20 of the Best Female Rock Singers
This is a list of 20 of the most talented and influential female rock singers of all time, from Janis Joplin to Carole King. Not only have they affected the world of rock, but many of these ladies have had a significant influence on the genre. These women are ready to rock your playlist!
- 1. Janis Joplin
- 2. Patti Smith
- 3. Ann Wilson
- 4. Debbie Harry
- 5. Stevie Nicks
- 6. Amy Lee
- 7. Joan Jett
- 8. Tina Turner
- 9. Tarja Turunen
- 10. Linda Ronstadt
- 11. Grace Slick
- 12. Pat Benatar
- 13. Chrissie Hynde
- 14. Annie Lennox
- 15. Lita Ford
- 16. Dolores O’Riordan
- 17. PJ Harvey
- 18. Courtney Love
- 19. Siouxsie Sioux
- 20. Carole King
- Final Thoughts
1. Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin was one of the most famous and influential female rock singers of all time. She was known for her raspy, powerful voice and her stage presence. Joplin was a member of the psychedelic band Big Brother and the Holding Company but went on to pursue a solo career.
Joplin was a pioneer in the world of rock music and paved the way for other female singers. She remains one of the most iconic and influential rock singers of all time. A book entitled “Buried Alive: The Biography of Janis Joplin” was written for her to keep her memory alive and for her legacy to live on.
Some of her most notable tunes include “Piece of My Heart”, “Cry Baby”, “Summertime”, and many more.
2. Patti Smith
The next female rock singer on this list is Patti Smith. She is a singer, songwriter, and poet who was a part of the punk rock movement in the 1970s. Smith was known for her unique style which blended poetry and rock music.
She was given the honor of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She got married to Fred “Sonic” Smith, who also was a rock artist and involved poetry in his works just like Patti. There’s no doubt that she made a significant impact in the world of rock music and continues to inspire other female singers today.
Her most iconic songs are “Because the Night”, “Frederick” and “Dancing Barefoot”. Although not all of her songs were as commercially successful, they are great tunes without question.
3. Ann Wilson
Ann Wilson is best known as the lead singer of the rock band Heart. She has a powerful voice that can hit high notes with ease. Some of her most popular songs with Heart are “Crazy on You” and “These Dreams” which both are still played on radio stations today.
Her work with Heart has earned her critical acclaim and she is considered one of the best female rock singers of all time. She has also released multiple solo albums and a solo tour called “The Ann Wilson Thing”. The world of rock music can’t ignore Ann Wilson!
4. Debbie Harry
Next on the list is Debbie Harry. She was the lead singer of the punk rock band Blondie and is considered one of the most iconic female singers in rock music. Harry was known for her unique style which blended punk, pop, and new wave music.
She embarked on a solo career during the hiatus of Blondie and released multiple solo albums. Her most successful album was also her first solo album, KooKoo, which featured the hit single “Backfired”.
5. Stevie Nicks
Stevie Nicks is best known as the lead singer of Fleetwood Mac. She joined the band in 1975 and they went on to release some of the most iconic albums in rock history, such as “Rumours”.
Nicks is also a successful solo artist. Her award-winning solo track, “Edge of Seventeen”, gained critical acclaim and became part of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time by Rolling Stones.
There’s no denying that this lady knows how to rock. Even if you’re not a fan of Fleetwood Mac, you have to respect Stevie Nicks as one of the most talented and iconic female rock singers of all time!
6. Amy Lee
This next singer needs no introduction. Amy Lee is the co-founder and lead singer of the rock band Evanescence. The band first gained popularity with their debut album, “Fallen”, which featured the hit single “Bring Me to Life”.
Amy Lee has a powerful voice that is able to convey emotion and a message through her music. Of course, we won’t forget how she slayed those high notes while still sounding like a total rockstar! She has inspired many other female singers in the rock genre and continues to produce great music with Evanescence.
Some of the more notable hit songs apart from “Bring Me to Life” include “My Immortal”, “Breathe No More”, and “Going Under”.
7. Joan Jett
Joan Jett is an American rock singer, songwriter, composer, musician, record producer, and occasional actress. She is known to be the founder and frontwoman of the rock band Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. They became a sensation in many countries with their hit song “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” which was a number one single in 1982.
Jett’s way of music is greatly inspired by early punk rockers. Her glam rock style and image made her popular among the punk and new wave crowd. She always had the best hairstyles in all of their performances!
8. Tina Turner
Who wouldn’t know this legendary figure? Tina Turner is an American-born singer, songwriter, dancer, actress, and author. She is known to be one of the best-selling music artists of all time with her estimated 100 million records sold worldwide!
Tina Turner started out her career in the late 1950s as a featured performer with Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm. Turner’s live performances are full of energy and she is known for her dance moves. She isn’t called the Queen of Rock and Roll for nothing!
Tina Turner’s most successful songs include “Proud Mary”, “GoldenEye”, “What’s Love Got to Do with It”, and many more.
9. Tarja Turunen
Another iconic figure in the world of rock music is Tarja Turunen. She is a Finnish singer who is best known for her heavy metal band Nightwish. She was their lead vocalist for nine years before she was removed from the band.
Tarja Turunen’s performances are always powerful and emotional. She has a beautiful operatic voice that still goes well for metal songs. I mean, have you seen her cover for the Phantom Of The Opera? It’s mind-blowing and it now has over 28 million views on Youtube!
