While it may not be the first place, you think of when pondering countries with the best music, Australia has a long and rich musical history. Women throughout the country have been making incredible music that has entertained the whole world. From Perth to Brisbane, the island nation has produced numerous international sensations.
And in this post, we will look at 13 of the most famous Australian female singers who achieved worldwide recognition and changed the landscape of music forever. Let’s get started.
1. Kylie Minogue
Whether you know her as Kylie Minogue or just Kylie, you have probably heard of this massively popular singer from Melbourne.
She has sold over 80 million records across the globe, making her the best-selling female Australian artist ever. She’s received several awards for her music, including 17 ARIA Music Awards and a Grammy Award.
Minogue started her career as an actor, with her big break coming in the soap opera Neighbors. By the late 1980s, she began to make waves as a singer-songwriter.
In 2001, Minogue achieved international success with her album Fever; the single “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” was a smash hit.
It was a long and winding road for Sia Furler, known mononymously as Sia. Today, she is a decorated pop star with several smash hits under her belt; but it did not all start that way.
Born in Adelaide in 1975, Sia did not achieve superstar success overnight. She was a part of the band Crisp in the 1990s before releasing her debut solo album in 1997.
Her first albums did not attract widespread attention, and it wasn’t until the late 2000s that Sia first found her footing in the pop music world.
Her breakout album was 1000 Forms of Fear, which debuted in first place on the Billboard charts.
3. Tina Arena
One of Australia’s finest singers, Tina Arena has been producing critically acclaimed music since the 1970s.
Born in Melbourne, she has had a storied and multifaceted career, doing everything from songwriting to acting and musical theater.
Arena achieved breakout success with her debut solo album Strong as Steel which showed off a raunchy attitude and incredible vocal talents. From there, her legend grew, and she became a darling of the Australian music scene.
Her trophy case has seven ARIA Awards and a BRIT award. Arena was named a Member of the Order of Australia in 2016.
4. Olivia Newton-John
An iconic artist of the 1980s, Olivia Newton-John is one of the best-selling artists ever, with over 100 million records sold. Newton-John was born in Cambridge, England, but her family emigrated to Melbourne, Australia when she was six.
Her career began humbly enough, appearing on local TV shows and singing in small bands.
Newton-John had her breakout success not from an album but from the movie Grease. Starring alongside John Travolta, the film’s success allowed her to reinvent her musical career and achieve incredible success.
Her most popular album remains Physical, which cemented her image as a risque singer.
5. Natalie Imbruglia
A very famous singer hailing from Sydney, Natalie Imbruglia is a real Renaissance woman. Aside from signing, she has found work acting, modeling, and doing philanthropy.
Imbruglia got her career started in the 1990s through the soap opera Neighbours. Soon after, she began her singing career with a cover of the song “Torn” that would bring her fame.
She made her breakthrough with her 1997 debut LP Left of the Middle, which smashed the charts and sold over 7 million copies.
Since her breakout, she has received numerous awards, including ARIA, BRIT, and Billboard Music Awards.
6. Iggy Azalea
Though she now makes her home in the United States, Iggy Azalea was born and bred in Sydney, Australia. She moved stateside to make a music career and quickly found success on YouTube.
Azalea’s popularity exploded in 2014 with her album The New Classic. Seemingly overnight, its two singles, “Work” and “Fancy,” became worldwide hits and cemented her as a rising star of music.
Since her breakthrough, she has founded her record label and accumulated several awards and nominations. Her trophy case includes Billboard Music Awards, Teen Choice Awards, and American Music Awards.
7. Missy Higgins
A much-beloved indie star of Melbourne, Missy Higgins, real name Melissa Higgins, is a favorite domestically. Today, Higgins takes time to be an activist for various causes such as environmentalism along with making music.
Higgins first made waves in 2004 with her debut album The Sound of White; the single “Scar” from the album topped the Australian charts. She won her first ARIA award that year and has continued producing music since.
Aside from her solo work, she has also collaborated with many artists throughout the years, including Nick Cave and Paul Kelley. Her latest album Total Control debuted in 2022.
8. Jessica Mauboy
Jessica Mauboy, the first Indigenous artist with a number-one album on the ARIA charts in Australian history, has quickly become one of Australia’s hottest singers.
Aside from singing, she has acted and even received nominations for her role in The Sapphires.
Born in Darwin, Mauboy first found success after finishing as the runner-up of Australian Idol’s fourth season. Her debut album came two years later, and its single “Burn” became the best-selling Australian song of 2009. She is
Mauboy has also been part of historical events, performing at the Australian visit of U.S. President Barack Obama.
9. Delta Goodrem
Though perhaps not as internationally famous as others on the list, Delta Goodrem is a beloved singer in Australia and a rising star.
Born in Sydney in 1984, she has steadily been making music since the turn of the millennium and has found plenty of success at home.
Goodrem’s debut album Innocent Eyes from 2003 was a huge hit, topping the charts for 29 weeks. It remains one of the best-selling albums in Australia.
Despite a cancer diagnosis, she continued making music through the 2000s and continued to find herself on top of the Australian music scene.
10. Courtney Barnett
While she may not have the chart-topping accolades of some of her contemporaries, Courtney Barnett has made waves in the Australian indie scene.
Her albums have achieved critical praise both at home and abroad, and she is beloved by fans for her distinctive singing and songwriting style.
Barnett quickly found success in 2013 with her EP The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas. Two years later, her debut album, Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit, earned her international acclaim and a Grammy nomination.
Most recently, she released Things Take Time, Take Time in 2021. Barnett both sings and plays guitar.
11. Tones and I
Tones and I, real name Toni Watson, is a newcomer to the Australian music scene. She was born in Mount Martha, just south of Melbourne.
Her 2019 debut single, “Dance Monkey”, was a breakout success and propelled her to international fame. It was so successful that ARIA certified the album as 16x platinum in 2021.
She followed her breakout with an EP, The Kids Are Coming, and a debut album, Welcome to the Madhouse.
Watson is hard at work on more music and is one of the brightest rising stars in the country; she has received numerous awards and nominations from ARIA.
12. Judith Durham
While not as famous for her solo work, Judith Durham is an enduring figure in Australian music as the lead singer for The Seekers. She joined the band for five years in the 1960s before leaving to pursue a solo career.
Born in Essendon, Victoria, Australia, Durham achieved international success while singing for The Seekers.
The band is widely credited as one of the first Australian acts to make waves outside of the country. Its folk music fit perfectly with the folk revival happening in the United States in the 60s.
Today, Durham still performs solo and occasionally with The Seekers, despite a stroke in 2013.
13. Dannii Minogue
The sister of Kylie, Dannii Minogue has carved out an impressive career in her own right. Born in 1971 in Melbourne, her music career and acting career have intertwined through the years.
Her acting career got off the ground through the soap opera Home and Away, and she quickly began making music.
Her debut album Love and Kisses was a big hit and cemented her as a rising star. Her next musical adventures were not as successful, and she turned back to acting.
Since then, her music career has been filled with hiatuses while she has acted and worked on television.
Summing Up Our List Of Famous Female Australian Vocalists
Australia has produced many musicians who are beloved worldwide and domestically.
With more music available at everyone’s fingertips than ever, more people are discovering great artists from the island nation.
Whether you listen to legends like Judith Durham or rising stars like Tones and I, there is plenty of music from Australia to listen to.
We hope you give a listen to some of these artists on the list and see just what kind of music comes from Down Under.