Gospel music is one of the most moving, powerful, and successful genres of music in American history. During the 21st century, gospel music evolved with some of the most famous and successful names in music history making their mark on the gospel universe. Since gospel music emerged, there have been many female gospel singers who have made history.
Top 8 Female Gospel Singers of All-Time
The legacy of gospel music lives on, through new artists further evolving the genre, and through the history of incredible gospel singers like the ones below.
1. Mahalia Jackson
Mahalia Jackson is one of the most famous female gospel singers in history. During her 40-year career, Jackson sold more than 22 million albums. She was the first gospel singer to tour Europe and landed number one on the Billboard charts in 1947.
2. CeCe Winans
CeCe Winans is a multi-award-winning gospel singer and songwriter. At just 10 years old, Winans joined her church choir. By the time she was a young adult, she was making music with her brother BeBe Winans. Then, in 1999, Winans went solo with her debut solo album, Alabaster Box. It sold more than one million copies. Since then, Winans has won three Grammy Awards and numerous other awards and accomplishments.
3. Shirley Caesar
Shirley Caesar had a long 60-year career in gospel music. Called “The First Lady of Gospel”, Caesar began her career in 1958 at age 19. Since then, she has made numerous popular songs including “No Charge”, “God Will Make a Way”, and “Hold My Mule”. Caesar was awarded 12 Grammy Awards and 14 Stellar Awards. She also was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award.
4. Tamela Mann
Tamela Mann is a Texas-raised gospel singer, actress, songwriter, and business owner. With a strong Christian upbringing, Mann had no trouble performing gospel music with choirs and eventually as part of Kirk Franklin and the Family. She was later nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance.
5. Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin is one of the best-selling artists in musical history. She is considered the “Queen of Soul” and has made a deep impression on the jazz, gospel, soul, and R&B genres. Franklin’s popular gospel songs include “Wholy Holy”, “Amazing Grace”, and “O Happy Day”. Over her incredible career, Franklin held numerous honors and awards, including 18 Grammy awards. She sold more than 75 million albums. She was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
6. Yolanda Adams
Yolanda Adams is another gospel artist who has won numerous awards over their history in music. In fact, she is one of the most successful gospel artists of all time, with more than 10 million records sold. Adams gained a great deal of fame in the late 1980s and 1990s. During this time, Adams consistently made gospel albums including Just As I Am and Through The Storm. In 1999, Adams entered mainstream music with her release of Mountain High… Valley Low. During her career, Adams has won numerous Dove, Grammy, BET, and NAACP awards.
7. Della Reese
Della Reese (Delloreese Patricia Early) became a household name in her role as Tess on the show Touched by an Angel. But her career spans much more than the popular show. In fact, her career dates back decades when she was a gospel singer originally discovered by Mahalia Jackson. Her RCA single, “Don’t You Know?”, sold more than one million copies following its release in 1959.
8. Tasha Cobbs
Tasha Cobbs is an emerging gospel singer who is taking the present-day gospel by storm. She began her career in 2010 with an album called Smile. She was later signed to EMI Gospel, which resulted in her hitting the top 100 Billboard chart and winning a Grammy Award.
Like most music genres, gospel has evolved over time. What never seems to change, however, is the heart and soul of uber-talented female gospel singers like the ones on our list. The women on our list all share a passion for music and faith. Even those who have passed on continue to leave this legacy in the music industry.