List of contraltos in non-classical music

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The contralto singing voice has a vocal range that lies between the F below "middle C" (F3) to two Fs above middle C (F5) and is the lowest type of female voice. In the lower and upper extremes, some contralto voices can sing from two Bs below middle C (B2)[1] to two Bs above middle C (B5).[2] Although both men and women may have voices in the contralto vocal range, the word is usually used only in the context of a female singer.

The term contralto was developed in relation to classical and operatic voices, where the classification is based not merely on the singer's vocal range but also on the tessitura and timbre of the voice. For classical and operatic singers, their voice type determines the roles they will sing and is a primary method of categorization. In classical music, a "pure" contralto is considered the rarest type of female voice.[3] In non-classical music, singers are primarily defined by their genre and their gender, not their vocal range.[4] When the terms soprano, mezzo-soprano, contralto, tenor, baritone, and bass are used as descriptors of non-classical voices, they are applied more loosely than they would be to those of classical singers and generally refer only to the singer's perceived vocal range. Contemporarily, the informal term alto is sometimes used interchangeably with contralto.[5]

The following is a list of singers in country, popular music, jazz, and musical theatre[a] who have been described as contraltos.

List of names[edit]

Name Lifespan Nationality Associated act(s) Ref.
Oleta Adams 1953– American [6][7][8]
Sade Adu 1959– Nigerian-British Sade [9][10][11]
Christina Amphlett 1959–2013 Australian Divinyls [12]
Emma Anderson 1967– British Lush [13]
Ernestine Anderson 1928–2016 American [14][15][16]
Signe Toly Anderson 1941–2016 American Jefferson Airplane [17][18][19]
Inez Andrews 1929–2012 American [20][21][22]
Anggun 1974– Indonesian [23]
Fiona Apple 1977– American [24][25][26]
India.Arie 1975– American [27]
Joan Armatrading 1950– British [28][29][30]
Emilie Autumn 1979– American [31]
Nadezhda Babkina 1950– Russian [32]
Anita Baker 1958– American Chapter 8 [33][34][35]
LaVern Baker 1929–1997 American [36]
Shirley Bassey 1937– British [37]
Beverly Bivens 1946– American We Five [38]
Angela Bofill 1954– American [39]
Ann Boleyn 1960– American [40]
Brandy 1979– American [41]
Liz Brasher American[42] [43]
Toni Braxton 1967– American The Braxtons [44][45][46]
Ruth Brown 1928–2006 American [47]
Carla Bruni 1967– Italian-French [48][49]
Alexandra Burke 1988– English [50][51]
Anna Calvi 1990– English [52][53][54]
Brandi Carlile 1981– American [55]
Ana Carolina 1974– Brazilian [56][57]
Karen Carpenter 1950–1983 American The Carpenters [58][59][60]
Tracy Chapman 1964– American [61][62][63][64]
Cher 1946– American Sonny & Cher [65][66][67][68]
Neneh Cherry 1964– Swedish [69]
Gabriella Cilmi 1991–[70] or 1992–[71] Australian [71][72]
Patsy Cline 1932–1963 American [73][74][75]
Rosemary Clooney 1928–2002 American [76]
Alexis Cole 1976– American [77][78]
Shawn Colvin 1956– American [79][80][81]
Celia Cruz 1924–[82] or 1925[83]-2003 Cuban [82][84][85][86]
Sharon Cuneta 1966–- Filipino [87]
Brody Dalle 1979– Australian [88][89][90]
Grisel D'Angelo 1990– Argentine [91]
Doris Day 1922– American [92]
Kim Deal 1961– American [93]
Lana Del Rey 1985–[94] or 1986–[95] American [95][96]
Marlene Dietrich 1901–1992 German [97]
Ani DiFranco 1970– American [98]
Lila Downs 1968– Mexican [99]
Corinne Drewery 1959– English Swing Out Sister [100]
Cass Elliot 1941–1974 American The Mamas and the Papas [101][102][103]
