As the beginnings of Rock turned corners leading itself through its own aging process, it left behind many legends.  One side of its list of legends is the female performer.  Many of them took the self-named route; names like Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Carly Simon, Janis Joplin, Julie London, Joan Baez, Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, Barbra Streisand, Petula Clark, Marianne Faithful, and so many more.  But equally, some of them were parts of a larger unit but still known as a superior performer.  Karen Carpenter (The Carpenters), Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), Margo Timmons (Cowboy Junkies), Patti Smith (The Patti Smith Group), Annie Lennox (Eurythmics), Ann Wilson (Heart), Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac/Solo). Delores O’Riordan (Cranberries), and, again, so many more.

On lesser scales, but no less impressive, were talents like Melanie, Maggie Bell, Janis Ian, Gayle McCormick (A Group Called Smith), Harriet Wheeler (The Sundays), Nico (Velvet Underground – oh, yes, who else sounds like her?) and all the many other female performers that have walked this stage called Rock and Roll.

I have a love for so many of them.  Putting together a list of any kind detailing the Top 5 Female Artists is a tough request but one that I’m asking that you think about and do.

Leave your comments about who makes your Top 5 cut.

[This is part one of a loosely connected 3-part idea.  Two polls that segues into a commentary.  Should be fun (I think).]

By MARowe

36 thoughts on “Female Greats”
  1. 1. Pat Benatar
    2. Melissa Etheridge
    3. Sinéad O’Connor
    4. Stevie Nicks
    5. Madonna (Not rock per say, but since Karen Carpenter was mentioned…)

    So many more are worthy, though choices to make.

  2. 1. Kate Bush – No one compares to her.
    2. Siouxsie Sioux (The Banshees)
    3. Margo Timmons (Cowboy Junkies)
    4. Sinead O’Connor
    5. Harriett Wheeler (The Sundays)

    You’ll notice I don’t have any traditional Singer/Songwriter types on my list (that type of music has not ever appealed to me too much) but without the likes of Carly Simon, Carol King and Tori Amos music would truly suffer.

  3. Sorry. There are simply too many for me to name a top 5. But here are 5 that, theoretically, could amp; should be in anyones top 5, who I am naming because they’ve thus far been overlooked. In no particular order:

    Etta James
    Irma Thomas
    Sandy Denny
    Laura Nyro
    Grace Slick

  4. Streisand
    Janis Ian
    Sinead O’Connor
    Karen Carpenter
    Madonna
    Honorable Mention–Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, Bette Midler, Dusty Springfield, Pat Benatar and Kelly Clarkson

  5. Ronnie Spector (gave both George Harrison amp; Keith Richards school boy crushes)
    Lou Ann Barton (Austinite who contributed to a lot of memorable music as a solo and member of both SRV’s amp; Jimmie Vaughns bands)
    Holly Cole (Canadian jazz pianist amp; vocalist who knows how to interpret the Beatles amp; Tom Waits)
    Cassandra Wilson (another jazz vocalist who knows how to make a rock or blues song her own)
    Amy Winehouse (reinvigorated the charms of soul and Ramp;B)

    I know not all exactly examples of rock’n’roll sirens.

      1. My apologies for spelling “Ronstadt” wrong yesterday… Typing quickly while trying to avoiding doing any work.

  6. In no particular order:

    Stevie Nicks
    Shakira
    Ann Wilson
    Debby Boone (CCM music)
    Chrissie Hynde

  7. 1. Patty Griffin
    2. Emmylou Harris
    3. Lucinda Williams
    4. Diana Krall
    5. Alison Krauss

    A Few Extra:
    -Linda Perry
    -K.D. Lang
    -Kathleen Edwards
    -Norah Jones
    -Natalie Merchant
    -Shelby Lynne
    -Tori Amos

  8. On purely vocal talent:
    Annie Haslem (Rennaissance – 5 octave range!)
    Annie Lennox
    Karen Carpenter
    Joni Mitchell
    Ann Wilson

