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20 Most Popular Female Musicians of The 1970s

The ladies that made the 70s...

By Rick Henry ChristopherPublished 8 months ago Updated 8 months ago 25 min read
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I am a longtime music aficionado dating back to 1972 when I bought my first records. I bought two albums A Song For You by Carpenters and Greatest Hits by Blood, Sweat and Tears (of course both on 8-track tape). These two records took me away into thoughts and imaginations I never experienced before. I was instantly sold, a fan of music right from the get go. All I could think about was the next record I would buy. I started making lists of songs and albums I wanted. By 1978 it became an obsession. I had to buy everything I wanted. My lists went from 3 or 4 albums up to 40 or 50 titles at all times. In 1992 my friend Mitzi and I spent the entire day removing all my albums from my walk-in closet and counted each one and alphabetized everything and rearranged them back into the closet. When all was said and done the final count was approximately 11,500 albums (and that did not include the 7,500 seven inch singles I had). This wasn't even the top number. I continued collecting records until 1995. I would guesstimate, at one point, I owned around 16,000 albums. That was crazy. When I moved from Orange to Fullerton in 1996 it was a lot of work packing and moving those records.

My love of music goes further than just collecting. I worked in a music store from 1981 through 1987 during the height of MTV and KROQ. I also formed a few rock bands and have written more than 100 songs through the 1980s and 1990s. Music is in my blood.

This time around we're taking a look at the most popular female vocalists of the 1970s.

For this list I devised a point system using charts from Billboard (the US chart system) and Cashbox (another US chart system which is based on sales only). I also tracked the Official Charts Company which is the chart system in the UK. I tracked the charts of the US and UK because these are the biggest and most influential music markets in the world. I came up with a point system for albums and singles. The points for albums are much higher than for singles. The points for a record charting in the US are much higher than the points for a record charting in the UK as the US has a much larger record buying population.

Most of the female vocalists on this list recorded as solo artists. Some such as Karen Carpenter and Gladys Knight recorded with a group but they were each the primary lead vocalist in their groups.

Groups which had multiple primary lead singers such as Fleetwood Mac, The Fifth Dimension, and ABBA were not included. But for good measure I do want to mention the female singers from these bands: Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie from Fleetwood Mac, Marilyn McCoo and Florence LaRue from The Fifth Dimension and Agnetha Faltskog and Ani-Frid Lyngstad from ABBA.

Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, Frida Lyngstad, Agnetha Faltskog, Marilyn McCoo, Florence Larue

Bubbling Under the Top 20

The following are the female singers I tracked that missed the Top 20.

60. Barbara Mandrell (134) / 59. Dottie West (136) / 58. Debby Boone (148) / 57. Donna Fargo (154) / 56. Patti LaBelle (158) / 55. Joan Armatrading (167) / 54. Freda Payne (180) / 53. Bonnie Raitt - (181) / 52. Maria Muldaur (183) / 51. Candi Staton (184) / 50. Tanya Tucker (189) / 49. Annie Haslam (Renaissance) (197) / 48. Yvonne Elliman - (205) / 47. Patti Smith (212) / 46. Nana Mouskouri (215) / 45. Suzi Quatro - (217) / 44. Phoebe Snow - (225) / 43. Ann Wilson (Heart)(231) / 42. Tina Turner - (233) / 41. Minnie Riperton - (241) / 40. Janis Ian - (262) /39. Millie Jackson (263) / 38. Marie Osmond (274) / 37. Liza Minelli (278) / 36. Grace Slick (282) / 35. Loretta Lynn (292)/ 34. Melissa Manchester - (298) / 33. Tammy Wynette (308) / 32. Crystal Gayle - (310) / 31. Gwen Dickey (Rose Royce)(341) / 30. Bette Midler - (343) /29. Natalie Cole (368) / 28. Gloria Gaynor - (370) / 27. Janis Joplin - (371) / 26. Debbie Harry - (374) / 25. Lynn Anderson (379) / 24. Judy Collins - (399) / 23. Dolly Parton (403) / 22. Rita Coolidge - (409) / 21. Toni Tennille - (418)

Without further interruption the following is The 20 Most Popular Female Singers of the 1970s.