Gloria Estefan 1957– Cuban-American Miami Sound Machine [104][105]
Siobhan Fahey 1958– Irish Bananarama [106]
Mary Fahl 1958– American October Project [107][108][109]
Alice Faye 1915–1998 American [110][111][112]
Ruth Fernández 1919–2012 Puerto Rican [113][114]
Sky Ferreira 1992– American [115]
Carrie Fisher 1956-2016 American [116][117][118]
Roberta Flack 1937– American [119][120]
Mary Ford 1924–1977 American Les Paul and Mary Ford [121]
Julia Fordham 1962– English [122][123][124]
Anne Francine 1917–1999 American [125][126][127]
Jane Froman 1907–1980 American [128]
Shannon Funchess 1971/1972–[129] American Light Asylum [129][130][131]
Judy Garland 1922–1969 American [132][133][134]
Sara Gazarek 1982– American [135][136][137][138]
Bobbie Gentry 1944– American [139]
Lisa Gerrard 1961– Australian Dead Can Dance [140][141][142]
Beth Gibbons 1965– British Portishead [143][144][145]
Ronnie Gilbert 1926–2015 American The Weavers [146][147][148]
Kim Gordon 1953– American [149]
Alejandra Guzman 1968– Mexican [150]
Toni Halliday 1964– British Curve [151]
Rosalie "Rosie" Hamlin 1945–2017 American Rosie and the Originals [152]
Beth Hart 1972– American [153]
PJ Harvey 1969– British The Desert Sessions [154][155][156]
Lalah Hathaway 1968- American [157][158][159]
Imogen Heap 1977– British Frou Frou [160]
Lauryn Hill 1975– American Fugees [161][162]
Billie Holiday 1915–1959 American [163][164]
Chrissie Hynde 1951– American The Pretenders [165][166][167]
Mahalia Jackson 1911–1972 American [168][169][170]
Wanda Jackson 1937– American [47]
Etta James 1938–[171] or 1939[172]–2012 American [171][172][173]
Zola Jesus 1989– American [174][175][176]
Scarlett Johansson 1984– American [177][178]
Ada Jones 1873–1922 English-American [179]
Grace Jones 1948– Jamaican [180][181][182]
Norah Jones 1979– American [183][184][185]
Barb Jungr 1954– British [186]
Patricia Kaas 1966–[187] or 1967–[188] French [188]
Trish Keenan 1968–2011 British Broadcast [189]
Alicia Keys 1981– American [190][191]
Chaka Khan 1953– American Rufus [192][193][194]
Morgana King 1930–2018 American [195]
Gladys Knight 1944– American Gladys Knight & the Pips [196][197][198]
Diana Krall 1964– Canadian [199][200][201]
Lady Gaga 1986- American [202][203][204]
Ladyhawke 1979– New Zealand [205][206][207]
Queen Latifah 1970– American [208]
Maysa Leak 1966– American Incognito [209][210]
Peggy Lee 1920–2002 American [211][212]
Victoria Legrand 1981– French-American Beach House [213][214][215]
Annie Lennox 1954– Scottish [216][217][218]
Jenny Lewis 1976– American Rilo Kiley [219][220][221]
Dua Lipa 1995– English [222][223][224]
Courtney Love 1964– American Hole [225]
Shelby Lynne 1968– American [226][227][228]
Amy Macdonald 1987– Scottish [229][230][231]
Audra Mae 1984– American [232][233][234]
Clare Maguire 1988– British [235]
Shirley Manson 1966– Scottish [236][237][238]
Laura Marling 1990– British Noah and the Whale [239][240][241]
Chan "Cat Power" Marshall 1972– American [242][243]
Imelda May 1974– Irish [244]
Earl-Jean McCrea 1942– American The Cookies [152]
Reba McEntire 1955– American [245][246][247]
Christine McVie 1943– British Fleetwood Mac [248]
Natalie Merchant 1963– American 10,000 Maniacs [249][250]
Holly Miranda 1982– American The Jealous Girlfriends [251]
Joni Mitchell 1943– Canadian [252][253]
Pamela Morgan 1957– Canadian Figgy Duff [254]
Sarah Jane Morris 1959– English [255]
Alison Mosshart 1978– American [256]
Ana Moura 1979– Portuguese [257][258][259]
Alison Moyet 1961– English [260][261][262]
Anita Mui 1963–2003 Hong Kong [263][264]
Samantha Mumba 1983– Irish [265][266][267]
Róisín Murphy 1973– Irish Moloko [268][269][270]
