“You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.” – Nina Simone
There are countless amazing strong female singers that aren’t famous for their naïve breakup songs or their gimmicks, but instead were pioneers of their art, have impressive vocals and range and who rampaged on for decades. Here are some of my favourite female vocalists:
Stevie Nicks The Queen of Rock n’ Roll. The mystical singer has a voice unlike any other. There’s a sexy and powerful raspiness to Stevie’s voice that may not sound like a soothing lullaby, but for me, it calms me and takes me to where I need to go. Little known fact (… now not so much), I hope to have Crystal as the first song I dance to at my wedding. Watching youtube videos of Stevie belting Rhiannon live is mesmerising and enigmatic. Whether it is duets with Lindsey Buckingham or her solo work, Stevie Nicks is an ethereal and bewitching singer who is still performing her records 50 years on.
Patti Smith I absolutely love the singer-song writer poet and author that is Patti Smith. Birdland is a masterpiece and the perfect track to listen to when you are trying to mellow out or when you need something to open your mind and inspire you and Because the Night makes you fall ass over teacup in love or dance under streetlights. I read her book Just Kids and revelled in the crazy romantic rock star life Patti Smith led. Horses, Patti Smith’s debut studio album is volatile and revolutionary. Patti Smith’s voice is wild and soft at the same time in that it screams at you, it holds you tightly and lets you loose on the world.
Sia I heard Sia for the first time when I watched the trailer for Peaceful warrior and Breathe Me played and it was haunting and emotional. Sia music can pull at your heart strings and also make you dance and Move Your body (which has made its way onto my workout playlist). the songs that I listen to when I need a bit of a kick in the ass or when I need something to ignite me are Alive, Never Give Up and Unstoppable. Sia has a truly powerful and roaring voice and her lyrics tend to go a lot deeper than most other current pop singers (really biting my tongue here).
Adele Everyone has heard of Adele. Everyone. Whether it is her nostalgic crooning on Hometown or being a badass on Rolling in the Deep, Adele’s voice is like no other. I caught a moment of her on Ellen and her spontaneous rendition of Hello was so unbelievably natural, that is pure talent.
Pat Benatar My favourite female power ballad ground-shaker. Belting out this rockers’ tunes is probably the closest I will ever get to being a rock star myself. I can strut to and howl Heartbreaker or Love is a Battlefield in my living room or in my head on the way to an interview and I feel like a damn warrior. Pat Benatar’s more softer tunes like We Belong or Shadows of the Night whisk me away and transport me to my favourite 80’s Brat Pack movies.
Tracy Chapman I don’t know many people who don’t sing a long to Fast Car or Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution when they come on the radio. Suffice to say Tracy Chapman has a forceful yet tender voice and her music offers escapism and touches on the trials of violence and poverty and stands the test of time.
Nina Simone If I had the chance to see any female singer gone, it would be Nina Simone. The jazz and gospel high priestess has one of the strongest and most soulful voices I have ever heard. I wish I could have seen her live. Nina Simone was captivating and transfixing. I love listening to Nina Simone in the evening, with a glass of wine relaxing and swaying (very Hugo Boss ad-esque) listening to Black is the colour of my true love’s hair and the rest of her collection.
Celine Dion I get a lot of flack for my love of Celine Dion. But I am totally unapologetic. No-one can say that she cannot sing. The famous theme to Titanic may make some cringe now, but there is no denying that the vocals are beautiful and heartbreaking. Celine Dion can fist bump her chest as often as she wants in my book, her singing is strong and powerful, brave and also very clean. If you listen really carefully you can hear how perfect her vocals are, not that I’m remotely an expert…. Still, the Canadian singer who has the added trick up her sleeve of being able to sing in another language, is without a doubt one of the greatest female vocalists. All you have to do is listen to All by myself, Because you loved me or D’amour ou d’amitié…..
Other amazing singers that I am a die-hard fan of include Cher (obviously), Sarah Brightman, Tori Amos, Ella Fitzgerald, Kate Bush and Billie Holiday…