(All stats/metrics/collaborations/releases/chart positions listed are for the time ranging from 1970 to 1979 in US and UK)

20. Joan Baez - (437)

Albums on the Charts: 18 (2 reached #11)

Singles on the Charts: 22 (1 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" (1971), "Let It Be" (1971), "Diamonds and Rust" (1975)

Collaborated with: Bob Dylan

Popularity: The biggest driver in Joan Baez's popularity is the amount of albums she released. She released at minimum an album every year of the 1970s. Her presence was perpetual. In total she released 19 albums (studio, soundtrack, live, compilation) all but one charted.

Fun Fact: Joan Baez wrote three songs about Bob Dylan. The first is the 1972 song called "To Bobby" in which she urges Dylan to return to political activism. The second two from 1975, "Diamonds and Rust" and "Winds of the Old Days" touched on her feelings for him.

19. Dionne Warwick - (452)

Albums on the Charts: 17 (1 reached #12)

Singles on the Charts: 21 (2 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "Then Came You (w/ The Spinners)" (1974), "I'll Never Love This Way Again" (1979), "Deja Vu" (1979)

Collaborated with: Isaac Hayes, Barry Manilow, Burt Bacharach

Popularity: Dionne Warwick's popularity stems from the total number of albums and singles she released. A good amount of her albums and singles did not chart but her presence during the decade was constant.

Fun Fact: Arista Records founder, Clive Davis, paired Dionne Warwick with Barry Manilow for her 1979 album Dionne. Manilow was commissioned to produce the album. It was a big success and is Warwick's only album to be certified Platinum in the US. The hit "Deja Vu" was co-written by Isaac Hayes and Adrienne Anderson. Dionne released a live in-concert album with Hayes in 1977. Another quick little fastie... most of us know that Dionne Warwick is Whitney Houston's First Cousin - just wanted to give that a shout out for those that may not have known.

18. Chaka Khan - (550)

Albums on the Charts: 9 (3 reached the Top 10)

Singles on the Charts: 21 (3 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "Tell Me Something Good" (1974), "Once You Get Started" (1975), "Sweet Thing" (1975)

Lead singer of the funk group Rufus

Popularity: Chaka Khan's popularity comes due to the number of albums and singles that made it into the top 40. During the 1970s she had (solo and with Rufus) 7 albums and 10 singles that made it in to the top 40.

Fun Fact: Chaka Khan, known as the Queen of Funk had her first solo hit in 1978 with the song "I'm Every Woman." Whitney Houston released the song in 1992 and also had a hit with it.

17. Cher - (555)

Albums on the Charts: 18 (2 reached the Top 20)

Singles on the Charts: 16 (7 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "Gypsy's, Tramps, and Thieves" (1971), "Half Breed" (1973), "Dark Lady" (1974)

Collaborated with: Sonny Bono (Sonny & Cher), Greg Allman (Allman and Woman), Bob Esty

Popularity: Her constant release of albums throughout the seventies helped propel Cher's popularity but the biggest driver was the amount of Top 40 hit singles she had. She placed ten singles in the Top 40 with three making it to #1.

Fun Fact: 1979 was a year of change for Cher. She parted ways with Warner Bros which served up three consecutive albums that either charted extremely low or failed to chart. Her new affiliation with Casablanca produced two disco albums in 1979: Take Me Home and Prisoner. Casablanca was most successful during the disco era and was home to the Queen of Disco, Donna Summer, as well as Lipps Inc, The Village People and hard rocking KISS. Bob Esty produced and wrote (or co-wrote) most of the songs on both albums. Bob Esty co-produced Donna Summer's classic "Last Dance". Cher appeared on the cover of her Take Me Home album in a gold Bob Mackie designed Viking outfit and her hair was permed and suddenly she was dubbed a 'disco diva.' This period brought her three disco hits, "Take Me Home," "Wasn't It Good," and an ode to roller disco, "Hell On Wheels."

