Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Top female singers of the last 50 years ...

My 1969 BBC ticket for "The Dusty Show"
There is a lively debate going on at the gossip site, which I have been contributing to, on the Top 5 female singers of the last 50 years, so those established before then (such as Peggy Lee, Ella, Judy, Lena, Sarah, Billie, Doris etc) are excluded ....

Leading the pack, with my assistance, are these ten: 

Barbra (if only for those first early albums in the early '60s showing how different and stunning she was) and then the stage and screen FUNNY GIRL / Aretha (if only for those great Atlantic years) / Joni (that classic sequence of '70s albums) / Dusty Springfield / Annie Lennox (those great Eurythmics tracks and videos, that solo album DIVA which I practically wore out / Whitney / Dionne / Karen Carpenter / Nina Simone / Donna Summer - and I have been trying to big up Joan Armatrading, but the Americans don't seem to know her ...

Honorable mention: Etta James / Janis Joplin / Laura Nyro / Sade / Carole King (if only for TAPESTRY, another album that became part of one's life) / Carly Simon / Petula Clark / Cleo Laine / Nancy Wilson / Shirley Bassey / Diana Ross / Tina Turner / Roberta Flack / Mary J Blige / Tracy Chapman / Amy Winehouse / Janis Ian / Patsy Cline / Bobbie Gentry, and I would have to add: German diva Billie Ray Martin, Regina Belle, and disco gals like KelisUltra Nate, Adeva, Rosie Gaines, Joyce Sims, Erikah Badu, Angie Stone, Shara Nelson and Janet Jackson (again if only for THE VELVET ROPE, and those terrific remixes, all the way back to "What have you done for me lately").  Some like Janis or Amy Winehouse only lasted a few years, but their legacy is huge. Sade is an interesting case - not much output, an album and tour once every decade, but we still like and play her a lot, and again, what a style icon. I love how she performs PARADISE slinking around the stage in that electrifying tour dvd.

Funny how today's girls like Beyonce, J-Lo, even Madonna are not seen as great singers - despite some great songs and video moments. I personally don't care for Tina Turner, Whitney. Bassey or Diana Ross much myself, but they have to be included in the mix.  There just does not seem to be a comparable list of male singers ... 

Oops, a few more I like and used to play a lot: K D Lang, Linda Ronstadt, Kiri Te Kanawa, Alicia Keys, Gladys Knight ..... and of course recently there was no getting away from Adele or the reclusive Emile Sande (is there any programme she has not been on?) - this could go on and on.


  1. That's a tough task to pick the top 5 except for Barbra, who is too extraordinary to question. I was a bit worried as I was reading through your list with Linda Ronstadt's absence but then she popped up at the end. For me she would be second, my heart broke last week when she announced that her glorious voice had been lost to illness.

    My top 5 today cause the bottom three could be different tomorrow:
    1) Barbra Streisand
    2) Linda Ronstadt
    3) Karen Carpenter
    4) Whitney Houston
    5) Laura Nyro

  2. That's a good list, but of course each will have their own, depending on their memories and record collections and what we grew up with, and what we return to time and time again ////

    5) K D LANG

    Martin Bradley - and I left Nina off the list as I thought her recording career started more than 50 years ago?

  4. Ta for that Martin, interesting list. Lets not be too precise on dates ..... Nina for instance may have began in the 50s, but the bulk of her career was the 60s onwards. Didn't Blossom start in the '50s too .... ?

  5. I posted this list on Facebook and have just been told that both Blossom and Jane Harvey recorded in the fifties (as did Aretha) so take Blossom out, move the others up and my new 9 and 10 are Joan Baez and Mary Chapin Carpenter.

    Martin Bradley

  6. I am not really that precise about this, some may have began in the 50s but really came into their own in the 60s and onwards. Thats my criteria, whereas the likes of Peggy Lee, Ella, Billie, Lena, Sarah etc were already established in the 50s. But lets not split hairs over it.