The world of music has given us many great female singers over the years.
No matter whether you are a fan of rock, jazz, soul, country, or modern pop, it is easy to find a female singer whose voice can move you and produce emotions you may not even realize are there.
With so many great voices to choose from, and given people have different preferences, it is hard to make a definitive ranking of the best female singers of all time. That, however, doesn't mean we wouldn't try.
We decided to choose the best female singers of all time and ranked them from 1 to 40 based on various factors and a bit of personal touch. Take a look at the list below and let us know if you agree and whether you think we left someone out.
40. Doris Day
Doris Day was a woman of many talents, having success as both a singer and an actress. She started her music career with Les Brown & His Band of Renown, before embarking on a solo career that saw her record more than 650 songs and release more than 30 albums.
Day famously said that she was inspired by the singing of Jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald, which obviously did the trick as the iconic American singer Andy Williams once called Day's voice "so fresh you could smell it."
39. Joan Baez
Known for her contemporary and poetic folk music, Joan Baez also included messages of social critic and political protest in her songs. Critics generally say that she is a folk singer, but her music can also be categorized in other genres such as rock, country, jazz, and gospel. Baez used to collaborate with artists such as Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, and many others. She was also one of the first people who recorded Bob Dylan's songs during the 60s.
Some of her most known songs are "Diamonds & Rust," "Farewell, Angelina," "Forever Young," and "Sweet Sir Galahad."
38. Debbie Harry Deborah Ann Harry is a songwriter, model, and lead singer of new wave band Blondie. Before breaking into the music industry, she had a variety of jobs -- waitress, secretary, and Playboy bunny to name a few. Harry formed Blondie in 1974 and two years later, their debut album was released. The band emerged on the scene with hit song "Heart of Glass." After several more successful albums, the group disbanded, and Harry went solo while also pursuing an acting career.
Blondie reformed in 1997, and since then, they have toured the world are were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
37. Cyndi Lauper Cyndi Lauper became popular during the '80s with hits like "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," "Time After Time," "All Through the Night," and more. She is recognizable for her colorful style, open-minded spirit, and a four-octave range. During her career, Lauper released 11 albums, selling 50 million records and 20 million singles.
Lauper is well known for her humanitarian work and support for the LGBT community in the United States. "You always have to remember - no matter what you're told - that God loves all the flowers, even the wild ones that grow on the side of the highway," Lauper said in the book Totally Awesome 80s: A Lexicon of the Music, Videos, Movies, TV Shows, Stars, and Trends of that Decadent Decade.
36. Sarah Vaughan
Known as "The Divine One" and "Sassy," Sarah Vaughan was a jazz singer who won four Grammy Awards with a Lifetime Achievement Award included. She got into music at an early age by listening to her father playing guitar and piano and her mother, who was a singer in a choir. During her teenage years, she used to sneak into night clubs and sing and play the piano.
Vaughan recorded more than 50 studio albums, most famous being At Mister Kelly's, Crazy & Mixed Up, and In The Land Of Hi-Fi. Some critics referred to her as "one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century."
35. Sia Furler
Better known as Sia, Furler developed her career in many fields besides singing, including video directing, voice acting, and songwriting. Early in her music career she used to be an acid jazz singer in a band named Crisp in her native Australia before moving to London and then New York to try and make it on her own. After years of struggles, she released the albums Some People Have Real Problems and We Are Born which gained her exposure and helped her become one of the most recognizable singers of her generation.
Sia is also known for hit songs she wrote for other music acts, including "Titanium" for David Guetta, "Diamonds" for Rihanna, and "Wild ones" for Flo Rida.
34. Norah Jones
Norah Jones' music is characterized by a unique and touching sound achieved by mixing jazz, folk, pop, and blues. This brought her the label of one of the most influential artists of the 2000s. As a child, Jones was introduced to different music styles and influences thanks to her father, who was a music producer. She also learned to play many instruments such as guitar, piano, and saxophone.
Her 2002 debut album Come Away With Me sold more than 27 million copies and got her five Grammy Awards. It still stands as one of the most acclaimed debut albums of all time. Her subsequent albums were also well received by critics and audiences.
33. Carole King
Carole King is known for her powerful voice as well as her songwriting skills. 118 of her songs has made it to the Billboard Hot 100 chart while she wrote more than 60 tracks that were on top of the UK charts as well. Many of these songs became pop standards for further generations.
Regarding her solo career, she found success in the 1970s, releasing albums that only contained piano and her voice. King released 25 albums, with the most successful one being Tapestry, which held the record for most weeks at first place on the U.S. charts by a female artist for more than 20 years.
32. Sarah McLachlan
Sarah McLachlan was born and raised in Canada and started to explore music during her childhood enrolling in guitar, classical piano, and voice classes. She is known for her touching love songs and the trademark mezzo-soprano vocal range. One of McLachlan's most notable music projects was the Lilith Fair music festival, which promoted female artists from all around the world and raised awareness for women rights. The festival earned tens of millions of dollars, and the money was donated to charity purposes.
McLachlan released nine studio albums, with best known out of the bunch being Surfacing, and has won three Grammy awards.
31. Gladys Knight
The "Empress of Soul" is an American businesswoman, singer, actress, and author. She is best known for hit songs recorded by Gladys Knight & the Pips, which was a band she started with family members and friends. Throughout her career, she managed to win seven Grammy Awards, four by herself, and three with the band she was in. "I've spent all of my life trying to get people to feel a passion for what I do," she once said. Some of Knight's well-known songs include "Midnight Train to Georgia" and "That's What Friends Are For."
Knight is also a restaurant owner, running "Gladys Knight & Ron Winans' Chicken & Waffles" in Atlanta.
Commonly referred to as "Goddess of Pop," Cher is one of the most popular female singers in the world who also had success in acting. She is often described as a powerful female figure in a male-dominated industry. Cher has a very unique voice categorized as contralto singing. Cher initially gained popularity for her work on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, a television show she hosted her ex-husband. Afterward, she tried acting and participated in movies like Silkwood, Mask, The Witches of Eastwick, and Moonstruck, receiving an Academy Award for Best Actress for the latter.
Cher's music career is marked by the willingness to experiment and reinvent herself while adopting different music styles. According to her, she wants to "remain relevant and do work that strikes a chord." Her most known songs include hits "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves," "If I Could Turn Back Time," and "Believe."
Stay Tuned To Part 2 for the next 10 of top 40 female singers of all time!