16. Anne Murray - (591)

Albums on the Charts: 14 (1 reached #12)

Singles on the Charts: 21 (4 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "Snowbird" (1970), "Danny's Song" (1974), "You Needed Me" (1978)

Collaborated with: Glen Campbell, Bruce Murray

Popularity: Anne Murray released a ton of singles and albums during the 1970s. In 1971 and 1974 she released a total of three albums each year, all of which charted in the U.S.

Fun Fact: Anne's younger brother Bruce Murray began his career in music when he made an appearance on his sister's 1975 album Together. Anne and Bruce did a duet on the Brian and Brenda Russell song "Player in the Band." Their voices meshed together beautifully. Bruce went on to lend his vocals to another eight of Anne's albums. He also recorded three of his own solo albums from 1975 to 1984. For most of his musical career he toured with Anne as one of her backup singers. Anne was happiest on the road when Bruce was with her, when he was by her side, on and off stage. He also did a tour with Olivia Newton-John. Bruce was married to his wife Corinne for 47 years. Bruce passed away in September 2020 at the age of 69.

15. Melanie - (594)

Albums on the Charts: 12 (2 reached the Top 10)

Singles on the Charts: 14 (3 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "Lay Down (Candles In The Rain" (1970), "Peace Will Come" (1970), "Brand New Key" (1971)

Collaborated with: The Edwin Hawkins Singers/Edwin Hawkins

Popularity: Melanie's popularity is driven by the fact that she charted 12 albums in the US with five of them also charting in the UK. Also her hit "Brand New Key" was a big hit in the US and UK which garnered quite a few points for her.

Fun Fact: Melanie's novelty song "Brand New Key" was a change in direction from her previous melancholy and reflective hits; "Lay Down Candles" and "Peace Will Come." Melanie wrote the quirky song, which was also known as the skateboard song. But this little novelty song was one to reckon as it made it to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart in the US and stayed there for three weeks. The song was also #1 in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. It also made it into the Top 10 in Ireland, Netherlands, and the UK.

14. Shirley Bassey - (627)

Albums on the Charts: 20 (5 reached the Top 10)

Singles on the Charts: 7 (3 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "Something" (1970), "For All We Know" (1972), "Never, Never, Never" (1973)

Collaborated with: N/A

Popularity: Shirley Bassey's popularity came mostly from her albums. She had 20 on the charts in the 1970s, which is quite a bit. Most of them charted in the UK. Had her albums charted the same positions in the US Bassey would have easily finished in the Top 5.

Fun Fact: Shirley Bassey's 1970 album; Something, was a comeback of sorts. It was her first to chart in two years and her first Top 10 since 1961. The album's popularity was fueled by a cover of the George Harrison penned Beatles classic "Something" which made it to #4 in the UK and #55 in the US.

13. Roberta Flack (651)

Albums on the Charts: 8 (4 reached the Top 10)

Singles on the Charts: 12 (5 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" (1972), "Killing Me Softly" (1973), "Feel Like Makin' Love" (1974)

Collaborated with: Donny Hathaway

Popularity: Roberta Flack's popularity ran on the strength of her hit singles. She had three number one singles in the US and all three remained at the top for multiple weeks. Five more of her singles charted within the Top 40 giving her additional strength. Three of her albums reached the U.S. Top Three.

Fun Fact: Here we'll focus on a few names. Let's start with Roberta's first middle name. Her middle name is Cleopatra. The name Cleopatra is best known because of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra VII Philopator. She is known for her beauty while Roberta Cleopatra Flack is known for her beautiful voice. Let's dig into Rubina Flake, the producer of Roberta's fourth album Feel Like Makin' Love. Rubina Flake is actually an alter ego Roberta created when she was a preteen. Rubina could accomplish great things such as playing the complete score of Handel's Messiah for her church at age 13 or graduating from Howard University at age 19. Rubina is not only credited as producing the album, she is also credited for background vocals and keyboards.

12. Joni Mitchell (683)

Albums on the Charts: 9 (5 reached the Top 10)

Singles on the Charts: 8 (1 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "Big Yellow Taxi" (1970), "Help Me" (1974), "Free Man In Paris" (1974)

Collaborated with: Jaco Pastorius, Charles Mingus, Wayne Shorter, James Taylor, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash

Popularity: Joni Mitchell is an albums artist all the way. She made it on the strength of a consecutive run of eight studio albums and one live album that all charted high in both the US and UK.

Fun Fact: Jaco Pastorius, one of the most prominent bass players from the jazz-fusion band Weather Report appeared on three of Joni's albums. He played bass on Hejira (1976), Don Juan's Reckless Daughter (1977), and Mingus (1979). Mingus was a collaboration with jazz great Charles Mingus and was the third in the trio of Joni's jazz albums. Mingus co-wrote four of the songs.

11. Helen Reddy (728)

Albums on the Charts: 10 (3 reached the Top 10)

Singles on the Charts: 19 (6 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "I Am Woman" (1972), "Delta Dawn" (1973), "Angie Baby" (1975)

Popularity: Helen Reddy's popularity was mostly driven by her hit singles. Reddy was definitely a singles act. She place a total of 14 songs in the Top 40 with three of them making it to #1. From 1971 to 1977 Helen Reddy was a constant on AM pop radio airplay. But she also had a little extra help with seven of her albums making it into the Top 20.

Fun Fact: Helen Reddy had a short lived film career which began in 1974 when she played the part of the singing nun named Sister Ruth in the film Airport 75. Reddy received a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer - Female. In the 1977 film Pete's Dragon Reddy had the female lead role of Nora. The film included the song "Candle on the Water'' which was performed by Helen Reddy. The song received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. From there she made three more appearances in films that were cameo appearances.

10. Carly Simon - (740)

Albums on the Charts: 9 (4 reached the Top 10)

Singles on the Charts: 15 (5 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "You're So Vain" (1972), "Nobody Does It Better" (1977), "You Belong To Me" (1978)

Collaborated with: James Taylor, Mick Jagger, Stuff

Popularity: A good amount of Carly Simon's points came from ten Top 40 hits in the US and four in the UK. But her biggest strength was charting within the US Top 50 with nine albums (five of those making it into the Top 10).

Fun Fact: Carly recorded (and released as singles) two Doobie Brothers songs. The first was "It Keeps You Runnin'" from the 1976 album Another Passenger. For this album Carly employed Ted Templeton who at the time had just completed producing the Doobie Brothers' album Takin' It To The Streets. The album includes the original recording of "It Keeps You Runnin'." Templeton brought The Doobie Brothers in to record backing vocals on Carly's recording. One year later Carly Simon and Michael McDonald, lead singer of The Doobie Brothers, co-wrote the song "You Belong To Me." The song was included on The Doobie Brothers' 1977 album Livin' On The Fault Line. Carly then included her version on her 1978 album Boys in the Trees. Simon's rendition was a hit reaching #6 in the US and features James Taylor on backing vocals.

9. Aretha Franklin (846)

Albums on the Charts: 16 (2 reached the Top 10)

Singles on the Charts: 24 (5 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "Spanish Harlem" (1971), "Day Dreaming" (1972), "Until You Come Back To Me" (1973)

Popularity: Aretha Franklin accumulated her points by sheer volume. She released 17 albums in the 1970s, all of them charted except one. She released 29 total singles and 24 made it into the charts.

Collaborated with: The Dixie Flyers, Curtis Mayfield, Reverend James Cleveland

Fun Fact: Aretha Franklin's best selling album of the 1970s (and of her entire career) is the 1972 live Gospel album entitled "Amazing Grace." The album is also the best selling live gospel music album of all time. It also won the 1973 Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance.

8. Gladys Knight (853)

Albums on the Charts: 17 (4 reached the Top 10)

Singles on the Charts: 28 (8 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "Neither One Of Us" (1972), "Midnight Train To Georgia" (1973), "Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me" (1974)

Collaborated with: The Pips (as Gladys Knight and the Pips), Curtis Mayfield

Popularity: As with Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight captured points from the volume of releases (both solo and with The Pips). Granted Gladys Knight and The Pips scored five singles that made it into the Top 5 and that brought a good amount of points in.

Fun Fact: After having won several talent shows in their hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, the Pips ended up getting a recording contract with Brunswick Records. They released two singles which failed to chart and Brunswick dropped them. Without a record label, they recorded the Johnny Otis–penned "Every Beat of My Heart" in 1961. With the help of local Atlanta label, Huntom Records, they got a distribution deal with Vee-Jay Records to release the single. Upon learning that "Every Beat of My Heart" was already becoming a hit and that the group was being cut out of the profits, they re-recorded the song and re-released it on Fury Records. Both versions made the Billboard charts, with the Huntom/Vee-Jay version reaching number six on the Billboard Hot 100.

7. Linda Ronstadt (910)

Albums on the Charts: 11 (6 reached the Top 10)

Singles on the Charts: 24 (6 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "You're No Good" (1975), "When Will I Be Loved" (1975), "Blue Bayou" (1977)

Collaborated with: The Stone Poneys, The Eagles, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Moon Martin, Neil Young, Nicolette Larson, David Lindley, Emmylou Harris, Karla Bonoff, Warren Zevon, Peter Asher

Popularity: Ronstadt's popularity was propelled by three albums that all made it to #1 on the US Billboard chart. She also had two more albums reach the Top 5. Her string of five Top 5 hits also helped quite a bit.

Fun Fact: The earliest (somewhat) incarnation of the supergroup Trio (Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris) appeared on Ronstadt's 1975 album Prisoner in Disguise. Emmylou Harris provided harmony vocals on the track "The Sweetest Gift." While on the same album Ronstadt recorded Dolly Parton's mega-classic "I Will Always Love You." Next Dolly Parton provides harmony vocals on the track "I Never Will Marry" which is featured on Ronstadt's #1 album from 1977 Simple Dreams. Finally, in 1987 the trio took the dive and released their first of two studio albums.

6. Carole King - (1062)

Albums on the Charts: 12 (6 reached the Top 10)

Singles on the Charts: 12 (4 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "It's Too Late/I Feel The Earth Move" (1971), "Jazzman" (1974), "Nightingale" (1975)

Collaborated with: James Taylor, Gerry Goffin, Toni Stern, Lou Adler, Merry Clayton, David Palmer, Eddie Kendricks, Rick Evers, Louise Goffin, Sherry Goffin, George Bohanon

Popularity: Let's focus on one album. Carole King's Tapestry stayed at #1 in the US for a whopping 15 weeks and also made it to #4 in the UK. That alone gave King 227 points. Tapestry by itself is enough points to have put Carole King at #36 on this list of Most Popular Female Singers of the 1970s. But, fortunately for Carole it does not stop there. She had another five albums in the Top 10 (four of those reached the Top 3). On the strength of her albums Carole King is easily one of the most popular female musicians of the decade. But… yes But, she also had a nice string of Top 10 singles four to be precise.

Fun Fact: Many songs written by Carole King were hits for others. This is a short list of her songs that were covered in the 1970s: "Up On The Roof" by Laura Nyro (1970), "Hi-De-Ho (That Old Sweet Roll)" by Blood, Sweat and Tears (1970), "You've Got A Friend" by James Taylor (1971), "You've Got A Friend" by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway (1971), "Go Away Little Girl" by Donny Osmond (1971), "No Sad Song" by Helen Reddy (1971), "Where You Lead" by Barbra Streisand (1972), "It's Going To Take Sometime" by Carpenters (1972), "So Far Away" by The Crusaders (1972), "Oh No Not My Baby" by Rod Stewart (1973), "I Can't Hear You No More" by Helen Reddy (1976), "One Fine Day" by Rita Coolidge (1979), "Up On The Roof" by James Taylor (1979).

