15 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Female Singers Of The 1990s

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

The 1990s were a truly iconic time for music, with some of the most widely known and beloved singers in history coming to prominence during the decade. Among them were many incredible female artists who continue to inspire fans today.

From Alanis Morissette to Gwen Stefani, these women of the 1990s have made waves as some of the biggest powerhouses in the music industry.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at 15 of the greatest and most famous female singers of the 1990s. Let’s get started.

1. Madonna

Born Madonna Louis Ciccone in Bay City, Michigan, Madonna is often considered one of pop culture’s most influential figures.

Sometimes called the Queen of Pop, Madonna has always been the multi-talented star we know and love.

Her career started as a dancer in the late 1970s. She tried her hand at singing and released her first solo album in 1983 and her music has topped charts and made history with bestsellers and number one hits ever since.

In the 1990s, Madonna released hit after hit winning a Grammy Award for her album Ray of Light, released in 1998.

Film roles such as Evita and others throughout the 90s sealed her stardom and today she has sold more records than any other woman with over 300 million records sold worldwide.

2. Alanis Morissette

Next up is Canadian-born female singer Alanis Morissette whose career launched in the early 1990s with what would become a stunningly popular dance-pop album.

The girl who began playing piano at six quickly became one of the world’s biggest stars.

Morissette earned a reputation as a songwriter as well as a singer. Her singles were topping the billboards in a few short years. 

With the release of Jagged Little Pill in 1995, Morissette became an international sensation. Her career had hit a turning point, with successful singles rapidly climbing the charts.

She quickly became one of the most successful women of the 1990s and has sold over 60 million albums throughout her career.

3. Mariah Carey

Another renowned singer of the 1990s, Mariah Carey started imitating her mother, a professional opera singer.

Young Carey had no idea that she would one day grow into one of the best-known names in music history.

Carey always did well in music, so it was a natural transition to begin her career in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Her first studio album, Mariah Carey, met with critical acclaim and topped the Billboard 200 for 11 weeks straight.

Her award-winning singles from the album included “Vision of Love,” one of her best-known tunes to this day.

4. Celine Dion

One of Canada’s best singers, Celine Dion, was born in Charlemagne, Quebec, in 1968. Coming from a large family set her up for success as a teen star in Canada.

Speaking only French, she had to learn English before her career could take off in the United States.

Releasing her first English-language album in 1990, Dion has been one of the world’s most influential female voices ever since.

Successful albums colored her time in the 90s, quickly becoming one of the best-selling female recording artists.

With hits like “My Heart Will Go On” and “The Power of Love,” Dion continues to make history as a stunning example of how far you can go with determination and dedication.

5. Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani is perhaps best known for her role as the lead singer for the band No Doubt, an American rock band formed in the mid-80s and gained popularity in the mid-90s.

As the lead, Stefani earned recognition for her unique sound and incredible range.

She joined her brother’s band, No Doubt, which earned chart-topping recognition in 1996 with their huge hit “Don’t Speak

She then collaborated with other artists throughout the 1990s, getting her name into the industry.

Her solo career came soon with massive hits like “Rich Girl,” “Hollaback Girl,” and “The Sweet Escape” although she still tours with No Doubt as the lead singer. 

6. Christina Aguilera

Another huge female artist in the 90s is Christina Aguilera who got her start as a child actress in the early 1990s.

Born in New York City, Aguilera revived teen pop in the 1990s and early 2000s. Her influence has reached across genres and generations.

Aguilera’s debut album in 1999 came after critical success recording the song “Reflection” for the Disney film Mulan in 1998. With the hit single “Genie in a Bottle,” in 1999, it wasn’t long before Aguilera was a star.

Her success links to her exceptional vocal range and persistence as an artist. She sought out leads to create a career from scratch because she knew she had the voice to make it happen. 

7. Shania Twain

Perhaps one of the best-known female country singers of the 1990s, Shania Twain, was born in Ontario, Canada, before becoming one of the best-selling musicians ever.

Her role as a country music star began when she was young and carried on to her breakthrough in the 1990s.

Twain’s first album saw very little success. However, it wasn’t long before her next album, The Woman in Me, made history as one of the best-selling records in 1995. 

She saw multiple singles and chart-toppers from her second album, as well as the Grammy Award-winning song “Any Man of Mine.”

Twain’s recognition as a leader amongst female musicians has remained sure ever since. 

8. Martina McBride

Born in Sharon, Kansas, Martina McBride started singing with her father’s singing group at a young age. Even as a child, her voice had personality and incredible range. 

