Making a top 10 list of the finest female jazz singers is difficult enough, but trimming that list down to a top three is even more difficult! While there will be some controversy, especially over that number three slot since there are so many good options, generally speaking the same few names come up again and again when discussing who the best female jazz singers are.
#1: Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald is an absolute legend when it comes to music in general, and there is probably only one name that can compete with her as far as incredible female jazz singers go. Now the name that is most often associated with jazz music, especially when talking about vocals, the woman who was nicknamed the Queen of Jazz built her reputation over decades of incredible vocal work especially when singing what is referred to as jazz scat – and especially improvised version of jazz singing is extremely difficult to do well.
#2: Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday, often nicknamed Lady Day, was a giant among female jazz singers and one of the few names that we mentioned in the same breath as Ella Fitzgerald. She died relatively young, but had already put two decades of solid work into jazz by the time of her tragic early demise. A must-have for any jazz collection.
#3: Nina Simone
Etta James would have been another good choice for this spot, but we’re going to give the nod to Simone. The sixth child of a preacher, you know learn classical piano as a child but would find her taste and passion in providing incredible jazz music and vocals to this expressive form of music. Ironically, Nina’s real name is Eunice Waymon and she use this stage name because her family associated jazz with “The Devil’s Music.” Just listen to those vocals: