Aretha Franklin, known as the Queen of Soul, has defined soul music with songs such as “Respect” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”.
But Etta James is not alone when it comes to female soul artists – other notable female soul singers include Patti Labelle from Patti Labelle and the Bluebelles fame, and Etta James.
Corinne Bailey Rae
Corinne Bailey Rae has an acute understanding of music’s transformative powers. Her soulful pop is informed by choral church music, classical jazz, Led Zeppelin and Veruca Salt; while her melodic yet gentle vocals resonate beautifully atop an idyllic backing of pianos and guitars.
First making her mark with her self-titled debut album in 2008, which earned Brit and Grammy nominations as well as widespread acclaim with feelgood hits such as “Put Your Records On,” she then took time out after the 2008 death of Jason Rae to focus on healing herself; upon return with The Sea she tackled both personal grief as well as that of fans with another powerful album that addresses loss and bereavement head on.
Heartfelt and acoustic album “Watershed” showcases her talent as a songwriter with rich arrangements and melodies that showcase her writing prowess. Additionally, River is evidence of her adept reinterpreting skills as demonstrated by Joni Mitchell tribute album she produced back in 2011: River.
Corinne Bailey Rae is an immensely gifted artist who has collaborated with both funk group The New Mastersounds and Leeds-based ska outfit Homecut Directive, among other groups. She has performed at several major stages – such as BBC Proms in the Park and Later… with Jools Holland. Corinne boasts over two million Twitter followers and nearly equal numbers on Instagram; All American Speakers Bureau can assist with booking her to perform live at your corporate event or private party!
Angie Stone is one of the most iconic female singers in modern soul music. She began her career by joining Sequence, one of the first female electro-rap groups. Sequence scored their biggest hit ever with “Funk You Up.” Later she recorded for Sugar Hill records before venturing into singing jingles full-time.
By 35, Stone had built up an impressive career as both an R&B/soul artist and actress. She made her film debut as Madame Mambuza in The Hot Chick and appeared as a guest star on Girlfriends; additionally her debut album Black Diamond became an international smash hit that year.
Mahogany Soul was released by Stone in 2001 and immediately created an impressionful buzz. This album creatively updated classic soul through samples and other manifestations of hip-hop techniques; paying homage to vocalists such as Gladys Knight through sampled passages (such as Knight’s “Neither One of Us”, which can be heard on “No More Rain (In This Cloud)”) while making use of Rufus’ 70s funk styles.
Once she left Clive Davis’ J Records in 2005, Stone quickly found a home at revitalized Stax Records. Her 2007 release The Art of Love & War reached number one on R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart while her recent offering Love Language shows an artist not afraid to address race and sexual issues through song.
Jill Scott has quickly established herself as one of the premier R&B artists and songwriters in recent years, graced countless albums and movie soundtracks with her soulful vocals, while Blessed Music represents her growth as both lyricist and composer.
Scott started her career on April 4, 1972 in Philadelphia as a spoken word artist who performed poetry readings and events, later joining a theater troupe that performed Rent. Scott would sing regularly at Black Lily spoken word and song showcase events; these performances eventually caught Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s eye and invited her to co-compose “You Got Me” with them.
With her 2000 debut album, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1, Jill Scott quickly established herself as an integral member of Philly-based neo-soul movement. Other members included D’Angelo’s 1995 Brown Sugar album, Maxwell’s 1996 Urban Hang Suite release Urban Hang Suite by Maxwell, Erykah Badu’s 1997 Baduizm album Baduizm album by Erykah Badu as well as Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album released in 1999. While taking inspiration from hip hop artists, neo soul artists sought to bring back spirituality as well as sound glory found within classic soul music genre.
Scott’s jazz-infused vocal style and insightful lyrics helped revolutionize modern soul music. Not only has she released albums under her own name, she has written songs for other musicians as well; three Grammy Award nominations stand as testament to this accomplishment. Beyond music, Scott is actively engaged in her community by supporting various charitable endeavors including the FFWAN Charity, Save the Music Foundation, HollyRod Foundation and United Negro College Fund among many others.
Gladys Knight is an iconic soul music female singer best known as part of Gladys Knight and the Pips. Additionally, she achieved great success as a solo artist and was named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of their 100 Greatest Singers – earning both a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame and being bestowed the National Medal of Arts award.
Born in Georgia, Gladys Knight first made her mark as a gospel music singer after winning Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour television talent contest in 1952. From there she formed Gladys Knight and the Pips along with brother Merald “Bubba” Knight, sister Brenda, cousin Edward Patten, Langston George and Eleanor Rossi (the original members left after 1959) before eventually adopting Gladys Knight as lead vocalist and changing their name accordingly.
The unique sound of Motown Pips was inspired by their southern roots and gospel upbringing, and its signature raspy-textured voice of Knight was combined with their ability to create harmony through contrasts – two key ingredients that cemented Motown’s legacy at that time.
Knight became one of the group’s star members with number one hits such as “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “Licence to Kill.” Later, she achieved solo success as she released several albums and movies; furthermore, she collaborated with many acclaimed artists such as Dionne Warwick and Stevie Wonder in performing concerts together.
Etta James was an iconic R&B and pop singer during her lifetime, first becoming famous with The Peaches singing group who scored hits such as “Roll With Me Henry.” Later she ventured out on her own to experiment with rock music as well as jazz & blues fans alike adored her beautiful voice and powerful lyrics.
In 1960, she signed with Chess Records and recorded romantic ballads. Mack Gordon and Harry Warren’s song “At Last,” often heard at weddings, is her most iconic rendition and has become an orchestral classic over time. However, her 1988 album Seven Year Itch demonstrated that she could also perform soul music effectively.
Though successful, she struggled with drugs. Her unpredictable behavior and difficult relationships threatened to derail her career until finally becoming sober by the early 1980s and returning to performing small-town concerts and large blues festivals.
Later in her career, she received both the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. She continued touring and producing albums while being credited as an influence on numerous modern female soul singers such as Dionne Warwick.
Aretha Franklin was an extraordinary force who united people around a common experience of beauty, love and hope. She personified African-American spiritual music, blues and R&B; moreover she personified black womanhood as a site for radical social, political and philosophical possibilities.
Aretha was initially shy by nature, but quickly learned to project her voice and use her body for powerful stage presence. Soon enough she became one of the biggest recording stars around; selling out theaters, appearing as guest stars on prime-time television programs and garnering top billing nightclub bookings were just part of her repertoire.
However, she truly shined in gospel music. Amazing Grace (1972), a live album featuring her performances with choir accompaniment is widely regarded as one of the greatest gospel albums ever produced.
Aretha earned her first two Grammy awards for Chain of Fools, Respect and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman recorded during the late ’60s. Additionally, she was an accomplished pianist as well as being an devoted mother and grandma who eventually turned philanthropist.