5. Donna Summer (1075)

Albums on the Charts: 9 (5 reached the Top 10)

Singles on the Charts: 20 (13 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "MacArthur Park (1978), "Hot Stuff" (1979), "Bad Girls" (1979)

Collaborated with: Barbra Streisand, Giorgio Moroder

Popularity: Donna had three mega-popular #1 albums in a row that really propelled her upward. Her three #1 albums alone got her 320 points which is enough to get her to #29 on this list. Couple that with seven US Top 3 hits which all also charted in the UK and Donna Summer is one of the most popular female musicians of the 70s.

Fun Fact: Donna Summer, The Queen of Disco has set the bar or broken many records during her career. Some of her most prestigious accomplishments include: Summer was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach #1 on the US Billboard 200 chart; Live and More (1978), Bad Girls (1979), On the Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes I & II (1979). Donna Summer was the first recipient of the Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female Grammy award for her 1979 mega-hit "Hot Stuff." In regards to Donna Summer's 1977 classic "I Feel Love," producer Brian Eno exclaimed to David Bowie he had heard "the sound of the future."

4. Olivia Newton - John (1104)

Albums on the Charts: 11 (3 reached the Top 10)

Singles on the Charts: 24 (11 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "I Honestly Love You" (1974), "Have You Never Been Mellow" (1975) "Hopelessly Devoted To You" (1978)

Collaborated with: Cliff Richard, John Denver, John Travolta

Popularity: Olivia Newton-John's popularity is driven on the strength of a whole lot of hit singles. In the US she placed 16 songs in the Top 40 and ten in the UK. Then you have six albums reaching the Top 15.

Fun Fact: The biggest hit record Olivia Newton-John was part of, during the 1970s, is the sizzling 1978 hit "You're The One That I Want," The duet with John Travolta from the film Grease was number one in more than 20 countries around the world. The single sold more than 15 million copies worldwide.

3. Karen Carpenter (1327)

Albums on the Charts: 12 (8 reached the Top 10)

Singles on the Charts: 27 (13 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "Close To You" (1970), "Top of the World" (1973), "Please Mr. Postman" (1975)

Lead singer of the duo Carpenters

Popularity: Carpenters were hugely popular in the 1970s. They placed 10 albums on the charts in both the US and the UK. Plus an additional two albums that charted in the UK. All their chart positions were in the upper part of the charts. Their albums alone brought them 889 points - enough to place Karen Carpenter at #8 on this list. But Carpenters were massive singles artists. They had a truckload of hits from 1970 to 1977. They were unparalleled in the department of hit singles. If this chart was based only on the popularity of singles then Karen Carpenter would have easily been number one on this list. But as it is, the two at the number one and number two spots on this list were exceptionally strong albums artists.

Fun Fact: Karen Carpenter was an accomplished drummer. When Karen Carpenter met legendary jazz drummer Buddy Rich he said to her, "Karen Carpenter, do you know that you're one of my favorite drummers?"

2. Barbra Streisand (1332)

Albums on the Charts: 18 (7 reached the Top 20)

Singles on the Charts: 18 (7 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "Stoney End" (1970), "The Way We Were" (1973), "Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star is Born)" (1976)

Collaborated with: Laura Nyro, Richard Perry, Kris Kristofferson, Rupert Holmes, Donna Summer

Popularity: Streisand put 15 of her 18 albums into the top 40. Three of her albums were #1 and 8 also charted in the UK. Multiplying volume plus high chart positions gave Streisand an edge that her contemporaries did not have (well except for one other). With 1065 points her albums alone were enough to get her up to the #6 spot on this list. Despite the fact that Streisand is primarily an albums artist she was very strong in the sales of singles. She had four #1 hits in the '70s and a total of 12 Top 40 hits.

