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50 female pop pioneers

It's the 50th anniversary of Edith Piaf's death and we're still moved every time Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien rolls out of a speaker. The legendary French singer made her mark on the world with her gutsy unique voice and poignant ballads, which captured the spirit of post-war France.

The last five decades have seen female artists, like Edith, bring energy and excitement to popular music, consistently infusing the genre with new looks, sounds and meanings. What is it that makes a pop star truly brilliant? Is it a distinctive voice like Bjork’s, empowering lyrics such as Beyonce’s, or an incredible gift for song-writing (step up, Annie Lennox) - or a mixture of all of these things?

From queens of reinvention to voices that can’t help but move us (thank you Edith), we take a look at the greatest 50 female pop pioneers of all time in the gallery below.

Click on an image below to launch the gallery. Do you agree with our choices? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter.

Picture credits: Rex Features

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Adele

    Since breaking out on the British charts in 2007, with her debut single Hometown Glory, Adele has gone on to win respect in the music industry (and an impressive haul of awards) for her deeply personal lyrics, emotive concert performances and her distinct non-conformist look. The Guardian named her most powerful person in the music industry in 2011.

    Greatest hit: Someone Like You

    Vital stats: With her second album 21 going platinum 10 times, Adele was the first female in history to have two singles and two albums simultaneously in the UK top 5 chart.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Kylie Minogue

    The original soap actress to make a successful transition into music, Kylie's career has spanned an impressive two decades. Known for her visually spectacular shows and ever-evolving image, Kylie has also triumphed through adversity during her career, including a difficult battle with breast cancer in 2005. She was awarded an OBE in 2008 for her services to music.

    Greatest hit: Can't Get You Out Of My Head

    Vital stats: Kylie has recorded eleven studio albums and has achieved in excess of 68 million record sales worldwide.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Madonna

    Madonna may have shot to fame in the early eighties for her risqué performances and stage costumes, but her enduring influence in the world of pop has been for being the mistress of reinvention. With groundbreaking albums like Erotica, True Blue and Like a Virgin to her name, Madonna's music was lauded for it's frank, fresh (and at times sexually explicit) quality.

    Greatest hit: Vogue

    Vital stats: The seven-time grammy winner has sold over 300 million records worldwide and is named the top selling female recording artist in The Guiness Book Of Records.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Lady Gaga

    Outlandish outfits aside, Lady Gaga's influence on pop culture has been stratospheric in the three years since she released her debut album The Fame. With music that rails against sexual/social discrimination and satirises celebrity culture, Gaga's appeal has become a global phenomenon.

    Greatest hit: Poker Face

    Vital stats: From her two albums, The Fame and Born This Way, Gaga has sold over 20 million albums, won 3 Brits, 5 Grammy's. The track 'Born this way' was the fastest selling single on iTunes to date.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Beyoncé

    As one of the most successful female solo artists worldwide, its hardly surprising that Beyoncé was in the Forbes top twenty most powerful women of 2011. With her energetic sets and empowering lyrics, the first night of her '4' album tour sold out in 22 seconds.

    Greatest hit: Irreplaceable

    Vital stats: With a total of 16 Grammies under her belt, Beyonce broke the world record for the greatest number of awards won in a single night (6 gongs) at the annual ceremony in 2010.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Gwen Stefani

    Since going solo from No Doubt in 2004, Gwen Stefani's ecclectic brand of pop won her instant critical praise - confidently straddling genres as diverse as Ska, Hip-hop, Electro and 80s Synth. Her outlandish outfits and irreverant shows have drawn comparisons to Madonna and she has managed a successful transition in to fashion with her two lines L.A.M.B and Harajuku Lovers.

    Greatest hit: Hollaback Girl

    Vital stats: Having only recorded two studio albums, Love.Angel.Music.Baby and The Sweet Escape, her records have gone platinum 25 times worldwide and she is worth an estimated $80 million.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Mariah Carey

    The ultimate diva, both on and off stage, Mariah’s incredible five-octave voice made her the best-selling female performer of the 1990s. Her 1990 self-titled debut LP was an overnight sensation, creating four number one singles. The follow-up, 1991's Emotions, was also a hit, setting the path for phenomenal chart success.

    Greatest hit: Fantasy

    Vital stats: Five Grammy awards, 17 World Music Awards and 31 Billboard Music Awards.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Florence Welch

    The flame-haired singer's richly textured voice, coupled with her dramatic performance-style, was a welcome tonic in the music industry upon the release of Lungs in 2008. With a unique musical sound, straddling the genres of rock, pop, soul and gospel, Florence achieved immediate and lasting commercial success.

    Greatest hit: You've Got The Love

    Vital stats: Florence & The Machine's Lungs won the Mastercard British album of the year at the Brit Awards in 2009, and have been nominated for both the Mercury Prize and a Grammy.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Whitney Houston

    As the cousin of singers Dee Dee Warwick and Dionne Warwick, Whitney was fairly much destined for superstardom and began singing at an early age. In the early 1980s she was spotted in a New York nightclub and immediately signed to Arista Records. Three best-selling albums later and she made her movie debut in The Bodyguard, giving rise to the biggest selling commercial single in history.

    Greatest hit: I Will Always Love You

    Vital stats: With over 170 million combined album, singles and video sales, Whitney is the only artist to chart seven consecutive #1 Billboard Hot 100 hits AND the only artist with seven consecutive multi-platinum albums.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Britney Spears

    Originally pitted as the girl-next-door, Britney Spears has seen more reinventions and personal dramas than your average 29-year-old. Following a very public breakdown in 2008, the pop star returned to the charts with mother of all comebacks - her seventh studio album Femme Fetale.

    Greatest hit: Baby One More Time

    Vital stats: Despite being nominated for 30 MTV Video music awards, Britney has won only six during her career. Nonetheless, the popstar has an estimated net-worth of $155 million.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Christina Aguilera

    Another musical artist to have emerged from from Disney show The Mickey Mouse Club, Christina's booming voice and tiny stature made her instantly recognisable in the late nineties. Never one to stick to a single genre, Christina's repertoire shifts seamlessly from bubblegum pop to heart-breaking power ballads.

    Greatest hit: Genie In A Bottle

    Vital stats: In addition to her four Grammy awards, Christina Aguilera has also been nominated for two golden globe awards (for features songs in the films Mulan and Burlesque). Her debut album alone has sold over eight million copies.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Cher

    The Goddess of Pop has embraced the genre like a pro, with more reinventions than we’ve had hot dinners. Cher’s Eureka moment came when she was hired by record producer Phil Spector in the early 1960s. Sonny & Cher soon followed, with the flower duo ruling the next decade. In the late 90s, Cher scored another unexpected hit with Believe which reached #1 in 23 different countries.

    Greatest hit: Believe

    Vital stats: The only singer to have earned top 10 hit singles in four consecutive decades.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    The Spice Girls

    The formation of the Spice Girls in 1994 was a breath of fresh air in the music industry: increasingly dominated by Brit-pop boy bands like Take That, Oasis and Blur, the girls tapped into the hearts of a generation of young girls and women with their 'Girl Power' slogan and girls-next-door image.

    Greatest hit: Wannabe

    Vital stats: The Spice Girls have sold over 55 million records worldwide and have amassed an impressive number of awards, including five Brit awards.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Annie Lennox

    Singer-songwriter Annie is known and loved the world over for her soulful voice and poignant lyrics. She first found fame with pop duo Eurythmics in 1979, before setting up as a solo artist in 1990. Her debut album Diva won rave reviews and sold six million copies worldwide, cementing her status as an iconic performer.

    Greatest hit: Walking On Broken Glass

    Vital stats: Eight BRIT awards and over 80 million record sales to date.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Rihanna

    Rihanna was first spotted when she auditioned as part of a girl band aged 15. A few years later she landed a performance in front of Def Jam Records’ president Jay-Z and was signed on the spot. After a promising she transformed her image into fully fledged superstar and sex symbol in 2007 with the launch of her third album featuring the smash hit Umbrella. She remains of the biggest-selling female artists of today, having sold over 10 million records in the UK alone.

    Greatest hit: Umbrella

    Vital stats: Rihanna has won an eye-watering 131 awards to date, including three Grammys and 18 Billboard Music Awards.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Tina Turner

    Bridging the gap between pop and rock, Tina is the undisputed owner of one of THE most powerful voices in music history. A legend among performers, she has spent the last half decade belting out hit after hit and overcoming massive personal trauma at the same time (as anyone who's seen What's Love Got To Do With It will attest). Now 71, she is still going strong.

