17 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Canadian Singers Of All Time

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

Canada is home to Niagara Falls, friendly people, blue waters, stunning mountains, maple syrup, and bustling cities. It is dubbed the Great White North whose territory almost reaches the North Pole.

However, one thing that you may forget when you think of this beautiful North American country is its musical powerhouse.

There are numerous incredibly talented singers who call Canada home. In this post, we’re going to take a look at 17 of the greatest and most famous Canadian singers of all time. Let’s get started.

1. Celine Dion

Our list begins with one of the most successful singers of all time, Celine Dion. The world came to know her distinct vocals, the French language in her hits, and her ability to sing in various musical styles, such as pop, chanson, soft rock, R&B, gospel, and classical music.

Dion was born in Quebec, Canada, and started her musical career in the early 1980s. After winning the Yamaha World Popular Song Festival and Eurovision Song Contest, she used her platform to create her first two albums in the following decade.

It’s doubtful no one has heard of Dion. But if you have not, you’ve probably heard of “My Heart Will Go On,” the heart-wrenching ballad she sang for the famous movie Titanic.

In a career that spanned more than four decades, Dion became one of the best-selling artists of all time. She sold an incredible 250 million records worldwide.

On top of her huge record sales, she also won five Grammy Awards, had the most #1 songs on the radio, and is the sixth-best solo female Artist in Billboard history.

Related: The most famous female Canadian singers.

2. Drake

Coming in second place is the Canadian actor, singer, and rapper Drake. He was born Aubrey Drake Graham in Ontario, Canada in 1986.

Drake first gained fame as an actor in the teen drama series Degrassi: The Next Generation. However, he decided to pursue a career in music in 2006.

Today, Drake is one of the world’s best-selling artists with 22 Hot 100 debuts in one week, five Grammy Awards, and 34 Billboard Music Awards. In addition, he has 68 Top 10 singles, 294 charted songs, and over 170 million records sold globally.

Among his notable songs are “In My Feelings,” “Hotline Bling,” and “One Dance.” Today, he continues releasing chart-topping songs in the hip-hop, R&B, pop, trap, and pop-rap genres.

Related: Did you know Drake is a Scorpio? See our list of other famous Scorpio singers here.

3. Justin Bieber

Among the most popular artists of today is Justin Bieber. This Canadian singer-songwriter gained international fame from his viral videos when he was just 13 years old.

Known for his youthful voice, cute face, and charming personality, Bieber quickly rose to fame after being discovered by Scooter Braun in 2008.

He released his debut studio album, My World 2.0, in 2010, making him the youngest solo male act to reach the top of the US Billboard 200 charts in 47 years.

With hit singles like “Baby,” “Where Are U Now,” and “Sorry,” Bieber continued to experience worldwide success even after he got older.

In his early 30s at the time of this writing, Bieber is one of the most influential Canadian musicians of his generation. And with over 150 million records sold, he’s one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

4. Shania Twain

Another Ontario-born singer on our list is Eilleen Regina Twain, better known as Shania Twain. Dubbed the “Queen of Country Pop,” she made history by being the best-selling female artist in country music history.

Not only that. With more than 100 million records worldwide, she is one of the best-selling artists of all time. This was a huge leap for Twain, whose career beginning was anything but promising. But despite her debut album flopping, she made up for it with her second album, which propelled her to fame.

Through the years, she released commercially successful songs that further cemented her status as Queen of Country Pop. Some of her popular songs include “Any Man of Mine,” “From This Moment On,” and “That Don’t Impress Me Much.”

She was also inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

5. Bryan Adams

Another well-known and successful singer, Bryan Adams, was born in Ontario, Canada. He has been active since 1975 and continues to perform today!

He had his start in music at age 12, learning to play the electric guitar. He played for different bands before having his big break as a vocalist at the age of 15.

It was in 1981 that he released his first album, which slowly helped him rise to fame. His 1983 release, Cuts Like A Knife, is considered his breakout album, landing #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

Since then, he has released several albums and hits, such as “Lonely Nights,” “Straight from the Heart,” and “Heaven.”

