19 Famous Female Singers of the ’60s and ’70s

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The 1960s and 1970s were revolutionary eras for modern music that introduced fans to new and improved genres. Disco, pop, jazz, and folk music saw a rise in popularity and opened up opportunities for many timeless singers to make it big in the industry. 

Many talented female singers have made important contributions to the evolution of music during these eras. To show our appreciation and love for them, we’ll be taking a look at some of the biggest female singers of the ’60s and ’70s. 

The Famous Female Singers of the ’60s and ’70s

Janis Joplin

Despite her short career, Joplin was one of the most successful contributors to the development of the rock and roll and blues genre. 

Dubbed the Queen of Rock and Roll, she paved the way for plenty of women in rock and was known for her powerful mezzo-soprano voice. 

Though she had a short life, she remains one of the top-selling musicians in the US and has left a permanent mark on music throughout the 20th century. 

Aretha Franklin 

Widely known as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin is an artist that inspired many musicians. 

Franklin started singing gospel as a child at Detroit’s New Bethel Baptist Church. From there, she went on to develop her vocals and style to become one of the best singers of soul music. 

Her first chart-topping hit was “Respect,” a song originally written by Otis Redding. She took the track and put her own spin on it, changing it into an empowering feminist anthem. 

Cher 

With her dynamic contralto voice, stylish fashion styles, and various talents, it’s no surprise Cher is referred to as the Goddess of Pop. 

Since her debut in 1965 with her husband Sonny, she’s had a great impact on the music industry, considering her career has lasted six decades long. 

She’s also the pioneer of the “Cher Effect,” which is the use of autotune to distort one’s vocals. The effect was first featured in her 1998 album Believe

Reba McEntire 

Reba McEntire is a popular name in the country music scene, often dubbed the Queen of Country. Aside from sticking to the traditional country sound, she’s also expanded it into other genres like country-pop and R&B. 

Most of her songs and vocal styles have been inspired by the likes of other famous female artists like Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton. 

McEntire also has a huge hand in philanthropism, pioneering Reba’s Ranch House in Texas, which provides holistic care to guests. 

Diana Ross

When it comes to naming female artists from the ’60s, there’s no way we could leave out Diana Ross. 

She started her career as the leader of the group the Supremes before departing in 1970 and becoming one of the biggest singers in history. 

Ross was also an actress and received numerous recognitions for it, including Golden Globe Awards and Academy Awards. 

Barbra Streisand 

Since her debut in nightclubs and Broadway theaters in the 1960s, Streisand’s lilting voice has come a long way in her decades-long career. 

While she stood the most out as a singer, she was also a commendable actress and redefined the portrayal of ethnic urban characters in media in the ’60s and ’70s. 

An outspoken woman, Streisand dabbled in show business, politics, and philanthropy, receiving many accolades over the years. 

Dusty Springfield

A London-born singer, Springfield’s breathy, haunting vocals set a distinctive standard for the blue-eyed soul genre during the Swinging Sixties in the UK. 

She was known for her blond bouffant, heavy makeup, and stylized evening gowns. Her first hit was the upbeat single “I Only Want to Be With You,” which launched her career in late 1963. 

Springfield skyrocketed in success with her 1968 album Dusty in Memphis, which contained one of her best-known works, “Son of a Preacher Man.”

Brenda Lee

Brenda Lee started her singing career as a child in Atlanta and was given the nickname “Little Miss Dynamite” for her larger-than-life vocals. 

Her most successful hits are “I’m Sorry” (1960) and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” (1958), which have become a Christmas classic. 

In the early 1970s, she branched out into country music, topping charts with her 1973 track “Nobody Wins.” 

Liza Minnelli 

Born to singer and actress Judy Garland, Minnelli was able to step out of her mother’s shadow and begin a significant career as a musician and actress in 1961. 

She was a one-of-a-kind performer, with her powerful alto-singing voice and charismatic stage presence. Minnelli is one of the few artists to be awarded a Grammy, Emmy, Oscar, and Tony. 

Billie Davis 

Though Davis wasn’t as popular after the ’60s, she had a profound effect on the fashion, music, and culture of that era. 

Debuting in 1963 at the age of 17, she released one of her biggest hits, “Tell Him.” Her other number-one single would be her song in 1968, “I Want You to Be My Baby.”

Davis also had a pretty recognizable style synonymous with the ’60s, which included bobbed hair, leather mini-skirts, and long boots popularized by the UK TV series The Avengers

Stevie Nicks 

Stevie Nicks first gained fame as the enchanting vocalist of the 1970s band Fleetwood Mac. That said, she released multiple solo albums and collaborated with other amazing artists on the side. 

A talented musician, Nicks’s influence on the music industry is undeniable, considering that she’s the first woman to have been inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

She has been cited as a source of influence and inspiration by many modern artists, including Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, and Taylor Swift. 

Etta James 

Since her debut at a young age, James was already making a name for herself in the ’50s as an R&B and doo-wop singer. 

With her rich contralto voice, she’s released a few hits like “The Wallflower,” “At Last,” “I’d Rather Go Blind,” and “Tell Mama.”

Throughout her career, James’s musical styles constantly changed as she broke out into pop, jazz, and soul. 

Ella Fitzgerald 

Dubbed the Queen of Jazz and First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald was an important name in the jazz scene. 

She was well known for her impressive vocal quality and range and her notable use of scat singing during her performances. 

Fitzgerald also released multiple songbooks, which are considered some of America’s priceless recording treasures. 

Bonnie Tyler 

Bonnie Tyler started to gain popularity in the 1970s with her first hit “It’s a Heartache,” which peaked at number three in the United States.

As she ventured into the rock genre in the ’80s, her career continued to soar with number-one songs like “Holding Out for a Hero” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

Patti LaBelle 

Patti LaBelle began her career as the lead singer of the group Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles, which helped propel her to fame after their split. 

Dubbed the Godmother of Soul, LaBelle was well known for her powerful soprano voice. She was responsible for many great hits like “Lady Marmalade,” “New Attitude,” and “Stir It Up.”

Nina Simone 

With aspirations of becoming a pianist, Simone worked in a nightclub in Atlantic City, which was also where her career as a jazz vocalist started. 

Blending several styles, including classical, blues, and gospel, she had a unique gravelly voice that allowed her to croon and belt out songs like no one else. 

Lesley Gore 

Lesley Gore was only 16 when she was discovered, and by then she had already published her first hit, 1963’s “It’s My Party.” 

Gore was ahead of her time as most of her songs were feminist-focused in nature and set an example for many coming female singers. 

Joni Mitchell

A singer, songwriter, and painter, Joni Mitchell was one of the definitive voices of folk music. She was recognized for her sweet voice and acoustic guitar accompaniment. 

Mitchell was also one of the first female musicians to be truly recognized and respected, especially in an era where the music scene was typically dominated by men. 

Some of her notable hits include “Woodstock,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” and “Both Sides Now,” which have been covered by various artists. 

Patsy Cline 

Patsy Cline is one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century. With her sweet, expressive voice, she helped shape the country scene in the 1960s. 

Cline was responsible for paving the way for women in country music and was the first female performer to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

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