What is music without female singers? Whether they work as a solo artist or in a group, the singer is inseparable from legendary songs. From modest and whispering to rough and screaming, they know how to evoke every emotion. What are the ten best singers ever?

10. Janis Joplin

Together with Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin grew into an icon of the 1960s. Just like her aforementioned colleagues she died at the age of 27 after a long period of excessive alcohol and have used drugs. With her powerful voice, Joplin developed into an original blues singer. Like many of her peers, she broke through at the 1967 Monterey festival. Her ragged voice and rebellious image would make Joplin a very influential singer.

9. Adele

The overwhelming success of her latest album 25 proves that the British Adele is the most popular singer of recent years is. With highly autobiographical songs such as ‘Chasing Pavements’ that she brings full of drama, she quickly managed to storm the charts. She has now scored four number 1 hits in the Netherlands, including “Skyfall” the title song of the James Bond film of the same name. Her albums are invariably named after her age at the time of recording.

8. Patti Smith

Patti Smith caused a sensation in 1975 with the debut album Horses. With her rock group she played a raw form of rock ‘n roll that would have a major influence on punk. Smith writes poetic lyrics that she delivers with complete dedication. She wrote her biggest hit “Because the Night” a few years later with Bruce Springsteen. After a long period of silence, she returned in the late 1990s. With her performances and books she manages to win over a new generation of fans who find her authenticity very inspiring.

7. Donna Summer

Donna Summer was a more versatile singer who is best remembered as the Queen of Disco. Together with producer Giorgio Moroder, she scored world hits in the 1970s such as “Love To Love You”, “I Feel Love” and “Hot Stuff”. The sensual way of singing in combination with electronic music would be imitated countless times. After the heyday of disco she would profile herself more as a soul singer, for example with the gospel-like ‘State of Independence’ from 1982.

6. Stevie Nicks

When drummer Mick Fleetwood wanted to revive his band Fleetwood Mac in 1974, he brought in guitarist Lindsey Buckingham. This ensured that his partner Stevie Nicks also took part and one of the most successful bands ever was formed. Fleetwood Mac developed an accessible sound with hippie and country influences. Singer Stevie Nicks stood out with her characteristic nasal voice and lyrics about magical creatures and independent women. Well-known Nicks songs include “Rhiannon”, “Dreams” and “Sara”.

5. Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse is undoubtedly the most important singer of the past 20 years. Like many tragic artists, her career was quite short, barely seven years from the release of her debut album Frank (2004). Her real breakthrough was the single “Rehab” with which she scored a worldwide hit in 2007. Winehouse had transformed herself into a standout with lots of make-up and grand haircuts. The accompanying album Back in Black is a pop classic, but Winehouse would never make a sequel. She performed a lot although she was increasingly negative in the news because of cancellations or other scandals. In 2011 she passed away from alcohol poisoning at the age of 27.

4. Nina Simone

Nina Simone did not like to think in boxes and sang jazz as well as gospel, soul and blues. Simone was trained as a classical pianist, although she devoted herself to popular singing over time. During her lifetime, Simone was best known as a protest singer, campaigning for equal civil rights for blacks in the United States. “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life” from 1968 is her most famous song of the period. She would later unexpectedly score a number 1 hit with “My Baby Just Cares For Me” which was used in an advertisement. Even at a later age she managed to enchant spectators with her idiosyncratic combination of voice and piano.

3. Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin is without a doubt the most influential soul singer of all time (hence her nickname Queen of Soul.) Her father was a pastor and she sang in church with her sisters as a child. At the age of fourteen she already managed to land a record deal. In the 1960s, Aretha became famous for her powerful singing style imitated by countless R&B singers. “Respect”, “Think” and “I Say A Little Prayer” became classics of the soul genre. After her heyday, she managed to make a comeback at unexpected moments, including her role in the film Blues Brothers. Her duets with Eurythmics and George Michael ensured that Franklin was discovered by a new generation.

2. Kate Bush

The English Kate Bush caused a furore at a young age with her song “Wuthering Heights” (1978). The singer excelled thanks to her own unique music and lyrics in which her elastic voice came into its own. Bush developed into a versatile artist who paid a lot of attention to dance and video clips. More and more often she produced her own records using the latest technological gadgets. After a very productive period in the 1980s, her albums were released at increasing intervals. Despite this, she is still adored, a series of 22 performances sold out within fifteen minutes in 2014.

1. Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday was a charismatic jazz singer who rose to fame in the 1930s. Holiday had a rhythmic style of singing that was unusual until then. Because she has always struggled with addiction, many of her songs sound through, an authenticity that many singers are more than happy to long for. Her subjects in songs like “Strange Fruit” and “Gloomy Sunday” were also often dark. She played with countless jazz bands in which black and white often played together for the first time. Holiday died of an overdose at the age of 44. The formation of legends could then really get underway.