10 Female Soul Singers Of The 60s
When we think of female soul singers of the 60s, names like Aretha Franklin and Irma Thomas come to mind. They played a huge role in developing the genre.
Soul music was invented during the late 50s and the early 60s in the United States. Soul music originated amongst African-American communities across the States.
It is basically a combination of various different genres. Soul music consists of Jazz, blues, R&B, and gospel among other genres of music within it, most of which are the creation of the black communities in the States across generations.
A blind pianist, Ray Charles is often credited with pioneering the soul music genre, thanks to him we've seen many amazing artists over the years, many of whom are females.
Here is a list of 10 female soul singers of the 60s.
- Aretha Franklin
- Gladys Knight
- Etta James
- Nina Simone
- Irma Thomas
- Tammi Terrell
- Mary Wells
- Patti LaBelle
- Tina Turner
- Diana Ross
1. Aretha Franklin
Representing all-female soul singers we have the amazing Aretha Franklin at the number-one spot.
Franklin is often regarded as the greatest female soul singer ever to grace the earth if not the greatest ever regardless of gender. She was so good, inspired by her voice and songs, people often referred to her as the "Queen of Soul."
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 1942, Aretha and her family relocated several times during her childhood. Apart from her birthplace, the places she's lived include Buffalo, New York, and Detroit, Michigan, where she would start her musical journey in 1954.
She was active until 2017, a year before she passed away. Aretha had 39 studio albums in her career among many other projects, during her successful six decades and more career.
Franklin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 for achievements and contributions to the music world by president George W. Bush.
With a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, she is also the first-ever female to be inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame. Ranked number one on the "100 greatest singers of all time" by Rolling Stone magazine, she has won multiple Grammy's and AMA's in her life.
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2. Gladys Knight
Gladys Maria Knight or better known as the "Empress of Soul" by her fans and listeners, comes right behind the "Queen of Soul" on our list.
Born in May 1944, the 78-year-old legend has been active in the music industry since 1948. She started singing when she was a young girl as she was part of the church choir.
Knight also won a singing contest on TV in 1952, when she was just eight. She has been a huge part of our lives as her voice has graced the theme song for some of the iconic movies we might have watched. She has lent her voice to the title song of James Bond film among others.
Regarded as one of the greatest singers of all time by Rolling Stone magazine, she has ten studio albums to her name and seven Grammy awards throughout her career.
Aside from her solo project, Gladys was also a member of the popular soul music group called, "Gladys Knight & the Pips." Knight, a founding member of the group sang for them from 1952 until its disbandment in 1989.
The 2022 Kennedy Center Honor recipient is still active and is an inspiration for many.
3. Etta James
The late great Etta James graces our list of amazing female singers who excelled in soul music during the 60s.
Etta James was her professional stage name as she was born Jamsetta Hawkins in January 1938, in LA. Jamsetta met with the legendary singer Johnny Otis when she was just 14.
Soon after that, her musical journey started. It was Otis who helped her come up with a stage name, Etta James by transposing her real name. When she was 16 in 1954, she had already set into the path of music.
James was active until she passed away in 2012 aged 73. With 29 studio albums to her name, she has six Grammy's to her name. When inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame, she was described as one of the greatest voices of her century.
4. Nina Simone
The inspirational and someone who had a far greater impact on people's lives than with just her music Nina Simone come in next on our list.
Native of Tryon, North Carolina, she was born in February 1933. When she was a child, she wanted to join the Curtis Institute of Music to study. However, she was rejected at the time even though her audition went well. Many looked at it as a racism issue.
Even with facing such issues, Simone went on to become such a great singer that the same institute that denied her admission granted her an honorary degree days before she passed away in 2003.
During her long and successful career, Nina went on to release 19 studio and 14 live albums respectively. Simone is inducted into many prestigious halls of fame including the likes of the National Rhythm & Blues hall of fame and the Rock and Roll hall of fame.
Additionally, she is also a recipient of the Grammy hall of fame award.
5. Irma Thomas
Irma Thomas winds up the top half of our list of soul singers from the 60s era.
Born as Irma Lee in February 1941, the 82-year-old legend has been active in the music industry since the year 1959. Native of Ponchatoula, Louisiana, she is adoringly known as the "Soul Queen of New Orleans."
Married twice, and the mother of four Irma kept her second ex-husband's surname when she was working as a waitress in New Orleans at just 19 years of age.
The surname stuck and she has gone on to rule the music world with it. Thomas had 21 albums to her name in addition to 15 other compilation albums over the years.
The 2007 Grammy award winner deserves a place on our list.
6. Tammi Terrell
The next entrant on our list Tammi Terrel didn't have much time in the music industry as she, unfortunately, passed away at the tender age of just 24.
However, during the time she was active in the industry, she left a big mark and impression even in such a short time. Terrel was active in the industry from 1960 to 1970.
During these ten years, Tammi released five studio albums, a few of them with the iconic Marvin Gaye. Terrel and Gaye's combination was well-liked back in the day. Terrel had been suffering from brain cancer during the 60s and two years before she went into a coma and passed away in 1970, she was nominated for a Grammy award in 1968.
Later, her song, "Aint no mountain high enough" was inducted into the Grammy hall of fame in 1999. She couldn't have enough time in the industry and even those she had, she was suffering. However, she left a mark in people's lives as she is remembered still today.
7. Mary Wells
Another star who died too soon, Mary Wells comes in at the number seven spot on our list.
Wells passed away aged 49 in 1992 due to cancer. She had thirty years in the industry as she was active from 1960 to 1990.
During her limited time, Wells released 13 studio albums, 2 compilation albums, and a single live album. Five of her albums are on the list of charted albums, with her Greatist hits peaking at number 18 on the U.S. chart in 1964.
Lovingly known as the "Queen of Motown," she is credited with bringing black music into radio stations during the 60s along with a few other artists.
8. Patti LaBelle
The 78-year-old Patti LaBelle is next on our list as she lands on the number eight spot.
Lovingly referred to as the "Godmother of Soul," by her fans and the listeners of soul music, LaBelle has been active in the music industry since 1960.
With 19 total albums, the two-time Grammy award winner is also the recipient of the Grammy hall of fame in 2003. She has also won numerous other awards to her name, which also includes the AMA awards.
Native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she was included in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 greatest singers of all time list.
9. Tina Turner
The ninth spot on our list is comfortably occupied by the great Tina Turner. The American-born Swiss singer was active in the industry from 1957 until 2009.
Native to Brownsville, Tennessee, she is lovingly referred to as the "Queen of Rock 'n' Roll," by her fans and listeners. Turner rose to popularity initially as a partner act with her first husband Ike Turner, before making it big on her own.
Tina has a total of 35 albums, of which 10 are studio albums. She also did twelve solo tours across the globe over the years. Considered one of the greatest singers to ever live, she has 12 Grammy awards to her name among many others.
In 1998, Turner played in front of 180,000 people, which was a record then for the most crowd attendance for a solo performer.
10. Diana Ross
Finally to conclude the list we have the former supreme Diana Ross. Ross achieved success both as a solo performer and as a member of the Supremes.
Active in the industry since 1956, the 78-year-old has 25 studio albums to her name among other albums including 5 live albums and more.
The 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Ross has 2 Grammy's and 7 AMA awards to her name among other accolades over the years.
She also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to music in 1982.
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