Anne Murray 1945– Canadian [271][272][273]
Akina Nakamori 1965– Japanese [274]
Meshell Ndegeocello 1968– German-American [275][276][277]
Jennifer Nettles 1974– American Sugarland [278][279][280]
Scout Niblett 1973– British [281][282]
Stevie Nicks 1948– American Fleetwood Mac [283][284][285]
Nico 1938–1988 German The Velvet Underground [286]
Anita O'Day 1919–2006 American [287]
Odetta 1930–2008 American [265][288][289]
Beth Orton 1970–[290] or 1971–[291] English [292]
Patti Page 1927–2013 American [293]
Amanda Palmer 1976– American [294]
Pink 1979– American
[295]
Ruth Pointer 1946– American The Pointer Sisters [296]
Omara Portuondo 1930– Cuban [297][298][299]
Dianne Reeves 1956– American [300][301][302]
Hannah Reid 1989– English London Grammar [303][304][305]
Debbie Reynolds 1932–2016 American [306]
Happy Rhodes 1965– American [307]
Lætitia Sadier 1968– French [308]
Hope Sandoval 1966– American [309]
Aicelle Santos 1985– Filipino La Diva [310][311][312][313]
Cristina Scabbia 1972– Italian [314]
Alynda Lee Segarra 1986/1987–[315] American Hurray for the Riff Raff [98]
Shakira 1977– Colombian [67][316]
Helen Shapiro 1946– British [317]
Fatin Shidqia 1996– Indonesian [318]
Carly Simon 1945– American [319][320]
Nina Simone 1933–2003 American [321][322][323]
Siouxsie Sioux 1957– English [324]
Grace Slick 1939– American [325][326][327]
Bessie Smith 1894–1937 American [328][329]
Mamie Smith 1883–[330] or 1890[331]–1946[330] American [332]
Patti Smith 1946– American Patti Smith Group [333][334][335]
Carly Smithson 1983– Irish We Are the Fallen [336]
Phoebe Snow 1950–2011 American Sisters of Glory [337][338][339]
Mercedes Sosa 1935–2009 Argentine [340][341][342]
Sharleen Spiteri 1967– Scottish Texas [343]
Lisa Stansfield 1966– British Blue Zone [344][345]
Mavis Staples 1939– American The Staple Singers [346][347][348]
Joss Stone 1987– British SuperHeavy [349]
Susan Tedeschi 1970– American Tedeschi Trucks Band [350]
Toni Tennille 1940– American Captain & Tennille [351][352][353]
Tracey Thorn 1962– English [354][355][356]
Tanita Tikaram 1969– German-British [357]
Mary Timony 1970– American [358]
Jill Tracy American [359]
Mary Travers 1936–2009 American Peter, Paul and Mary [360]
Tanya Tucker 1958– American [361]
KT Tunstall 1975– Scottish [362][363][364]
Paola Turci 1964– Italian [365]
Tina Turner 1939– American Ike & Tina Turner [366][367][368]
Shania Twain 1965– Canadian [369]
Bonnie Tyler 1951– Welsh [370]
Sharon Van Etten 1981– American [371]
Helenita Vargas 1934–2011 Colombian [372]
Sarah Vaughan 1924–1990 American [373][374][375]
Suzanne Vega 1959– American [376]
Albertina Walker 1929–2010 American [377][378][379]
Dionne Warwick 1940– American
[380]
Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins 1970– American TLC [381][382]
Barrett Wilbert Weed 1988– American [383][384]
Florence Welch 1986– British Florence and the Machine [385][386][387][388]
Mae West 1893–1980 American [389]
Paula West 1959– American [390][391][392]
Trixie Whitley 1987– Belgian Black Dub[393] [393][394]
Cassandra Wilson 1954–[395] or 1955–[396] American M-Base [395][397][398]
Amy Winehouse 1983–2011 English [399][400][401]
Lizz Wright 1980– American [402][403][404]
Timi Yuro 1940–2004 American [405]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ For a detailed description of the differences between the operatic and musical theatre voice see Björkner, Eva, Why so different? Aspects of voice characteristics in operatic and musical theatre singing, KTH School of Computer Science and Communication, 2006 (ISBN 9171785183)

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Works cited[edit]

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