To date, he has sold between 75 million and more than 100 million records and singles worldwide. This huge number makes him one of the best-selling artists of all time. He even earned the title of the most-played Canadian artist on the radio back in 2005.

6. Alanis Morissette

Canadian-American songwriter-singer Alanis Morisette is one of the most popular artists of the 1990s.

Morissette, born in Ottawa, Ontario, had music in her blood. She composed her very first song when she was 10 and began her music career two years later. From then until now, she has proven her ability to sing in multiple genres, such as alternative rock, post-grunge, electronica, and hard rock.

Her hottest-selling album and claim to fame was Jagged Little Pill, released in 1995. It earned her a Grammy Award for Album of the Year and a spot on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

To date, she is still quite active in the music industry. She has sold over 85 million records worldwide and is named the “Queen of alt-Rock Angst.”

Related: Check out our list of the greatest female rock singers of all time.

7. The Weeknd

Singer-songwriter The Weeknd, born Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, hails from Toronto, Ontario. Between his early career beginnings and as of this writing, he has sold more than 75 million records worldwide.

He first earned commercial success with his second album in 2015. After this production, he skyrocketed to fame and reached the #1 spot on the US Billboard charts.

Since he first came onto the music scene, he has produced dozens of hit singles such as “The Hills,” “Can’t Feel My Face,” “Starboy,” and “Blinding Lights.”

In addition to #1 hits and best-selling albums, he has also won awards, such as MTV Video Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, Juno Awards, and American Music Awards.

8. Michael Bublé

Next, we have Michael Bublé, a jazz and pop singer whose love for music began early in his life. He was born in Burnaby, British Columbia, and became known for his distinctive smooth voice.

After David Foster signed Bublé to his record label, the latter released his self-titled debut album in 2003. Michael Bublé entered the Top 10 in Canada, the UK, and South Africa and topped in Australia. ARIA ranked it #33 on the Top 100 Albums of 2003.

After finding worldwide popularity with his 2005 and 2007 albums, Bublé earned high marks on the US Billboard 200 and the UK Albums Chart.

As of this writing, Bublé has sold over 75 million records. He won five Grammy Awards and 15 Juno Awards for his work. Some of his best hits are “Home,” “Haven’t Met You Yet,” and “It’s A Beautiful Day.”

9. Neil Young

With over 75 million records sold worldwide, Neil Young earns a spot on our list. This Canadian singer-songwriter achieved international fame with his folk-rock and country-rock sound.

Born in Toronto, Ontario in 1945, Young became known for his distinctive voice and guitar playing. He has been a major influence on both rock and roll and alternative country music.

He first rose to fame in the 1960s as a member of the folk-rock band Buffalo Springfield. He has since released more than 40 studio albums, both solo and with his backing band Crazy Horse. Some of his most famous songs include “Heart of Gold,” “Old Man,” and “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

Related: The most famous male Canadian singers.

10. Avril Lavigne

Hailed as the “Pop-Punk Queen,” Avril Lavigne is a singer-songwriter born in 1984 in Belleville, Ontario, Canada. She went on to sell over 40 million records worldwide.

Her music career began at a young age when she rose to stardom with her debut studio album, Let Go. Her famous songs like “Sk8er Boi” and “Complicated” made her a household name overnight.

Lavigne is known as one of the female pioneers for bringing skate-punk and pop-punk into the limelight. She has been extremely influential in driving pop music and female artists from 2000 onward.

After taking a break from her singing career to focus on getting better from her chronic Lyme disease, Lavigne released her sixth studio album in 2019 and her seventh, Love Sux, in 2022.

11. Nelly Furtado

Singer-songwriter Nelly Furtado was born in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1978 to Portuguese parents.

Furtado earned critical acclaim and success with her debut album Whoa, Nelly in 2000. She recorded two Top 10 singles in her first entrance as a musical artist on the scene: “Turn Off the Light” and “I’m Like A Bird.”

After her breakout start, she continued to record pop and worldbeat music that hails from her Portuguese roots. Combining pop with hip-hop, she created her next album, Loose, which became one of the best-selling albums of the 2000s.

She also rose to fame in the Hispanic music scene with her first Spanish album Mi Plan, which was released in 2009. Overall, she has launched six studio albums, selling over 40 million records worldwide.

