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6 Black Female Artists Who Changed the Music Industry

By Kehinde Adejumo | February 26, 2024

The music industry is constantly evolving: from selling records to racking up streams, we are in a new dawn of musical talent. However, when crediting trends in musical genres, we tend to leave black women out of the conversation. While there are a lot of Black artists who have made an impact, here are six female black artists that changed the game.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

1) Whitney Houston

Whitney will always be known as  “The Voice” for her gospel singing chops. She truly understood how to use her voice as an instrument. Whitney had a distinct tone that allowed her to reshape popular music. She mixed R & B, dance and pop which was revolutionary because at the time, artists couldn’t blend genres. Whitney has inspired Brandy, Jennifer Hudson, Beyoncé and many others.

2) Aretha Franklin

Aretha was the “Queen of Soul” for her rich voice and extensive range that emotionally moved people. Her most popular songs were “Respect,” “I Say a Little Prayer” and “Chain of Fools”. She was known for blending gospel and jazz into the pop world (along with R & B and Rock n’ Roll). Aretha was the voice of her generation as she stood for civil rights and women’s empowerment. She was one of the first artists to represent the times in her music. Her influence is seen in artists like Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige.

3) Tina Turner

The Queen of Rock and Roll was the first black woman on a Rolling Stones cover. What separated Tina from her rock peers was she had a raspy voice and an older demographic which was uncommon at the time. Her signature high stepping and infectious stage presence changed female choreography forever. Her impact can be seen in R&B, soul, country, blues music and pop. Tina’s influence can be seen in Rihanna, Fantasia Barrino and Ciara.

4) Janet Jackson

The Queen of Pop revolutionized music videos to be futuristic and choreography based. Janet made tours multi-faceted with back-up dancers and multiple costume changes. She is a sonic tapestry with her mixture of pop, R&B and hip hop among other genres. Janet paved the way for mainstream artists to talk about darker themes in their music. The Queen of Pop also re-negotiated her Virgin Records contract from 50 million to 80 million which was the largest deal for an artist at that time. Janet’s influence can be seen in artists like Kelly Rowland, Ashanti and Teyana Taylor.

5) Beyoncé

Queen B was the first black woman to headline Coachella and make it “Beychella.” She popularized the surprise album release by letting the music speak for itself. Beyoncé elevated hip hop culture by incorporating slang into her pop songs and making them trend. She might be known as a pop star but she has dabbled in every genre from Afrobeats to Country, she has done it all. Queen B has inspired Megan Thee Stallion, Nicki Minaj and Coco Jones among many others.


6) Brandy

Brandy was named the “Vocal Bible” for her intricate riffs and insane runs. Her album “Full Moon” gave artists a blueprint for modern RnB vocals with her vocal stacking and futuristic sound. Brandy is also known as the Queen of Braids which allowed other Black women to wear their natural hair proudly in the industry. Brandy set a standard that you don’t have to use your sexuality to get ahead in the music industry. The Vocal Bible’s influence can be seen in H.E.R., Jazmine Sullivan and Solange.

Regardless of what music you’re into, these women have made an impact in every single genre. From countless hits on the Billboard charts to breaking industry standards, these women have done it all. Next time you listen to your favorite artist, remember that these women have paved the way. Happy Black History Month!


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