African-American female singer-songwriters

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  1. Kelly Rowland

    Kelly Rowland


    Kelendria Trene "Kelly" Rowland (born February 11, 1981) is an American singer, songwriter, actress and television personality. Rowland rose to fame in the late 1990s as a member of Destiny's Child, one of the world's best-selling girl groups of all time. During their hiatus, Rowland released her debut solo album Simply Deep (2002), which sold 2.5 million copies worldwide and produced the number-one single "Dilemma" with Nelly, as well as the international top-ten hit "Stole". Rowland also transitioned into acting, with guest appearances in television sitcoms, and starring roles in Freddy vs. Jason (2003) and The Seat Filler (2004).

  2. Ciara



    Ciara Princess Harris (born October 25, 1985), known mononymously as Ciara (pronounced /sˈɛrə/, see-ERR), is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, actress and fashion model. Born in Austin, Texas, she traveled around the world during her childhood, eventually moving to Atlanta, Georgia where she joined the girl group Hearsay; however, the group disbanded after having differences. It was at this time Ciara was noticed for her songwriting. In 2002, Ciara met music producer Jazze Pha. With his help, she signed a record deal with LaFace Records.

  3. Toni Braxton

    Toni Braxton


    Toni Michele Braxton (born October 7, 1967) is an American R&B singer-songwriter, pianist, record producer, actress, television personality, and philanthropist. Rising to fame in the beginning of the 1990s, Braxton quickly established herself as an R&B icon and became one of the best-selling female artists of the 1990s decade, garnering her honorific titles such as the "Queen of R&B" and being recognized as one of the most outstanding voices of this generation.

  4. Keri Hilson

    Keri Hilson


    Keri Lynn Hilson (born December 5, 1982) is an American singer, songwriter, actress and record producer. She was born and raised in Decatur, Georgia, and spent most of her youth working with producer Anthony Dent, as a songwriter and background vocalist for several R&B and hip hop artists. By the age of 14, Hilson had secured a record deal with the girl group D'Signe, who later disbanded. She attended Oxford College of Emory University and Emory University in Atlanta, while she continued writing songs for artists, including Britney Spears and Mary J. Blige, with the production and songwriting team, The Clutch. In 2006, Hilson signed with American rapper and producer Timbaland's record label, Mosley Music. Her breakthrough came the following year after appearing on Timbaland's single "The Way I Are", which topped charts around the world.

  5. Keyshia Cole

    Keyshia Cole


    Keyshia Cole (born October 15, 1981) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, businesswoman and television personality. She was born in Oakland, California, and her career began when she met MC Hammer at the age of twelve and later met rapper Tupac Shakur. At the age of eighteen she moved to Los Angeles and was later introduced to A&M Records. She released her debut album, The Way It Is (2005), which spawned five singles: "Never", "I Changed My Mind", "(I Just Want It) To Be Over", "I Should Have Cheated", and "Love". It was certified gold within 17 weeks, and then platinum just eight weeks later. The album stayed on the charts for over a year, eventually selling over 1.6 million copies.

  6. Mya



    Mýa Marie Harrison (born October 10, 1979), better known simply as Mýa /ˈm.ə/, is an American hip hop and R&B singer, songwriter and actress. Harrison's eponymous debut album with (through) Interscope Records was released in April 1998. It sold over one million copies in the United States, producing the gold-certified top ten single "It's All About Me" featuring Sisqó. Her second studio album, platinum-plus selling Fear of Flying was released in 2000 and became a worldwide success, with single "Case of the Ex" becoming Mýa's breakthrough hit, topping the Australian Singles Chart for two consecutive weeks.

  7. Brandy Norwood

    Brandy Norwood


    Brandy Rayana Norwood (born February 11, 1979), better known mononymously as Brandy, is an American recording artist and entertainer. Born into a musical family in McComb, Mississippi and raised in Carson, California, she enrolled in performing arts schools as a child and performed as a backing vocalist for teen groups. From 1993 to 1994, Norwood appeared in a supporting role on the short-lived ABC sitcom Thea and signed with Atlantic Records. The following year, she released her self-titled debut album. Norwood starred in the UPN sitcom Moesha as the title character, which lasted six seasons and resulted in numerous other roles. She resumed her music career in 1998 with the widely successful duet with Monica, "The Boy Is Mine", and her second album, Never Say Never.

  8. Ashanti



    Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas (born October 13, 1980) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer and actress. Ashanti is most famous for her eponymous debut album, which featured the hit song "Foolish", and sold over 503,000 copies in its first week of release throughout the U.S. in April 2002. In 2003, the self-titled debut album won Ashanti her first Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B album.