  9. 1. Kate Bush – incomparable
    2. Linda Ronstadt – best pipes in the biz
    3. Stevie Nicks – what a career, rock goddess
    4. Sarah McLachlan – Fumbling Towards Ecstasy is a phenomenal disc. Underrated live performer as well.
    5. Sinead O’Connor – such a voice

  10. Joan Baez – She is not a rock singer, but no one can deny her influence. Virtually every female singer that followed her from Patti Smith to Bonnie Raitt to Emily Lou Harris has cited her as either a direct or indirect influence.
    Gracie Slick – not actually one of my favorites, but she deserves to be on the list
    Margo Timmons – because she’s one of the great voices in popular music and I’m in love with her
    Aretha Franklin – also not a rock singer, but wildly influential on rock music
    Tina Turner – because she is a rock singer and SHE’S TINA TURNER
    Bonnie Raitt – she’s great

    1. I neglected to mention Bonnie Raitt earlier… How did I (and apparently everyone else here) leave her off? I’m even going to see her perform later this summer. Her new album, Slipstream, is fan-freakin’-tastic. A real return to form for her.

  11. 1. Karen Carpenter
    2. Olivia Newtion John
    3. Carly Simon
    4. Dolores O´Riordan
    5. Sheena Easton

  12. I have to chime in on this one as some of my favorite artists, including my latest musical obsession, are women. My top 5 would be (in no particular order…except #1 on this list is definitely #1).

    1. Patty Griffin
    2. Bonnie Raitt
    3. Fiona Apple
    4. Lisa Hannigan (Damien Rice and Solo)
    5. Beth Gibbons (Portishead)

  13. Just thought I’d mention a couple that haven’t been mentioned…
    Deborah Harry
    Sheryl Crow
    Alanis Morrisette

    Not on my list of 5 either, just thought it odd that no one has mentioned them yet (guess they aren’t worthy).

  14. And I would like to make a mencion to “Debbie Gibson”, that I forgot in my options…

  15. Linda Ronstadt: The definition by which every other singer should be judged by:
    1. Best pipes
    a. power(many have 3 inch thick notes, hers are 3 feet thick)
    b. range(off the charts for a pop-rock singer)
    c. perfect, crystal clear aural tonality
    d. versatility(her versatile voice and body of work is unmatched)
    2. Looks
    a. she could look cute and sweet one moment, then look rough, sexy and naughty the next or even all of those traits at the same time.
    b. those big, beautiful brown eyes or hers.

  16. 1. Sandy Denny with Fairport Convention
    2. Sandy Denny with Fotheringay
    3. Sandy Denny solo
    4. June Tabor with Oysterband
    5. Laura Marling

  17. Ok, here are my Top 5. Dont laugh or throw things at me ;)

    1) Laura Branigan – She had such an amazing voice and was so much more than GLORIA or SELF CONTROL. She was very underrated and was pushed to the side in an era where flash was more than substance. Listen to TOUCH or OVER MY HEART and you will know what I mean
    2) Irene Cara – Another talent. Faded from the spotlight too soon.
    3) Bonnie Tyler – The female Rod Stewart.
    4) Pat Benatar – Best.Rock.Female.Singer.EVER!! If you haven’t done so yet, catch her in concert. Still Rocks and sounds great
    5) Karen Carpenter – Dont even need to go there.

    Extras:
    Olivia Newton John
    Donna Summer
    Diana Ross
    Sheena Easton
    Ann / Nancy Wilson
    Cyndi Lauper
    Madonna
    Debbie Harry

  18. 1. Carly Simon – the most underrated songwriter we have today
    2. Linda Ronstadt – is there anything that she can’t sing?
    3. Kiki Dee – seriously one of the most underrated singers of our time
    4. Helen Reddy – guts and talent
    5. Rosanne Cash – would not let herself be pigeonholed into any one category of music

    In my top 20:
    Janis Ian, Anne Murray, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Patsy Cline, Trisha Yearwood, Karen Carpenter, Joni Mitchell, Cyndi Lauper, Olivia Newton-John, Jennifer Warnes, Bette Midler, Mary-Chapin Carpenter, Kate Taylor, Kim Carnes

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