    Greatest hit: Simply The Best

    Vital stats: Winner of nine Grammy awards and seven Billboard Music Awards. Lifetime Achievement Award winner at the 1999 MOBOs.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Edith Piaf

    Considered to be one of the greatest French singers of the 20th century, Edith ‘La Mome’ Piaf made her mark on the world of popular music through her poignant and moving ballads. Having worked her way from the music halls of Paris to Carnegie hall, Piaf’s professional and personal life played out heavily in the press and the singer battled with drug addiction in her later years.

    Greatest hit:Je Ne Regrette Rien

    Vital stats:Piaf’s classic song La Vie En Rose was incorporated into the Grammy hall of fame in 1998, despite originally being nominated (and failing to win) a Grammy in 1963.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Diana Ross

    As one of the most successful female singers of all time, Diana Ross is famed the world over for her searing and incredibly wide-ranging voice. As lead singer of The Supremes, she notched up a string of number one Motown hits in the 1960s before launching a widely successful solo singing and film career. Though she later garnered column inches for problems in her personal life, Diana remains a giant in music history, having sold over 100 million records.

    Greatest hit: Ain't No Mountain High Enough

    Vital stats: With 18 US number one singles and 61 studio albums, Diana is among a handful of female artists with the most number ones on the Hot 100. She is also in the rare position of having two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame - one as a solo artist and the other as a member of The Supremes.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Lulu

    Lulu makes us all wanna shout with her place in history as one of the biggest-selling British female singers of the 1960s. Boom Bang-a-Bang earnt her the elusive accolade of joint winner at the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest. A Bond theme tune and TV success followed, firmly establishing Lulu a lifelong place in the nation's heart.

    Greatest hit: Shout

    Vital stats: Lulu is the only female artist to have appeared on Top Of the Pops in each of the last five decades. She was also the first British female singer to appear live behind the Iron Curtain, when she toured Poland in 1966.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Chaka Khan

    With her zany stage outfits and upbeat disco ballads, Chaka Khan was - and still is - a buzzword for female power and fun. Finding early success with funk band Rufus in the late 70s, she went onto establish a name for herself as a solo artist, with I'm Every Woman flying off the shelves as a platinum hit in 1978. A string of kick-ass performances and best-selling albums later, and there's no doubting she really is.

    Greatest hit: I'm Every Woman

    Vital stats: 10 Grammy awards (including two with Rufus) and a BET Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, to name but a few.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Celine Dion

    Talent was evident from an early age in Celine, with the singer recording nine albums in her native Canada by the time she was 18. Her career went international in 1988 when she won the Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin, swiftly followed by her first English language album, Unison, in 1990. My Heart Will Go On, her soundtrack for the blockbuster Titantic, became one of the most-played radio hits around the world upon its release in 1997.

    Greatest hit: My Heart Will Go On

    Vital stats: Five Grammy Awards, 12 World Music Awards and a best original song Oscar for My Heart Will Go On, among many others. Forbes estimated Celine's personal fortune in 2008 at around $100 million.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Debbie Harry

    What’s not to love about Debbie Harry? The legendary punk icon has sold over 30 million records since she first appeared on the music scene as one half of new wave band Blondie in the 1970s. Alongside commercial success, she became an international sex symbol (albeit a very cool one) and featured on the front of Rolling Stone magazine in 1979. Eventually, Debbie went solo and launched a career in films, but Blondie reformed in the 1990s and are still touring now.

    Greatest hit: Heart of Glass

    Vital stats: Heart of Glass won a Juno Award for Best Selling Single in 1980 and Blondie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Gloria Estefan

    With over 100 million record sales to her name, Cuban star Gloria Estefan is widely credited with bringing Latin music to the main stream. Her major breakthrough came in 1984, when her and her husband’s band, Miami Sound Machine, scored a crossover hit with their first English album Eyes of Innocence. From then on, Gloria’s career stratosphered, with record hits and sell-out tours throughout the next three decades.

    Greatest hit: Oye mi Canto (Hear my Voice)

    Vital stats: Seven Grammy awards and one of the most successful Hispanic singers of all time.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Jennifer Lopez

    The hip-swivelling and super-talented Jennifer Lopez started her career as a dancer, before crossing over into films and then music. Her debut Latin pop album, On the 6, was released in 1999 and went platinum within two weeks. The 2001 follow-up J.Lo debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, with five more studio albums to follow, making J.Lo a true pop diva and a highly influential Hispanic singer (not to mention her movie and fashion career).