  9. Missy Elliott

    Missy Elliott


    Melissa Arnette "Missy" Elliott (born July 1, 1971) is an American singer, songwriter, rapper and record producer. Her first major success came as a songwriter with childhood friend and producer Timbaland on projects for Aaliyah, 702, Total, and SWV. As a record producer and songwriter, she has worked with Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera, and Beyoncé as well as contemporary artists Keyshia Cole, Tamia, Monica and Ciara.

  10. Jada Pinkett Smith

    Jada Pinkett Smith


    Jada Koren Pinkett Smith (/ˌdə ˌpɪŋkɨt ˈsmɪθ/; born Jada Koren Pinkett; September 18, 1971) is an American actress, singer-songwriter, and businesswoman. She began her career in 1990, when she made a guest appearance in the short-lived sitcom True Colors. She starred in A Different World, produced by Bill Cosby, and she featured opposite Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor (1996). She starred in dramatic films such as Menace II Society (1993) and Set It Off (1996). She has appeared in more than 20 films in a variety of genres, including Scream 2, Ali, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, Madagascar, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.

  11. Aretha Franklin

    Aretha Franklin


    Aretha Louise Franklin (born March 25, 1942) is an American singer and musician. Franklin began her career singing gospel at her father, minister C. L. Franklin's church as a child. In 1960, at the age of 18, Franklin embarked on a secular career, recording for Columbia Records but only achieving modest success. Following her signing to Atlantic Records in 1967, Franklin achieved commercial acclaim and success with songs such as "Respect", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" and "Think". These hits and more helped her to gain the title The Queen of Soul by the end of the 1960s decade.

  12. Faith Evans

    Faith Evans


    Faith Renée Evans (born June 10, 1973) is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, actress, and author. Born in Florida and raised in New Jersey, Evans relocated to Los Angeles in 1993 for a career in the music business. After working as a backing vocalist for Al B. Sure and Christopher Williams, she became the first female artist to contract with Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs' Bad Boy Entertainment recording company in 1994, for which she collaborated with several label mates such as Mary J. Blige and Carl Thomas and released three platinum-certified studio albums between 1995 and 2001, including Faith (1995), Keep the Faith (1998) and Faithfully (2001).

  13. Monica Arnold

    Monica Arnold


    Monica Denise Brown, simply known as Monica (née Arnold; born October 24, 1980), is an American singer, producer, and actress. Born and raised in College Park, Georgia, she began performing as a child and became part of a traveling gospel choir at the age of ten. Guided and developed by record producers Dallas Austin and Tim & Bob, Monica signed with Arista at age thirteen and released her debut album Miss Thang in 1995. It sold 1.5 million in the US, while its first two singles "Don't Take It Personal" and "Before You Walk Out of My Life" made her the youngest recording act to ever have two consecutive chart-topping hits on the Billboard Top R&B Singles chart. She also released her fourth Top 10 hit from the album titled, "Why I Love You So Much".

  14. Erykah Badu

    Erykah Badu


    Erykah Abi Wright (born Erica Abi Wright; February 26, 1971), better known by her stage name Erykah Badu (/ˈɛrɨkə bɑːˈd/), is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, activist, and actress. Badu's career began after opening a show for D'Angelo in 1994 in her hometown; record label executive Kedar Massenburg was highly impressed with her performance and signed her to Kedar Entertainment. Her first album, Baduizm, was released on February 11, 1997. It spawned three singles: "On & On", "Next Lifetime" and "Otherside of the Game". The album was certified triple Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Badu's first live album, Live, was released on November 18, 1997 and was certified double Platinum by the RIAA.

  15. Solange Knowles

    Solange Knowles


    Solange Piaget Knowles (born June 24, 1986) is an American singer, songwriter, model, and actress. Knowles was born in Houston, Texas to Mathew and Tina Knowles, both of whom left their careers to support her older sister Beyoncé's recording interests. Expressing an interest in music from an early age, Knowles had several temporary stints in Destiny's Child, before signing with her father's Music World Entertainment label. Aged sixteen, Knowles released her first studio album Solo Star (2003) to moderate commercial and critical success.

  16. Mary J. Blige

    Mary J. Blige


    Mary Jane Blige (/ˈblʒ/; born January 11, 1971) is an American singer, songwriter, model, record producer and actress. Starting her career as a background singer on Uptown Records in 1989, Blige released her first album, What's the 411?, in 1992, and has released 11 studio albums since and made over 150 guest appearances on other albums and soundtracks.

