Top 10 Female Singers Of The '50s, '60s, And '70s

By | January 30, 2018

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Circa 1955: American singer and actor Rosemary Clooney (1928 - 2002) sings and dances in a ballroom or on a stage, accompanied by a pianist and a band. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In the '50s, '60s, and '70s, female solo singers were ever-present on radio, TV and the pop charts -- as they should have been! While gender equality was an elusive dream in many fields, women were well represented in popular music, and the best female singers are legends. 

There were plenty of issues, to be sure. Women were judged on their appearance much more than their male counterparts. And while female singers were prominent, there were almost never any women playing instruments in the band. The music industry, like most occupational fields in history, had its own harmful gender roles, and the gist of it was that women were pretty singers and men were serious musicians.

The artistry of their music tells another story and speaks -- or sings -- for itself. Pop hits, country ballads, punk bangers and jazz standards, the best female singers' work is essential listening.

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Aretha Franklin, 1960s.

But there was a lot to celebrate as music evolved from the clean-cut '50s to the free-and-easy '70s. Was there a female Elvis or Bob Dylan? Well, no -- but was there a male Aretha Franklin? Was there a male Joni Mitchell, or a male Stevie Nicks?

The Beatles were arguably the greatest group of the period -- but many would say that their biggest chart rival wasn't the Rolling Stones or the Beach Boys, but the Supremes. 

As musicians began to write their own tunes and lyrics,female songwriters rose to the challenge as well. Carole King, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and Loretta Lynn all wrote songs from the heart about love and life, and became commercial successes in the process.