    Greatest hit: Jenny From The Block

    Vital stats: Three American Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards and record sales of over 55 million worldwide.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Shakira

    Shakira’s original fusion of Latin, rock, and Arabic influences has made her a major player in the music industry from the mid-1990s onwards. Her first major breakthrough came with the album Pies Descalzos ("bare feet") which sold more than 3 million copies on release in 1996. Her first English-language album, 2001’s Laundry Service, sold more than 200,000 copies in the first week. She continues to tour extensively and is prized for her dexterous belly dance moves as well as her music.

    Greatest hit: Underneath Your Clothes

    Vital stats: Two Grammy Awards, seven Latin Grammy Awards and three American Music Awards.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Taylor Swift

    She may be just 21 years old, but country star Taylor Swift has amassed enormous record sales – not to mention an estimated personal fortune $45 million – thanks to her unique talent for singing and autobiographical song-writing. Her self-titled debut album sold 39,000 copies within its first week and her second album, Fearless, hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 2008. To date, Taylor has sold over 20 million albums, 34 million singles and 34.5 million digital tracks worlwide.

    Greatest hit: Today Was a Fairytale

    Vital stats: Four Grammys and 13 Teen Choice Awards, among many others. Her album Speak Now is also listed in the 2012 Guinness Book Of World Records as the Fastest Selling Digital Album by a Female Artist.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Bjork

    A highly distinctive voice and blend of musical genres (classical, folk and rock to name a few) secured Icelandic singer-songwriter Bjork a place in pop music history. Never afraid of a challenge, either in terms of music or sartorial taste (who could forget that swan outfit?), she hit the spotlight with her band The Sugarcubes in the 1980s before releasing her first solo album Debut in 1993 – which sold millions of copies worldwide.

    Greatest hit: It's Oh So Quiet

    Vital stats: With four Brit awards and four MTV Video Music Awards, Bjork was also rated number 8 on MTV's "22 Greatest Voices in Music" in 2005.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Amy Winehouse

    The late Amy Winehouse was hailed as one of the greatest talents of her generation, with soulful lyrics and a gritty, unique jazz voice akin to the likes of Dusty Springfield and Billie Holiday. Her 2003 debut album Frank received critical acclaim but it was not until 2006’s Back To Black that she achieved fame on a global scale. Despite her untimely death at the age of 27 earlier this year, Amy’s legacy as one of music’s largest and most colourful talents lives on.

    Greatest hit: Rehab

    Vital stats: Amy became the first British female to win five Grammys in a single night after Back To Black’s release. The album sold nearly 2 million copies in the UK alone in 2007.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Jane Birkin's first foray into pop came with censorship. Her and Serge Gainsbourg’s uber-seductive track Je t'aime moi non plus caused worldwide controversy in 1969, due to its oral simulation of a sex scene. It was banned by the Vatican and the BBC but surged to the top of music charts across Europe. Jane’s first solo album Di Doo Dah, was released in 1973. As Gainsbourg’s muse, she continued his legacy with poignant performances following his death in 1991.

    Greatest hit: Je T'Aime...Moi Non Plus

    Vital stats: Jane Birkin has released 14 studio albums to date.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Grace Jones

    Whether it was for her androgynous looks, manly voice or role in A View to Kill, Grace Jones has been an enduring pop and style icon for over thirty years. Jones masterfully combined disco, dance and pop to create a sound that has been unique to her only. Having sold over half a million records, Jones is still touring at the age of 61.

    Greatest hit: Pull Up To The Bumper

    Vital stats: Grace has been incorporated into VH1’s 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll and nominated for one Grammy and MTV VMA respectively.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Cyndi Lauper

    An 80s kid at heart, Cyndi Lauper burst onto the scene in 1983 with debut release She's So Unusual. The album was an overnight sensation, smashing the charts as she became the first female artist in history to have five top-10 singles from a debut record. From pop to blues to dance-rock, Cyndi is expert at reinventing genres and last year released her 11th studio album, Memphis Blues, to critical acclaim.

    Greatest hit: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

    Vital stats: Six Grammy awards, three MTV Video Music Awards and record sales of over 30 million.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Alicia Keys

    A piano-prodigy from a young age, Alicia Keys released her multi-award winning album Songs in A Minor at the tender age of twenty one. Named by People magazine as one of the breakthrough stars of 2001, Alicia Keys’ music is has made its mark on the industry for its self-penned lyrics, soulful direction and urban relevance. She is also deeply involved with philanthropic projects, including raising greater awareness of AIDS and breast cancer.

