By Nicole LaChance
8. Carole King
Carole King started off as a songwriter, partnering with husband Gerry Goffin. After her marriage ended, King decided to try singing and her second album, “Tapestry,” is now a classic. TV fans know King as Sophie from “Gilmore Girls,” on which her song, “Where You Lead (I Will Follow),” is the theme. King is currently on tour with James Taylor.
Influenced: Sheryl Crow, Diane Birch, Sarah McLachlan
7. Joan Jett
Joan Jett was the picture of teenage girl angst: loud and angry, and she couldn’t care less. Starting off with all-girl punk band The Runaways, Jett later went on to a successful solo career with backing band The Blackhearts. Jett’s music showed the world that girls can rock just as hard as boys. Currently, Jett is being portrayed by Kristen Stewart in the movie “The Runaways,” of which she is a producer.
Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘N Roll”
Influenced: The Donnas, Courtney Love, The Go-Gos
6. Whitney Houston
Though nowadays she is more known for her crazy behavior, there was a time when Houston was a beloved American icon. The mezzo-soprano rose to fame in the 1980s with an album The New York Timescalled “impressive.” Throughout the ’90s Houston continued to shine, even making the soundtrack to “The Bodyguard” a mega-hit. Houston inspired a generation of women and even though her star has faded a bit, she has secured her spot as a major musical influence.
Influenced: Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Leona Lewis
Girl group Salt-N-Pepa, which consists of Salt, Pepa and DJ Spinderella, is the best-selling female rap act of all time. Breaking onto the scene in 1985, the group ended up selling over 15 million albums worldwide. The group opened up doors for other female rappers, such as Queen Latifah and Missy Elliot, and forever changed the landscape of hip-hop music.
Influenced: TLC, Missy Elliot, Fergie
4. Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell opened doors for female folk singers across the country. The Canadian singer released her debut album “Song to a Seagull” in 1968 and was a major presence on the folk scene for the next decade. Although she later lost some of her commercial success, Mitchell has since made a comeback. With her mellow music and laid-back lifestyle, Mitchell has proved that even the quiet girls can change music history.
Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”
Influenced: Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Alanis Morissette
3. Stevie Nicks
The husky-voiced singer first debuted with Fleetwood Mac in 1974. Nicks gained even more fans after she released her 1981 solo album “Bella Donna.” Despite years of drug use, Nicks proved she’s still got it at this year’s Grammys when she performed with Taylor Swift. Whether in a band or solo, Nicks and her mystical image continue to influence musical women.
Influenced: Dixie Chicks, Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift
Before Miley and Lady Gaga, before Britney and Christina, there was Madonna Ciccone, more commonly known as Madonna. The singer, who was raised in Rochester Hills, was the original female pop icon, even inspiring an ’80s fashion trend of mesh shirts and rubber bracelets. Madonna constantly reinvents herself and has proved to be fearless with both her music and her outfits. Now in her 50s, the singer continues to make headlines for both her music and her personal life.
Influenced: Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga
1. Aretha Franklin
The Queen of Soul was the first woman ever to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but she secured her place in music history long before then. Starting off as a gospel singer, the Detroit native rose to fame with singles such as “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),” “Respect” and “Chain of Fools.” Franklin, at 68, still turns heads with her voice, as she did at President Barack Obama’s inauguration. It’s no wonder the 18-time Grammy Award winner is often called the greatest singer of all time.
Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”
Influenced: The list of female singers not influenced by her would be shorter.