The smooth vocals in a jazz song are what hook you in, winding like velvet through the air. Whether it’s a sultry baritone voice or the sweet birdsong of a soprano, it enters your ears but settles in your heart, transforming your soul with the syncopated rhythms of the music. These female American jazz vocalists have been an integral part of the history of this beloved genre and continue to influence the rising stars of today.
Known as Lady Ella and the Queen of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald was known for her crisp, pure voice and her horn-like improvisations. She was the master of scat with flawless diction and perfect tone. Her best hits are the backbone of jazz music, and she has been regarded as one of the best female vocalists of all time.
Singer, songwriter, pianist and civil rights activist, Nina Simone wove her pain, frustration and passion into every song she wrote. Her creamy vocals, ranging from alto to baritone, simultaneously stirred feelings of pain and serenity as she used her voice to imitate the message of her songs. Known for her tumultuous personal life and commitment to civil rights as much as for her music, Simone is one of the most internationally recognized female American jazz vocalists in the world.
Peggy Lee is probably best known for her ultra-sultry version of the song “Fever”, which was recorded in 1958. Her career spanned six decades and included work as a vocalist, songwriter, poet and even actress. She had a laid-back, understated style, but could interpret a song with as much skill and uniqueness as of any of her contemporaries.
These are just a few of the female American jazz vocalists that helped transform the genre into one of the most popular forms of music even today. Their songs are timeless, their voices unforgettable and their legacy continues with every new artist that emerges.