10. Linda Ronstadt
Linda Ronstadt is not just any rock singer, she is a living legend. She is an American singer who has earned a whopping 11 Grammy Awards! In total, she has sold over 100 million records worldwide!
Ronstadt’s voice is truly unique and her musical range is astounding. She has also dabbled in different genres including country, pop, and even standards. She is truly a versatile artist and she earned her spot on this list.
With songs like “You’re No Good”, “Somewhere Out There”, and “Don’t Know Much”, it’s hard to argue the greatness of Linda Ronstadt.
11. Grace Slick
This next singer is the frontwoman of one of the most popular and influential rock bands of all time, Jefferson Airplane. Grace Slick is an American singer-songwriter who is known for her powerful and distinctive voice.
Grace Slick’s style is a mix of Psychedelic Rock and Acid Rock. She was one of the pioneers of the San Francisco Sound in the 1960s. Her most popular song is “White Rabbit” which has been covered by many artists over the years.
12. Pat Benatar
Pat Benatar is an American singer and songwriter who is best known for her worldwide hit, “Love Is a Battlefield”. She is one of the most successful female rock singers of all time, with four Grammy Awards and multiple platinum and gold albums to her name!
This powerful vocalist got her start in the clubs of New York City, where she built a strong following with her no-holds-barred approach to rock music. You can still listen to her award-winning tracks on all music platforms out there.
Some of her work is embodied in the tracks “Hit Me with Your Best Shot”, “Heartbreaker”, and “We Live for Love”.
13. Chrissie Hynde
The next singer on this list is Chrissie Hynde, the founder and lead singer of The Pretenders. This English-American rock band rose to fame in the 1980s with their hits “Brass in Pocket” and “I’ll Stand by You”. Just like Patti Smith, she also became part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Hynde is known for her edgy style and distinctive contralto vocal range. She has been an inspiration to many female singers who came after her.
14. Annie Lennox
Annie Lennox is a Scottish singer and an activist who first gained fame as one half of the pop rock duo Eurythmics. The other half is Dave Stewart. Together, they released hits like “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and “Here Comes the Rain Again”. They were a power couple who got inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame!
Lennox has since gone on to have a hugely successful solo career. Her song “Why” now has over 65 million views on Youtube. If you haven’t listened to it yet, I highly recommend that you do! Her tracks can be streamed on all music platforms out there.
15. Lita Ford
The next rock star on this list is the lovely Lita Ford. She was the guitarist of The Runaways, an all-female rock band, before embarking on a hugely successful solo career. Her hit tracks include “Kiss Me Deadly” and “Close My Eyes Forever”, which she recorded with Ozzy Osbourne.
Even after her long hiatus, Lita Ford is still considered to be one of the best female rock singers of all time because of her incredible vocal range and guitar skills. She has inspired many other female rock singers and guitarists and is one of the most influential women in rock music.
16. Dolores O’Riordan
Dolores O’Riordan was the lead singer of one of the most successful Irish bands of all time, The Cranberries. They achieved international fame in the 1990s with their hit single “Zombie”. Her iconic voice and the band’s unique blend of alternative rock and Celtic influences made them one of the most popular groups of the 90s.
Although The Cranberries had a brief hiatus from 2003, Dolores O’Riordan continued to release solo albums and toured internationally when they made a comeback. There’s no doubt that this talented singer is one of the best female rock singers of all time.
17. PJ Harvey
Another iconic female singer-songwriter on this list is PJ Harvey. She made a name for herself in the early 1990s with her unique brand of alternative rock. Her album “Rid of Me” was a critical and commercial success, and she has gone on to release many more successful albums over the years.
PJ Harvey has won several prestigious awards, including the Mercury Prize and an NME Award. She has also been nominated for multiple other major awards! She is no doubt one of the most respected and acclaimed female rock singers of all time.
18. Courtney Love
Courtney Love is the frontwoman of the alternative rock band Hole and is also known for her highly publicized marriage to Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. Love has always been a controversial figure in the music industry, but there’s no denying her undeniable talent as a singer and songwriter.
Some of Courtney Love’s most popular songs include “Celebrity Skin”, “Malibu”, and “Violet”. She has also appeared in several films, most notably “The People vs. Larry Flynt” and “Sid & Nancy”. She truly is a multi-talented artist, and one of the most influential women in rock music!
19. Siouxsie Sioux
Next on the list is Siouxsie Sioux, the frontwoman of the influential punk rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees. She is known for her unique vocal style and dark, gothic image. Siouxsie Sioux was one of the most popular musicians in the UK during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and her influence can still be felt today.
Her overly done makeup remains one of her most iconic looks and has been imitated by many other goth and punk musicians. Siouxsie Sioux is proof that you don’t have to conform to the mainstream to be successful and is one of the most successful women in this field.
20. Carole King
Finishing off this list is the legendary Carole King. She is a singer-songwriter who rose to fame in the 1970s with her hugely successful album “Tapestry”. Carole King has written numerous hits for other artists, including “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” sung by Aretha Franklin.
Her work has been praised by many, and she has won four Grammy Awards. Carole King is an incredible all-around artist who has made a lasting impact on the music industry in general, not just in the field of rock.
These are just a few of the many amazing female rock singers out there. If you’re a fan of rock music, be sure to check out some of these artists and their work. There’s so much great music out there to enjoy!
Linda Ronstadt Featured Image (Bottom-Right) by – Rob Bogaerts / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons