Famous Black Female Singers From The 50s

The First Lady Of Song, Ella Fitzgerald, in a blue attire matching the background theme
The First Lady Of Song, Ella Fitzgerald, in a blue attire matching the background theme( Source : instagram )

Some Famous Black Female Singers From The 50s are 1. Ella Fitzgerald 2. Sarah Vaughan 3. Billie Holiday and more.

In the vibrant era of the 1950s, a strong and alluring wave of black women singers emerged. They crossed racial barriers and attracted audiences with their unequaled talent, charisma, and soulful voices.

From Billie Holiday's sensual jazz to Aretha Franklin's groundbreaking R&B, these iconic artists paved the way for subsequent generations and exhibited the enormous diversity of black musical expression.

Not only did they revolutionize the music industry, but also became the symbol of fortitude, tenacity, and musical brilliance amid a period of profound social change.

Famous Black Female Singers From The 50s

Artist NameYears Active
Ella Fitzgerald1929-1995
Sarah Vaughan1942 - 1990
Billie Holiday1930 - 1959
Josephine Baker1921 - 1975
Dinah Washington1941 - 1963
Etta James1954 - 2012
Diana Ross1959 - Present
Aretha Franklin1954 - 2017
LaVern Baker1946 - 1991
Dionne Warwick1955 - Present

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1. Ella Fitzgerald

A vintage photo of multiple Grammy winner Ella Fitzgerald
A vintage photo of multiple Grammy winner Ella Fitzgerald( Source : facebook )

BornApril 25, 1917
Spotify Monthly Listerners4,719,910

Ella Fitzgerald was one of the most Famous Black Female Singers of all time. She was also the first black woman to win Grammy.

Born on April 25, 1917, in Newport News, Virginia, Ella got into entertainment by singing in the streets of Harlem. She eventually found herself competing on the stage at Apollo Theater in the Amateur Night at the age of 17.

She released her debut studio album Ella Sings Gershwin after signing a deal with the major record label Decca in 1950. Her career consisted of discography with multiple studio albums and live album releases.

Ella has one of the most well-decorated cabinets, winning multiple prestigious awards including 14 Grammy Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Arts, and more.

2. Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Vaughan looking glamourous in a white dress
Sarah Vaughan looking glamourous in a white dress( Source : pinterest )

BornMarch 27, 1924
Spotify Monthly Listeners1,217,689

Sarah Vaughan is not only a Famous Black Women Singer but also a highly regarded pioneer of jazz music. Sarah was a native of Newark, New Jersey.

Born in 1924, to an extremely religious household, she began singing at an early age in the local church. In no time she started sneaking into the nearby nightclubs to perform on the stage.

While she found modest success in the mid-1940s, her career skyrocketed after signing with Columbia Records, her label home from 1948 to 1953. During her career, she released a staggering 48 studio albums, 10 live albums, and 35 compilation albums.

Ultimately, she received numerous accolades throughout her prolific career, some notable ones being 9 Grammy nominations, out of which she won two, Lifetime Achievement Awards, and the NEA Jazz Masters Award amongst many others.

3. Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday loved her two pet dogs
Billie Holiday loved her two pet dogs( Source : facebook )

BornApril 7, 1915
Spotify Monthly Listerners3,479,531

Billie Holiday is a tragic yet iconic name amongst 50s Black Female Singers. Born Eleanora Fagan in Philadelphia in 1915, she remains an influential figure

After a childhood filled with turmoil, Holiday began singing in Harlem nightclubs as a teenager. She was eventually noticed by a record producer who helped her rise to stardom.

Upon signing a record deal with Brunswick in 1935, she produced her first hit single "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" in collaboration with Teddy Wilson, followed by a string of success throughout the 40s.

Although her career reached its commercial peak in the late 1940s, her personal life, riddled with legal troubles, failed relationships, and substance abuse, ultimately led her to serve a prison sentence.

Despite her brief period in the spotlight, her incredible discography won her 4 Grammy Awards while also being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and National R&B Hall of Fame.

4. Josephine Baker

 Josephine Baker showcasing her exotic sense of fasion
Josephine Baker showcasing her exotic sense of fasion( Source : facebook )

BornJune 3, 1906
Spotify Monthly Listeners177,907

Josephine Baker was a symbol of the beauty and vitality of Black American culture which took Europe by storm. She was Dubbed "Black Pearl" by adoring audiences.

Born in 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri, Baker was a singer and dancer who rose to stardom with her performance at the Theatre des Champs Elysees in Paris, leading her to become a prominent face of music hall entertainers in France.

She made her professional singing debut in 1930 and later made her first silver screen debut as a singer in the 1934 movie Zouzou. This versatility helped her feature in several films side by side with her singing and dancing career.

5. Dinah Washington

Dinah addicive smile for the camera
Dinah addicive smile for the camera( Source : facebook )

BornAugust 29, 1924
Spotify Monthly Listeners1,991,560

Dinah Washington is remembered among Black Women Singers From The 50s for infusing elements of R&B and pop. She dubbed herself "Queen of the Blues".

She truly was an inspiration for the 50s blues lover, raking up more than two dozen R&B top 10 hits during her prime.

Dinah was born in 1923 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and got into gospel music at an early age while performing in the church choir at St. Luke's Baptist church. By 1941, she started playing at Chicago nightclubs and bars, which eventually caught the eye of many record producers.

In 1944, Dinah recorded her first-ever song "Evil Gal Blues" via Keynote Records, which was followed by a long line of hits and provided her with mainstream success.

6. Etta James

Etta James incorporates a blonde look
Etta James incorporates a blonde look( Source : facebook )

BornJanuary 25, 1938
Spotify Monthly Listeners7,584,494

Etta James is known for infusing jazz, blues, soul, and gospel into her recording. She is a six times Grammy winner.

With her profound and earthly vocals that filled the void between R&B and rock and roll music, she shot up to the limelight with the release of her single "The Wallflower" and spawned further hits later on.

Much like Billie Holiday, Etta's life was rife with turmoil, facing personal problems of substance addiction, physical abuse, and issues with the law, which led to her incarceration.

Although she did make a musical comeback years later in the late 1980s, her album, Seven Year Itch wouldn't be merely successful as the ones from her prime.

7. Diana Ross

Diana's soothing voice perfeclty complements her beatiful appearance
Diana's soothing voice perfeclty complements her beatiful appearance( Source : facebook )

BornMarch 26, 1944
Spotify Monthly Listerners8,151,520

Diana Ross is one of the few legendary female singers from the 50s still alive. In fact, she is still making an impact in the music industry today.

She shot to mainstream success as the frontman for the commercially successful girl group The Supremes, and would later venture on her solo journey with the release of her self-titled debut album, which topped the Billboard 200 charts.

Additionally, her solo career spawned 25 studio albums and multiple singles which have collectively sold an astounding 100 million copies globally.

Her prolific musical career has amassed numerous prestigious awards such as the Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement, Golden Globe Award, and Presidential Medal of Freedom to name a few.

8. Aretha Franklin

The Queen of Soul performing during
The Queen of Soul performing during "Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular" in Chicago( Source : facebook )

BornMarch 25, 1942
Spotify Monthly Listerners11,566,974

Aretha Franklin had a career that saw her bagging 18 Grammys including the first eight for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. She is the "Queen of Soul."

Franklin was born in 1942 and began her musical career at the age of 12 when she toured across the country as a member of a gospel caravan while also releasing her first single "New Grow Old" the very year.

While she released several songs during the 50s, it wasn't until the mid-1960s that she found acclaim and success following a deal with Atlantic Records.

Her discography boats many 38 studio albums, 6 live albums, 62 compilation albums, and 131 singles which have sold over 75 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time.

9. LaVern Baker

LaVern posing in a gorgeous dress
LaVern posing in a gorgeous dress( Source : facebook )

BornNovember 11, 1929
Spotify Monthly Listerners285,188

LaVern Baker was an exceptional diva in the mid-50s rock and roll scene. She wowed audiences with her astounding vocal power and rhythmic vitality.

Hailing from Chicago where she was born Delores Evans, the artist started singing at the Club DeLisa at the age of 17, wrapped in a tattered attire, and went by the stage name "Little Miss Sharecropper".

In 1951, she signed a record deal with Okeh Records which saw her changing the alias to Bea Baker and later to LaVern. However, her deal with Atlantic Records yielded a series of hits that would garner widespread fame and success.

10. Dionne Warwick

Dionne Warwick glistening smile
Dionne Warwick glistening smile ( Source : facebook )

BornDecember 12, 1940
Spotify Monthly Listerners3,507,884

Dionne Warwick is not only a Grammy Hall of Fame inductee but also one of the best-selling artists. She boasts 100 million sales worldwide throughout her career.

Growing up in a middle-class racially integrated community in East Orange, New Jersey, Warwick was introduced to music early by her spiritually inclined parents.

With her career spanning over six decades, Warrick's remarkable ability to infuse emotions into her performance has earned her 74th position in the Billboard Hot 100's "Greatest Artists of all time".

Beyond her remarkable vocal abilities, Warwick's philanthropic work and commitment to humanitarian causes have earned her widespread admiration and respect.

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