The Top 10 Greatest Female singers of all time

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For us, a great vocalist isn't just someone with a wide range and flawless technique, but also someone who has the ability to tell a story and use their musicality through their instrument. But of coarse that comes with having a command over your instrument in the first place. Some may possess either of these qualities and render great music with their contrivance, but then there are those rare ones who encompass all of these areas and are blessed with marvelous range and technique and depth in their interpretations at the same time.

For our list of the '10 best/greatest female singers of all time' - we have attempted to put together female artists, who come from various genres and sing in distinct fortes, but equally captivate the listeners with their godly gifts.

From the astonishing belters to the captivating crooners, here are the 'Top 10 greatest female singers of all time':

Barbra Streisand

Streisand has been one of the most versatile storytellers through a song. The Oscar winning actress, composer and balladeer not only had the lungs of steel, when it came to her belting abilities, but could also put together a theatrical show while transitioning into each of the protagonists of her songs. Streisand kicks off our list not just because of her beautiful talent, but also the longevity of her artistry and career - that has managed to entertain the masses for so many years.

Ella Fitzgerald

Fondly remembered as the queen of Jazz and 'the first lady of song', Ella Fitzgerald has been an inspiration to most female artists who came after her time. Also regarded as the Queen of scat-singing, Miss Fitzgerald had the chops to make you feel every inch of the depth of a song. Such was her subtle, yet mesmerizing power of telling a tale.

Maria Callas

One of the most influential and celebrated Opera singers of the past 100 years. Maria Callas' breathtaking command on her rich, godly voice made composer Leonard Bernstein call her the 'Bible of Opera' and it becomes evident when you hear one of her many powerful interpretations of opera standards, showcasing a sophisticated display of her command of the instrument.

Tina Turner

No other female singer had it in them to rock the stage this intensely, before Tina Turner came shimming into our television sets with her earlier hits back in the 60's. But apart from her iconic moves and gorgeous legs, Turner had the soulful intensity of a vocalist bred through an African American church and it burned vividly in whatever she chose to sing. Be it her exclaiming to 'Stay Together' or crooning to seek some 'Help', Tina always made you feel the pain of the narrative in its most raw form.

Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin had a small career and catalog, due to her early demise, but she shone bright enough in that limited time-frame to be remembered as one of the most iconic female Rock singers of all time. Joplin's ability to switch between 'Rock' to 'Bluesy' in the same song, made her one of the most charismatic performers of her time.

Etta James

The moment Etta James layed her instrument to 'At Last' - she created one of the most fondly remembered and widely played love-ballads of all time. But like most great singers - it was in a live performance - the true artistry and personality of James came to fore. Etta was one of those non-traditional singers who worked a swag in their voices to serve the purpose and meaning of a song. And as age continued to change her instrument, she continued to find ways to make her audience feel every word of the song she sang.

Gladys Knight

The rich thick tone of Gladys Knight, belting out 'Midnight Train To Georgia' has forever been etched in our memories as one of the greatest musical masterpieces in history. The music she created in collaboration with The Pips showcased her artistry to the max. With songs like 'Heard It Through The Grapevine' and 'Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me' - Knight showcased her exotic chesty voice. She is also one of the rare vocalists of her age (73 at the time of writing this) who have managed to retain their instrument almost as it was in their prime.

Nina Simone

Nina Simone was an artist of many talents. Her involvement in the Civil Rights Movements made her a cultural icon, but her contribution to music puts her in the league of the 'Gods of music.' Nina was not afraid to bare her soul on stage, and she did it so unabashedly that it took your breath away to see or hear her. The way she tells a story with a song, caressing each word with great sentimental details made for an impassioned delivery.

Aretha Franklin

The undisputed Queen of Soul. Aretha Franklin had the breathtaking ability to turn each song into her own - no matter who she covered. Franklin's raw, rusty approach towards her jaw-dropping belting abilities turned her into one of the most powerhouse performers of an era, but it was also the control she showcased while holding back on several occasions - that set her apart from her peers. With a Gospel fire in her voice that could chill your spine every time she "went in for the kill" - Franklin, no doubt, has been a singer of singers.

Whitney Houston

Of all the voices mentioned above, Houston's instrument is one that exudes almost every essence of the very art of singing. It was not just her range, technique and the most exquisite, rich tonal quality - both in her head and chest registers, but also an emotional depth and lyrical understanding that placed her on a league all by herself. Although there are many popular studio recordings, she is remembered by, her talent was showcased in its greatest detail when she performed in self-controlled live settings. Her impromptu interpretations would often stretch a 4 minute ballad into a 10 minute vocal extravaganza, which would feature her performing distinct versions of the same song - starting from her spine-tingling soft head voice, and imminently shifting to roaring gospel belts, prompting her band to follow the lead . Hers was a voice so monumental in its artistic impact, that it still lingers among young performers across all borders and boundaries.

Raise your toast for these timeless divas who have broken barriers with the sheer power of their talents. 

A few honorable mentions go to the likes of Patsy Cline, Roberta Flack, Chaka Khan, Sarah Vaughan, Karen Carpenter, Billie Holiday and Judy Garland - who we couldn't feature in our top ten, but who are some of our other favorites.

Which divas would you pick in your 'definitive 10' list?

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