Fun Fact: Barbra Streisand went into the 1970s remaining a major force in both music and film. In 1976 Streisand achieved her crowning moment with the film A Star Is Born. With a box office total of $80 million it is her highest grossing film as well Streisand won her second Academy Award for writing "Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star is Born). She co-wrote the song with Paul Williams. Streisand was the first female to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

1. Diana Ross (1352)

Albums on the Charts: 20 (7 reached the Top 20)

Singles on the Charts: 24 (7 reached the Top 10)

Three Biggest Hits in the 1970s: "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (1970), "Touch Me In The Morning" (1973), "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" (1975), and one more for good measure "Love Hangover" (1976)

Collaborated with: Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Ashford & Simpson, Michael Masser

Popularity: Diana Ross was the unexpected top of this list. I was certain that Barbra Streisand would be #1. What I did not realize is the amount of albums Ross released. In total there were seven Supremes albums released in the '70s which featured Diana Ross. For the Supremes albums I awarded Ross half of the available points since that was a group effort and the other two members also sang on those records. In her solo discography Ross released a total of 18 albums including studio albums, soundtracks, live albums, collaborations and compilations (25 albums if you add in The Supremes compilations released in the 70s). 15 of her 18 albums made it into the Top 40 (that is the same metric Streisand achieved). Ross took one album to #1 and 14 of her albums also charted in the UK. So far that keeps her metrics on an even footing with Barbra Streisand. So where is it that Diana Ross pulls ahead of Barbra Streisand? Mind you the point difference is miniscule. Ross only has ten points more. As a matter of fact the point span between the top three on this list is almost microscopic. The difference between Karen Carpenter and Diana Ross is only 25 points. Had the album Horizon peaked within the Top 3 in the US instead of #13 then Karen Carpenter would have been #1. However Ross had four #1 hit singles (during the 1970s) garnering a total of seven weeks at #1. Streisand had a similar total with four #1 hits although two of those were duets so Streisand received only half the available points for those songs. It is from that minor technicality of splitting and sharing points between two musicians on a duet that put Ross ahead of Streisand.

Fun Fact: In her childhood Ross' neighbor was Smokey Robinson. She grew up with Smokey. In her teens Robinson lent Ross the money to take modeling and cosmetology classes. Ross has said she was very proud to have grown up with Smokey because he was the only celebrity, at that time, in their Detroit area. Robinson was instrumental in getting the Supremes an audition with Berry Gordy, the head of Motown Records.

This is it… yet another manifestation coming from my extreme obsessive love of music.

From me to you with love 💕

If you enjoyed this you may enjoy Black Female Vocalists of the 1970s:

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About the Creator

Rick Henry Christopher

Writing is a distraction for me. It takes me to places unknown that fulfill my need for intellectual stimulus, emotional release, and a soothing of the breaks and bruises of the day.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/vocalplusassist

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  • Andre Rodman8 months ago

    I knew that number one would be either Babs or Miss Ross and between the 2 of us I knew Miss Ross would win. She has been my inspiration since I was a child and she is the reason I work in the beauty and fashion industry today! !!

  • Bill Parthum8 months ago

    What a big undertaking! Regardless of the outcome, the 70's were certainly a Golden Age for female vocalists. Numbers don't lie, but each of us has a personal favorite. I guessed Cher at the outset because of her tv exposure (and belly button!) But no one can argue against Diana. I have her Ain't no Mountain album, and it is just great. Thanks for all your time and effort into compiling all this material.

  • Babs Iverson8 months ago

    A music journey back in time, well done! Loving it!

  • TL Parry-Sands8 months ago

    Kinda great to take a stroll down memory lane. Nice work!

  • I enjoyed reading this as I didn't know any of them that you've mentioned here except Cher

  • Irene Economou8 months ago

    Rick, this review is excellent!!! What a treasury of the top female vocalists of the 70s; this article has rekindled my love of the female vocalists of this era that I grew up with and admired.

  • Steve Lance8 months ago

    Great list. In the song "You're so Vain" She sings "I bet you think this song is about you." It is about him.

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