McBride started singing while working on tour with Garth Brooks. Her husband was one of Brooks’ stage producers and got her a gig as one of his opening acts.

Throughout the 90s, McBride dominated country music charts with number one hits and record-breaking albums. She would later become a star in the country/pop movement.

Over her career, she has been nominated for 14 Grammy Awards and a four-time winner of the Country Music Association Award for Female Vocalist of the Year. 

9. Janet Jackson

Next up is Janet Jackson who was born in Gary, Indiana, the youngest in a family of 10 children which included Michael Jackson, who is widely recognized as the King of Pop.

Jackson started singing with her family before breaking away in the late 80s to launch her career as a young girl.

Her debut tour in 1990 was one of the most successful in music history. She went on to release a slew of successful singles in the early 90s, helping her become one of the more recognizable voices of the era.

Jackson’s fame continued throughout the 90s with her skill and passion making her one of the biggest stars of the decade.

10. Beyoncé (Destiny’s Child)

A singer, songwriter, actress, and dancer from Houston, Texas, Beyoncé started as the lead singer of the 90s group Destiny’s Child.

Singing in the group with her sister, Beyoncé’s entrance into the music world was sealed.

Beyoncé is more widely known now for her successful solo career that launched in the early 2000s, but the late 90s saw her leading Destiny’s Child as one of the best-selling all-girl groups of the time.

From there, it was easy for Beyoncé to leverage her skill and knowledge to become the world-famous artist that she is today.

11. Aaliyah

The tragic story of Aaliyah Dana Haughton began in New York City, where she was born in 1979. Her career started at the age of 10, and by 12, she had a record deal.

Although Aaliyah only released three studio albums, she reached critical acclaim with chart-topping albums and renowned singles that redefined R&B and the contemporary route that hip hop was taking.

Aaliyah’s untimely death in 2001 left a void in the music world, and the Queen of Urban Pop never had a chance to meet her full potential. 

Despite her short career, Aaliyah left an indelible mark on the pop and contemporary R&B world, and her legacy lives on.

12. Whitney Houston

Born in Newark, New Jersey, few names were as well-known or beloved as Whitney Houston.

Sometimes called The Voice, Houston set the standard for female vocalists worldwide.

Getting her start as a backup singer in church, Houston had a record deal by 19. She went on to become one of the best-selling artists of all time with an astounding 200 million records sold worldwide.

Houston’s fame and influence have touched lives everywhere, and her powerful voice continues to grace the music industry.

13. Sheryl Crow

Born in Kennett, Missouri, Sheryl Crow started as a music teacher for an elementary school. She would do gigs on the weekend but didn’t get the chance to begin her career until the late 80s and early 90s.

Crow toured for a time with Michael Jackson, and she recorded background vocals for artists like Jimmy Buffett and Don Henley.

She also wrote extensively, and her songs were given to renowned artists like Wynonna Judd. 

Her debut album in 1994 brought her immediate critical acclaim, and her second album in 1996 sealed her place as one of the brightest stars of the 1990s.

14. Wynonna Judd

The country singer Wynonna Ellen Judd was born in Ashland, Kentucky. She started as part of a duo known as The Judds with her mother, Naomi. The group was highly successful throughout the 1980s.

Judd went solo in 1991 and found success all her own. With eight studio albums to her name and numerous singles and chart-topping hits, she became one of the more prolific female country musicians of the 1990s.

Judd’s powerful voice makes her instantly recognizable. Her songs have stood the test of time, and her legacy in country music is that of a strong female presence. 

15. Lauryn Hill

And last, but by no means least, we have Lauryn Hill who is widely regarded as one of the best rappers, one of the most influential artists, and one of the most powerful females of her generation. 

Few artists have done as much in as short a time as Hill. Since her first solo album dropped in 1998, Hshell has been making impactful music that has sealed her place as one of the greats.

Her soulful rendition of hip hop makes her unique and easily recognizable. Hill’s melodic voice and songwriting expertise have contributed to her critical acclaim across decades of music. 

Summing Up Our List Of Great Women Singers of The 1990s

Madonna by Daniel Capilla (CC BY-SA 4.0)

So, there you have it. We hope you enjoyed reading our post on these female 90s singers.

As you can see from the list above, these singers span a variety of genres and styles, but each one is an undeniable powerhouse in her own right.

There are many more that we weren’t able to include either. Who did we miss off? Let us know and we’ll update this post.

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.