of Glass.” Blondie would go on to create a string of albums, including Eat To The Beat (1979), Autoamerican (1980), and The Curse Of Blondie (2003).

In the 1980s, Harry began to focus on her solo career, releasing her debut album, KooKoo (1981). She has since released five more albums, including Rockbird (1986), Def, Dumb & Blonde (1989), and Debravation (1993).

28. Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge is an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. She is best known for her work as a rock musician in the 1980s and 1990s. Etheridge began her musical career by releasing her self-titled debut album in 1988. The album was a critical and commercial success, spawning the hit singles “Bring Me Some Water” and “No Souvenirs.” She would go on to release many successful records, including Never Enough (1992), Yes I Am (1993), and Your Little Secret (1995).

In the 2000s, Etheridge began to focus on her activism, campaigning for a number of causes including same-sex marriage and environmentalism. She has continued to release music throughout the 2010s, including Fearless Love (2010), 4th Street Feeling (2012), and The Medicine Show (2019).

29. Jewel

Jewel is an American singer and songwriter. She is best known for her work as a pop music artist in the 1990s and 2000s. She began her musical career by releasing her debut album, Pieces Of You, in 1995. The album was a rousing success, as it contained the hit singles “Who Will Save Your Soul” and “You Were Meant For Me.” She went on to create several successful albums, including Spirit (1998), This Way (2001), and 0304 (2003).

30. Brenda Lee

Brenda Lee is an American singer and songwriter. She is best known for her work as a country music artist in the 1960s. 

Lee began her musical career by releasing her debut album, Brenda Lee, in 1959. The album was a critical and commercial success, spawning the hit singles “Sweet Nothin’s” and “I’m Sorry.” She would go on to release a string of successful albums, including Sincerely (1962), All Alone Am I (1963), and Emotions (1967).

31. Zola Taylor

Zola Taylor was an American singer and actress. She is best known as a member of the R&B group The Platters. Taylor began her musical career in the early 1950s as a member of this group. Their debut album was a commercial triumph, creating the hit singles “Only You” and “The Great Pretender.” The group would go on to release a string of successful albums, including Remember When? (1958) and The Magic Touch (1962).

In the 1970s, Taylor began to focus on her acting career, appearing in a number of films and television shows. She retired from the entertainment industry in the late 1970s and passed away in 2007.

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32. Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is an American singer and songwriter. She is best known for her work as a country music artist in the 2000s and 2010s. She began her musical career in the early 2000s, releasing her self-titled debut album in 2006. The album was a critical and commercial success, spawning the hit singles “Tim McGraw” and “Our Song.” She would go on to release a string of successful albums, including Fearless (2008), Speak Now (2010), and Red (2012).

In the 2010s, Swift began to focus on her pop music career, releasing her album 1989 in 2014. The album was a critical and commercial success, spawning the hit singles “Shake It Off” and “Bad Blood.” Swift has continued to release music throughout the 2010s and early 2020s, including Reputation (2017), Lover (2019), and Evermore (2020).

33. Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown was an American singer and songwriter. She is best known for her work as a rhythm and blues artist in the 1950s. 

She began her musical career by releasing her debut album, Miss Rhythm, in 1955. The album was a critical and commercial success, spawning the hit singles “Get Up” and “Rockin’ With My Baby.” Brown would go on to release a string of successful albums, including Rockin’ With Ruth Brown (1957), Love Has Taken Me Over (1959), and The Soul Of Ruth Brown (1961).

34. Lisa Loeb

Lisa Loeb is an American singer and songwriter. She is best known for her work as a pop music artist in the 1990s.

She began her musical career by releasing her debut album, Tails, in 1992. Her top hit from that album was “Stay (I Missed You).” Loeb would go on to release a string of successful albums, including Firecracker (1997), No Fairy Tale (2013), and Feel What U Feel (2017).

35. Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson is an American singer and songwriter. She is best known for her work as a pop music artist in the early 2000s. She has won three Grammy Awards, four American Music Awards, and two Academy of Country Music Awards.

Clarkson began her musical career by releasing her debut album, Thankful, in 2003. Two of her hit singles from the album include “Miss Independent” and “A Moment Like This.” She would go on to release a string of successful albums, including Breakaway (2004), My December (2007), and Stronger (2011). Now, she is the successful host of the Kelly Clarkson Show.

36. Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood is an American singer and songwriter. She is best known for her work as a country music artist in the 2000s and 2010s. She has won seven Grammy Awards, 23 Billboard Music Awards, and 14 Academy of Country Music Awards.

Underwood began her musical career by releasing her debut album, Some Hearts, in 2005. Some of her most popular hit singles include “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats.” She would go on to release a string of successful albums, including Carnival Ride (2007), Blown Away (2012), and Storyteller (2015).

37. Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow is an American singer and songwriter. She began her musical career in the early 1990s, releasing her debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club, in 1993. Some of her top hit singles from the album are “All I Wanna Do” and “Leaving Las Vegas.” She would go on to release a string of successful albums, including Sheryl Crow (1996), The Globe Sessions (1998), and C’mon, C’mon (2002).

38. Missy Elliot

Missy Elliott is an American rapper, singer, and songwriter. She is best known for her work as a hip hop artist in the 1990s and 2000s. She has won five Grammy Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, and two BET Awards.

Elliott began her musical career by releasing her debut album, Supa Dupa Fly, in 1997. The album was a critical and commercial success, spawning the hit singles “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” and “Sock It 2 Me.” She went on to create a string of powerful records, including Da Real World (1999), Miss E… So Addictive (2001), and Under Construction (2002).

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39. Liz Phair

Liz Phair is an American singer and songwriter. She began her musical career in the early 1990s, releasing her debut album, Exile In Guyville, in 1993. The album was a critical and commercial success, spawning the hit single “Supernova.” She would go on to release a string of successful albums, including Whip-Smart (1994), Liz Phair (2003), and Funstyle (2010).

40. Carly Simon

Finally, we have Carly Simon. She is an American singer and songwriter. She is best known for her work as a pop music artist in the 1970s and 1980s. 

She began her musical career by releasing her debut album in 1971. It contained the hit singles, “That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” and “Anticipation.” Simon would go on to release many successful albums and singles, including No Secrets (1972), Hotcakes (1974), and Coming Around Again (1987).

So there you have it, our picks for the 40 best female rock singers of all time. It was definitely a tough decision narrowing it down to just 40, but we think we got it just right.

These women have achieved incredible success in the music industry and continue to inspire fans around the world with their amazing talent. Who is your favorite female rock singer?

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