    Greatest hit: Fallin’

    Vital stats: All three of her albums – Songs in A Minor, The Diary of Alicia Keys and As I Am – have gone multi-platinum, and earned Alicia ten Billboard awards and fourteen Grammys.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    PJ Harvey

    Hailing from Dorset, Polly Jean Harvey was originally part of a trio that released music under the moniker ‘PJ Harvey’. Having dissolved in 2003, she continued working as a solo artist, with her music praised for its intensity and diverse instrumental influences. PJ Harvey’s theatrical performance style has also transformed her into an unlikely style icon.

    Greatest hit: Henry Lee (duet with Nick Cave)

    Vital stats: PJ Harvey is one of the few artists to have won the Mercury prize for music twice, in both 2001 and 2011.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Róisín Murphy

    Originally part of electro-duo Moloko, Roisin Murphy launched her solo career in 2005 with her debut album Ruby Blue. Murphy’s music was pioneering for its ability to lace electro-synth influences with popular jazz and pop elements.

    Greatest hit: Overpowered

    Vital stats: To date, Murphy has only released two solo albums, Ruby Blue and Overpowered.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Aretha Franklin

    Dubbed the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin’s booming voice and original songs have made her an international treasure. With a chain of hits in the 60s – including Respect, Chain of Fools and I Say A Little Prayer – that soon became classic Motown records, Aretha’s songs are among the most covered in the world today.

    Greatest hit: Think

    Vital stats: The singer was given 18 Grammy awards, making her the second most awarded female in Grammy history.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Siouxsie Sioux

    As lead singer of the band Sioxsie Sioux and the Banshees, the group were attributed to be some of the original pioneers of the punk movement in the seventies. Fast-forward thirty years, and Sioux’s solo efforts take a more operatic/pop infused approach.

    Greatest hit: Kiss Them For Me (recorded as part of Siouxsie Sioux and the Banshees)

    Vital stats: Received the Icon awards at the 2005 Mojo’s, as well as being nominated for a lifetime achievement awards at the Brit Awards in the early 00’s.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Eva Cassidy

    Eva Cassidy recorded eight studio albums during her lifetime, but she only achieved commercial recognition for her work posthumously. Tracks such as Autumn Leaves, Songbird and her cover of John Lennon’s Imagine showcased her silken voice, often only accompanied by a guitar, and going against the grain of overproduced, synthetic pop acts that dominated pop charts in the 1990s.

    Greatest hits: Over the Rainbow

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Nikki Minaj

    With the her debut album – Pink Friday - going platinum in less than a month after its release, the music industry predicts that Nikki Minaj will be a huge force in the rap pop industry. With her explosive rapping style, often spun out at breath-taking speed, and mad-cap costumes, Minaj has put female rappers back on the charts.

    Greatest hit: Super Bass

    Vital stats: Nikki Minaj has been nominated for one Grammy, and has won seven BET Hip Hop awards as well as an MTV video music award for Super Bass.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Candi Staton

    Though Candi Staton’s musical work is commonly associated with club classics such as You’ve got the Love and Young Hearts Run Free, her career has spanned over forty years. With her early working taking a more soulful direction, the turning point came with the increased popularity of disco, triggering hits such as Destiny and Nights on Broadway.

    Greatest hit: Young Hearts Run Free

    Vital stats: Candi Staton has been nominated for a Grammy four times.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Dionne Warwick

    With a four-decade long career, Dionne Warwick was one the original pioneers for African-American women in the pop-music industry, as well as being an artist to tap into the commercial opportunities of movie soundtracks. Throughout her career, Dionne has also been firmly committed to raising the profile of various humanitarian projects.

    Greatest hit: I Say A Little Prayer

    Vital stats: Dionne was the first solo African-American artist to win a Grammy in 1968 for Do you know the way to San Jose? Since then, she has amassed a further 8 awards and 7 nominations.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Dusty Springfield

    One of the few white soul singers of her era, Dusty Springfield made her biggest mark with the classic Wishin’ and Hopin’ – a song that began a long career working with songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Her political activism and fusion of pop and soul influences made her one of the most commercially successful popstars of the 60s.