  17. Patti LaBelle

    Patti LaBelle


    Patricia Louise Holt-Edwards (born May 24, 1944) better known under the stage name Patti LaBelle, is an American singer, author, and actress. LaBelle began her career in the early 1960s as lead singer and front woman of the vocal group, Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles. Following the group's name change to Labelle in the early 1970s, she released the iconic disco song "Lady Marmalade" and the group later became the first African-American vocal group to land the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. After the group split in 1976, LaBelle began a successful solo career, starting with her critically acclaimed debut album, which included the career-defining song, "You Are My Friend". LaBelle became a mainstream solo star in 1984 following the success of the singles, "If Only You Knew", "New Attitude" and "Stir It Up", with the latter two crossing over to pop audiences becoming radio staples.

  18. Kelis



    Kelis Rogers Mora (/kə.ˈls/; born August 21, 1979) (née Rogers), better known mononymously as Kelis, is an American singer-songwriter and certified chef. Kelis achieved moderate international success with her 1999 debut album, Kaleidoscope, but left her label Virgin Records after its follow-up, Wanderland (2001), received little sales attention and no U.S. release. Her third album, 2003's Tasty, earned the singer commercial prominence and produced the hit single "Milkshake", her most well-known song. Kelis Was Here (2006), her fourth album, was the subject of further label disputes and she took a hiatus from music after its release, during which she trained at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school. She released the album Flesh Tone in 2010 and her sixth, Food, independently in 2014.

  19. Tracy Chapman

    Tracy Chapman


    Tracy Chapman (born March 30, 1964) is an American singer-songwriter, known for her hits "Fast Car" and "Give Me One Reason", along with other singles "Talkin' 'bout a Revolution", "Baby Can I Hold You", "Crossroads", "New Beginning" and "Telling Stories". She is a multi-platinum and four-time Grammy Award-winning artist.

  20. Chaka Khan

    Chaka Khan


    Chaka Khan (born Yvette Marie Stevens, March 23, 1953) is an American singer-songwriter whose career has spanned four decades, beginning in the 1970s as the frontwoman and focal point of the funk band Rufus. Widely known as the Queen of Funk, Khan has won ten Grammys and has sold an estimated 70 million records worldwide. She has seven gold singles, seven gold albums, and three platinum albums.

  21. Anita Baker

    Anita Baker


    Anita Denise Baker (born January 26, 1958) is an American singer-songwriter. Starting her career in the late 1970s with the funk band Chapter 8, Baker eventually released her first solo album, The Songstress, in 1983. In 1986, she rose to stardom following the release of her platinum-selling second album, Rapture, which included the Grammy-winning single "Sweet Love". To date, Baker has won eight Grammy Awards and has five platinum albums and one gold album to her credit. Baker's vocal range is contralto.

  22. Natalie Cole

    Natalie Cole


    Natalie Maria Cole (born February 6, 1950) is an American singer, songwriter, and performer. The daughter of Nat King Cole, Cole rose to musical success in the mid-1970s as a R&B artist with the hits "This Will Be", "Inseparable", and "Our Love". After a period of failing sales and performances due to a heavy drug addiction, Cole reemerged as a pop artist with the 1987 album, Everlasting, and her cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Pink Cadillac". In the 1990s, she re-recorded standards by her father, resulting in her biggest success, Unforgettable... with Love, which sold over seven million copies and also won Cole numerous Grammy Awards. She has sold over 30 million records worldwide.

  23. Nina Simone

    Nina Simone


    Nina Simone (/ˈnnə sɨˈmn/; born Eunice Kathleen Waymon; February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003) was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist who worked in a broad range of musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop.

  24. Taral Hicks

    Taral Hicks


    Taral Hicks (born September 21, 1974 in The Bronx, New York) is an American actress and singer. She is most known for her role as Jane Williams in the 1993 American crime drama film A Bronx Tale alongside Robert De Niro. She also recorded a cover version of Deniece Williams's 1981 song "Silly" for her 1997 debut studio album This Time which peaked at #4 on Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles.

  25. Tameka 'Tiny' Cottle

    Tameka 'Tiny' Cottle


    Tameka "Tiny" Cottle-Harris (born Tameka Pope; July 14, 1975) is an American singer-songwriter from Jonesboro, Georgia. She is best known as a member of the multi-platinum R&B group Xscape and her marriage with rapper T.I.. She received a Grammy Award for her writing contributions on the TLC hit "No Scrubs". She acquired the nickname "Tiny" due to her small stature of 4'11".

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