12. Sarah McLachlan

Up next, we have Sarah McLachlan, born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She has made a significant impact on the music industry with her brand of pop music.

Out of her nine studio albums, the most successful is Surfacing. Released in 1997, it dominated the Canadian RPM 100 Albums chart and peaked at #2 on the US Billboard 200. In Canada, it was certified Diamond, while it was eight times Platinum in the US.

Some of her popular songs include “Angel,” “I Will Remember You,” and “Building a Mystery.” Throughout her career, she sold over 40 million records worldwide.

13. Leonard Cohen

Canadian Music Hall of Famer Leonard Cohen sold over 23 million records worldwide. He was born in Quebec, Canada in 1934.

Known for bridging the gap between musical lyrics and tough topics like religion, death, and depression, his contributions to music had him inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Throughout his career, he released 15 studio albums and several live albums between 1967 and until his death in 2016. Among his popular songs are “Hallelujah,” “Suzanne,” and “Everybody Knows.”

14. Shawn Mendes

Next, we have singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes. Born in Pickering, Ontario, in 1998, this young musician has been active since he was just 15 years old!

His rise to stardom began with covers of popular songs posted on the social media app Vine. After gaining an online following, he got in touch with record labels and put out his first EP in 2014 and his first studio album in 2015, coming up with the record-breaking song “Stitches.”

Known for singing pop, folk-pop, and pop-rock, Mendes has created and sung numerous hit singles. There’s “Señorita” with the famous Camila Cabello and “In My Blood,” with both songs debuting on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

At such a young age, Mendes is already a successful musician. He sold over 20 million records globally. He has also received various awards, such as 18 Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada awards. In addition, he won 12 Juno Awards, 11 MTV Europe Music Awards, five BMI Awards, and three American Music Awards.

15. Joni Mitchell

Another renowned Canadian singer to grace our list is Roberta Joan Mitchell, better known by her stage name Joni Mitchell.

With hit songs and heartfelt ballads in the folk, rock, jazz, and pop genres, this native from Fort Macleod, Alberta, can also play the guitar, piano, and dulcimer.

She released a number of records in the 1960s, but it was her album Blue that she’s most known for. It often comes in near the top of lists of best albums ever made. In fact, it came third in Rolling Stones’ list of best albums.

Mitchell took a break between 2002 and 2006. However, this did not dull her stardom at all. After her hiatus, she decided to record her first collection of new songs to highlight political and environmental issues.

16. Feist

The Canadian indie pop singer and guitarist Leslie Feist, known as Feist for her stage pre-romance and professional work, is up next. She is also known as part of the Broken Social Scene band.

Feist has been known to incorporate indie pop, folk, and baroque pop into various albums and hit singles. Her second and third albums were worldwide successes. The latter, The Reminder, earned her four Grammy nominations, 11 Juno Awards, and two Artist of the Year Awards.

Among her most notable songs is “1234,” which gained popularity in 2007 when the song was used for the iPod nano commercial. Some of her other hits include “I Feel It All” and “Mushaboom.”

17. Carly Rae Jepsen

Hailing from British Columbia is the fifth season Canadian Idol third placer Carly Rae Jepsen. As a child, she had a passion for theater. Later on in life, she would become one of the most popular singer-songwriters of the pop, disco, pop-rock, and folk genres.

She had her career beginnings in 2007. But she rose to instantaneous fame with the catchy 2012 single “Call Me Maybe.” This song was the best-selling single of the year and could be heard on the radio, in commercials, and in movies worldwide.

After her breakout single, she recorded other albums and even made a Broadway debut in Cinderella.

With three Juno Awards, a Billboard Music Award, and Grammy Nominations, her catchy pop tunes have made her one of Canada’s most famous musicians.

Summing Up Our List Of Great Canadian Singers

As you can see, there are numerous Canadian singers, songwriters, and musicians who are well-known in the music industry. So whether you like pop, soft rock, jazz, or electronic music, Canada has something for everyone!

Did we miss someone that you think needs to be on this list? Let us know, and we’ll get them added.

Photo of author

Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.