    Greatest hit: You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me

    Vital stats: Dusty Springfield was inducted into the Grammy hall of fame in 2001, and won the first four consecutive British Female Solo Vocalist awards at NME back in the sixties.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Stevie Nicks

    Stevie Nicks rose to fame as a member of Fleetwood Mac in in 1967, but has since recorded seven studio albums and was named by Rolling Stone in 1981 as the reigning queen of rock and roll. Nicks made her name as one of the best singer/songwriters in the 20th century.

    Greatest hit: Edge of Seventeen (just like the white winged dove)

    Vital stats: As both a solo artist and member of Fleetwood Mac , Stevie Nicks has sold in excess of 120 million albums and has earned 7 Grammy nominations, winning one.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Lauryn Hill

    First appearing in the public eye in the 1993 film Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Lauryn Hill was one of the founding members of the Fugees and went on to produce the critically acclaimed solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Grappling with themes of racial identity, young motherhood , the album was an infectious fusion of rap, hip-hop and reggae.

    Greatest hit: Doo Wop (That Thing)

    Vital stats: Lauryn Hill’s solo album won her five Grammy awards, was in the billboard charts for over 80 weeks and was named by Rolling Stone as one of the 500 records of all time.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Alison Goldfrapp

    As one half of electropop act Goldfrapp, Alison Goldfrapp’s charismatic style and eclectic musical influences were a potent combination when the band first appeared in 2000. Self-trained in vocals, Alison is one of the first female vocalists to embrace theatrical performance during sets.

    Greatest hit: Ooh La La

    Vital stats: Goldfrapp won an Ivor Novello award in 2004 for Strict Machine, and have been nominated for four Grammys.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Ella Fitzgerald

    Described as ‘The First Lady of Song’, Ella Fitzgerald was one of the first African-American female solo singers to popularize jazz music in the late twenties and early thirties. With her mellifluous voice that could adapt to suit any orchestra, Ella was also a vocal proponent of the civil rights movement in the sixties.

    Greatest hit: Everytime We Say Goodbye

    Vital stats: During her career, Ella Fitzgerald picked up fourteen Grammy awards (including a lifetime achievement award in 1967) and sold over 40 million albums.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Courtney Love

    As part of the feminist girl group Hole, Courtney Love personified the glamorous-grunge movement that ruled in America in the early 90s. Propelled into fame as a result of her marriage to Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, Love continued to endear and alienate alike with her on-stage antics and subversive lyrics.

    Greatest hit: Celebrity Skin (as part of Hole)

    Vital stats: Described by Rolling Stone magazine as ‘the most controversial woman in rock history’, it is estimated that Courtney Love is worth $40 million dollars.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Janelle Monae

    Breaking out with her debut album Metropolis in 2007, Janelle Monae’s music is a peculiar mix of doo wop/R’n’B/ soul that foreshadows a bright future for the singer. Having previously collaborated with Cee-Lo Green and OutKast, her second album ArchAndroid has already sold in excess of 150,000 copies.

    Greatest hit: Tightrope

    Vital stats: Monae’s track Many Moons was nominated for the Best Urban/Alternative Performance award at the 2009 Grammies, as was the track Tightrope in 2011 in the same category.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Juliette Lewis

    Originally a film and television actress, Juliette Lewis founded her eponymous band Juliette and the Licks in the early 2000's. Considered to be of the same school as PJ Harvey and Hole, her strong on-stage presence and energetic sets characterised the band's oeuvre. This was carried over when Juliette went on to form the splinter group The New Romantiques.

    Greatest hit: Hot Kiss

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Tracey Chapman

    Tracey Chapman first caught the public's attention at a concert celebrating the 70th birthday of Nelson Mandela. Since that moment, Tracey's music has been enormously influential for the way it deals with pain, gender politics and memories. Her tracks also have a disticntive natural, acoustic quality, often acconapied exclusively by a guitar.

    Greatest hit: Fast Car

    Vital Stats: Tracey has won two BRIT awards, four grammies and worth an estimated $38 million.

  • 50 female pop pioneers

    Alanis Morissette

    Canadian-born Alanis Morissette initially began her career as a dance/pop act, but it was for her acoustic soft-rock sets and angst-ridden lyrics on the album Jagged Little Pill that she became a household name. Her caustic and cynical approach to song-writing is said to have inspired subsequent music acts, including Tori Amos and Natalia Kills.

    Greatest hit: Ironic

    Vital stats: Since its release in 1995, Jagged Little Pill has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and took home four Grammys in 1996.