John Prine RIP. No more happy enchiladas ...
Favourite 10 singers. (2) Male - Ray Charles tops my list with room for Dylan and Christy Moore

Favourite 10 singers: (1) female - Sandy Denny and Billie Holiday head my list. But yours?

Image: Jef Aerosol
This was an evolving Salut! Live post.
It attracted gratifying reader response although most of the 33 comments originated at social media mentions of the piece, not here.
Since we're all trying to find ways of occupying ourselves in lockdown, let's revisit the theme. Just list your all-time favourite female singers, which I'l broaden to include any genre.
I will move on to men later ... The article appeared in November 2017. If you want to see how readers reacted then, check it out here.
I will reflect for a day or so and say by way of a comment below whether my own list has changed again ...
Buy Janis Joplin's Greatest Hits album at Salut! Live's Amazon record shelf by clicking on this caption

UPDATE: scroll down the article or check Comment No 24 for a revised Top 10 ... Of Nick Hornby's books - and I've read a few - High Fidelity is comfortably my favourite. If you've read it, too, you'll remember the lists.

He went for Top Fives or Five This/Five That.

At a Facebook group called Greatest Albums of All Time and Great Music!! (yes, two exclamation marks), Damian Mitchell doubled it to give his choice of the best 10 female singers.

We all like lists, or at least most of us do, whether we agree or not with their compilers, but here is Damian's (who took care to add "and no I haven't forgotten Cher or Adele (just don't rate them in my top 10"):

1 Janis Joplin

2 Etta James

3 Amy Winehouse

4 Dusty Springfield

5 Annie Lennox

6 Tina Turner

7 Debbie Harry

8 Gladys Knight

9 Signe Toly Anderson

10 Billie Holiday

My response *(I should get out more) was this ...

If any non-classical genre allowed, I’d keep 3,4,5 and 10 from Damian’s list and nominate:
1 Sandy Denny
2 Billie Holiday
3 Amy Winehouse
4 Edith Piaf
5 June Tabor
6 Dusty Springfield
7 Annie Lennox
8 Joan Baez
9 Kate Rusby
10 Sinead O’Connor
But it’s just a series of preferences, a list I could easily change on another night.

Then the fun started.

Aretha Franklin, no one else comes close - Adrian Mason

I can't believe that Aretha Franklin is missing from the list. Anita Baker too. I would put those two in the first two positions - Nick Hamlyn

All great singers but gotta add Tina Turner, Pat Benetar, Debbie Harry - Jim Harkins

Peggy Lee, Timi Yuro, Millie Jackson, Mavis Staples, Joni Mitchell, Joan Armatrading, Cat Power, Dolly, Emmylou, Linda, Madeleine Peyroux, Marianne Faithfull, Jeanie Robertson. And others already mentioned...Francoise Hardy, Eddi Reader, Barbara Dickson... - Les Rae

Janis Joplin was good. Ranking her over Aretha Franklin, or Gladys Knight is just ridiculous - Jerome Walcott

We also saw - sorry, see not saw: the thread is still going strong - votes for Stevie Nicks, Maddy Prior, Kate Bush, Toyah Willcox, Suzy Quatro, Siouxsie Sioux, Carole King, Karen Carpenter, Maria Callas, Chrissie Hynde, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Rickie Lee Jones, Annie Haslam, Roberta Flack, Mahalia Jackson, Judith Durham, Whitney "by far", Barbara Streisand and er, Olivia Newton-John others I have never heard of.

There are more. But you'd lose the will to live trying to, well, list them all. And no Helen Shapiro or Lesley Gore,

Maybe Rick Soshensky had the right idea, once he'd got over his own absolutist opinion: "No Aretha? She is #1 in my opinion. And if you're going to mix in jazz with Billie Holiday, then what about Ella Fitzgerald?
And Debbie Harry has about a one octave range. These lists of 'bests' are bulls***. Everybody likes what they like."

And yes, my own list has changed in mind several times* since I posted it.

You can also tell me if you preferred Nick Hornby's About a Boy to High Fidelity.

* This is how I explain my own change of heart: Lists are moveable feasts.

Mine has been changed and will almost certainly change again, mainly as a result of the promptings in the comments above.

There is still no room for Laura Nyro, Grace Slick, Christine Perfect, Melanie, Maggie Bell or Linda Ronstadt because I do not know/have not kept up with their work sufficiently to make a judgement. Janis Joplin never meant much to me.

Mary Black and Dolores Keane were already bubbling under and don't quite make the breakthrough.

But welcome Eddi Reader, Aretha Franklin and Dolores O'Riordan, with apologies to Edith Piaf, Annie Lennox and Joan Baez.

Couldn't quite squeeze in an Unthank, Kathryn Roberts or Eliza Carthy

My new list:

1 Sandy Denny

2 Billie Holiday

3 Amy Winehouse

4 June Tabor

5 Aretha Franklin

6 Dusty Springfield

7 Kate Rusby

8 Sinead O’Connor

9 Dolores O’Riordan

10 Eddi Reader


Bill Taylor

Karen Carpenter
Kate Bush
Laura Nyro
Stevie Nicks
Grace Slick
Ellen Foley
Nanci Griffith
Sarah McLachlan
Merrilee Rush
Patti Smith

Doug Pattie

Norma Waterson
Nina Simone
Amy Winehouse
Lucinda Williams
Joan Baez
P J Harvey
Emmylou Harris
Joni Mitchell
Eleanor Shanley
Kate McGarrigle

Colin Randall

Great list, Doug. And Bill, though I much preferred Fleetwood Mac pre-Stevie Nicks

Christelle Randall

Olivia Newton John?! Debbie Harry? Really? She’s a great artist but not sure she’s on a par with some of the others but Beyoncé should go in and Whitney
And yes ... Stevie Nicks, forgot about her

Colin Randall

I agree Stevie Nicks is a fine singer. Me, I loved Fleetwood Mac, but before she was allowed anywhere near them!

Jerry Lawton

Checkout Brittany Howard pal...and Beth Hart! No Ella? Bessie Smith? Janis Joplin? Eva Cassidy a must for me! I'd also chuck in Norah Jones. Hope all good with you guys??

John Marshall

A few others ; Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Nicks, Sharleen Spiteri, Jackie Abott, and Shania Twain ( yes, it's a daft one )

David Millward

Throw in Cassandra Wilson, Diane Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgwater, China Moses and Betty Carter.

Ian Evans

Sandy Denny
Beth Nielsen Chapman
Kathy Mattea
Gretchen Peters
Eva Cassidy
Alison Krauss
Bonnie Raitt
Natalie Merchant
Rita MacNeil
June Tabor.

Joe Banks

1) Kate Bush
2) Etta James
3) Chrissie Hynde

Joan Dawson

Ooh ... am I the only person who doesn't like Stevie Nicks? Anyway, my music knowledge is sketchy rather than encyclopaedic - but on the basis of having heard her at the Barbican would add Jessye Norman. Stayed with me. Love Emma Kirkby singing Bach. Ella Fitzgerald. Just listened to Karine Polwart and Julie Fowlis from folk world... beautiful sounds

Alan Sims

What about Eva Cassidy, Norah Jones, Carole King, Chrissie Hyndes, Martha Reeves, Tina Turner?

Stan Wilson

1. Edith Piaf
2. Billie Holiday
3. Aretha
4. Ella Fitzgerald
5. Mavis Staples
6.Amy Winehouse
7.Kate Bush
8.Joni Mitchell
9.Laura Nyro
10.Joan Armatrading

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