Powerful Female Voices

So I decided to get out of the house today. First time in almost a week. It was pretty nice. First I went to Subway for some lunch, picked up the latest issue of Whatzup and got screwed over gas prices. Yes AS I WAS WAITING IN LINE at Wal-Mart for the only gas still advertised as $1.39, they changed the price back up to $1.59. I can personally say that while it’s still amazing to see gas prices under $2, THAT SUCKS! Whatever, that’s what I get for going to the Wal-Mart I’m supposed to be protesting for changing the environment of my neighborhood.

Anyway, today’s topic is “Powerful Female Voices”. I thought it was appropriate because on my treck out I stopped by the Wooden Nickel to hang out with my pal Andy and get some tunes. For Bloomington-ers, Wooden Nickel is essentially the Landlocked of Fort Wayne, only with less to barely ANY indie music. It’s mostly mainstream stuff, lots of vinyl, a few in-stores, and a small section for local music. Oh yeah and they do actually give you a ‘wooden nickel’ with every purchase. (Collect 10 and you get $5 off your purchase.) But anyway, I bought “Biography”, Lisa Stansfield’s greatest hits album, and made them put it on in the story. Poor young Andy and never heard of Lisa Stansfield before, and I was a little disappointed, but not entirely surprised. A few of the customers started going down memory lane with me about their first time they had heard her songs and how great of a voice she had, and that got me thinking about the powerful female voices that have dominated the music industry.

When I came home there was a hip-hop documentary on that started talking about the same thing, so I decided to come up with my list of powerful/influencial female voices.

Listen Along? Spotify: Powerful Female Voices

Aretha Franklin

Need I say more?? If you really need this explained to you, you do not deserve to be a fan of music. She’s the Queen of Soul. She’s 66 years old and can still move you to tears with her voice. It’s more than R-E-S-P-E-C-T, try out her version of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “I Say a Little Prayer”. There is no voice like Aretha Franklin’s. She is timeless and an inspiration to so many.


Dionne Warwick

To this day, Dionne Warwick is one of my favorite female voices. She has definitely made an influential mark on my life, and brought so much color and life to the music of one of my favorite 20th century pop songwriting teams, Burt Bacharach & Hal David. So many soulful classics were sang by her: my personal favorite “Walk On By”, “I Say A Little Prayer”, “Do You Know The Way to San Jose?”, “Anyone Who Had a Heart”, “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again”, “Promises, Promises”. It’s just safe to say if you play any of her classics I will probably be in love with the song. She had such a sultry and sassy yet sweet voice. It’s enought to come from a musical family (Whitney Houston is her cousin), but she really made a mark for black female voices in the pop music scene. Her voice in its prime was absolutely stunning.


Patti LaBelle

This is another classic soul voice. Patti LaBelle can turn any song into a gospel moment with her voice. She has sass and attitude that just whips through her vocals and steals the attention of any listener. From her early days singing “Lady Marmalade” with her sisters to her continuing career in the Millenials, Patti LaBelle is a close runner to Miss Franklin when it comes to females soul singers.


Whitney Houston (pre-Bobby Brown)

This is really a tragic story. Whitney Houston had the WORLD, THE WORLD, with her voice and the killer songs written for her. She arrived on the scene with a vengeance with poppy R&B tunes and a voice as fierce as fire. I don’t think anyone can match her in power and hits in the 80s and 90s, she was everywhere. Unfortunately, it all went down the drain.


Lisa Stansfield

I couldn’t NOT mention her in this. It’s wonderful to hear beautiful, soulful R&B voices from white women. It just proves that color, ethnicity, none of it matters. If you have the gift to sing, you have it, and you better go out there and use it. From her popular “All Around the World” to 1997’s Barry White cover “Never Never Gonna Give You Up”, Lisa Stansfield has blown away audiences with her voice and distinct musical style. Her voice is powerful and rips through songs like a force of nature.

Lauryn Hill

It’s funny how hip hop changed the situation…

Lauryn Hill made such an impact on the role of women in hip hop. She could sing, rap, and play her own instruments and her lyrics told the realities of life with a vengeance. She had style, flavor and and her vocals were spot on for that hauntingly beautiful cover of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly”.

Her work with The Fugees was killer, we are still praying for them to get back together, but she let her true talent show in 1998’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. That album had everything, class, soul, hip hop flavor, and intriguingly beautiful ballads. The album just sucked you in, no song was not worth listening to on repeat for hours at a time. It was hard to let her go when she decided to disappear from the world after the success of the album, hopefully she can pull everything together. I’ve heard many accounts of her working on new things, and even caught the brief Fugee reunion on Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next.

Joss Stone

While Joss Stone is the most recent artist on this list her credit is no less deserved than anyone else mentioned. Citing Aretha Franklin as a direct influence, it is absolutely obvious when you hear this young woman sing. And that’s a major point to note, she’s only 21 years old and has a voice well beyond her years. I first heard her cover of The White Stripes’ “Fell In Love With a Girl” (Her’s is appropriately retitled “Fell In Love With A Boy“).

To have a voice like that is truly a gift from God. I had to check out more from her and immediately bought her debut The Soul Sessions. How many sixteen-year-olds get to work with Angie Stone and The Roots on their FIRST ALBUM? If you have not listened to The Soul Sessions yet, I urge you to go out and get it, right now. The songs are covers of tunes by Aretha Franklin, The Isley Brothers, and many other soul greats. I recommend “Fell In Love With a Boy”, “Dirty Man”, “I Had A Dream”, and “All The King’s Horses”, but truly, every song is timeless and captivating.

Honorable Mention: Regina Spektor, Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Teena Marie, Lena Horne, Patsy Cline, Billie Holiday


One thought on “Powerful Female Voices

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  1. I listened to Aretha Franklin’s “I Say A Little Prayer” recently and I realized that Aretha is a greater singer than I already thought.

    Her wails on that song are so raw and powerful for the 1960’s that up to now very few female r&b singers can match it.

    Her sisters were no slouches either. Last week, I found out she had a sister named Carolyn and I was amazed at the vocals on that album. RIP to her & Erma.

    Where’s Etta James on your list??



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