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Top 32 Most Popular Alto Singers
Aishwarya-Updated Feb 5, 2024
Alto is a singing voice that is higher than a tenor but lower than a soprano. An Alto has a rich and warm voice that suits most popular music genres like pop, jazz, classical and soul.
However, a true alto voice is rare to come by. Many consider contraltos and mezzo-sopranos as altos because they share a similar voice range. However, a true alto has a deeper voice than a mezzo-soprano.
Many mezzo-sopranos have sung popular alto songs like Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, Katy Perry’s Firework, Rihanna’s Stay, etc. This post from Entoin highlights all those true alto voices and a few mezzo-sopranos and sopranos who have sung many alto songs.
The aim is to celebrate the ability to seamlessly blend rich low notes with a commanding presence that makes them truly exceptional. Whether they are renowned for their classical training or have achieved success in popular music, alto singers have left an indelible mark on the industry.
So, here is the list of the best alto singers that have left an indelible mark in our hearts with their talent and music.
Adele, an English singer-songwriter, possesses a powerful and soulful vocal range that showcases her remarkable talent. In a choir, she would ideally be considered an alto, but many consider her a mezzo-soprano.
Her voice spans multiple octaves, allowing her to deliver emotional performances with incredible control and depth. Adele's popularity soared with the release of her album "21," which featured chart-topping hits like "Rolling in the Deep" and "Someone Like You." The album broke records and earned her multiple Grammy Awards, establishing her as a global superstar.
Her subsequent albums, including "25," continued to dominate charts and captivate audiences. Adele's raw and heartfelt lyrics, combined with her captivating voice, have resonated with millions worldwide. Adele's vocal prowess, relatable storytelling, and unmatched stage presence have solidified her status as one of the greatest singers of her generation.
Sade, a Nigerian-British singer-songwriter, is celebrated for her captivating contralto vocal range and soulful delivery. Her voice exudes a warm, velvety quality that effortlessly glides over melodies, captivating listeners worldwide.
Sade gained immense popularity in the 1980s and 1990s with her band, Sade, which blended smooth jazz, soul, and pop to create a unique sound. Hits like "Smooth Operator" and "No Ordinary Love" propelled her to international stardom.
With her sultry voice and introspective lyrics, Sade's music became synonymous with sophistication and sensuality. Despite limited releases, she has maintained a dedicated fan base, and her albums consistently top charts upon release.
Sade's career has been marked by critical acclaim, Grammy Awards, and an enduring influence on contemporary music. Her enchanting voice and timeless sound have made her a revered figure in the music industry.
3. Tina Turner
Tina Turner, an American singer and actress, is celebrated for her powerful vocal range and electrifying stage presence. Her raspy mezzo-soprano voice exudes raw energy and soulfulness, allowing her to deliver dynamic performances across various genres.
Turner achieved immense popularity as the lead vocalist of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, captivating audiences with hits like "Proud Mary" and "River Deep - Mountain High." She later embarked on a highly successful solo career, producing iconic songs such as "What's Love Got to Do with It" and "Simply the Best." Turner's resilience and personal triumphs, coupled with her captivating voice, made her an enduring symbol of female empowerment.
Her remarkable career, marked by numerous accolades, including Grammy Awards and inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, solidifies her status as one of the greatest performers in music history.
4. Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey, an American singer-songwriter, is renowned for her extraordinary vocal range and melismatic singing style. Her voice spans an impressive five octaves, enabling her to effortlessly hit soaring high notes and perform intricate vocal runs.
However, Carey considers herself an alto because of her unusually strong lower extension as an alto. Carey's popularity soared in the 1990s, establishing her as one of the best-selling artists of all time.
With chart-topping hits like "Hero," "We Belong Together," and "Vision of Love," she dominated the music industry. Carey has received numerous accolades, including five Grammy Awards, and her Christmas classic "All I Want for Christmas Is You" has become a holiday staple.
Her career has been marked by record-breaking achievements and collaborations with industry legends. Mariah Carey's vocal prowess, chart success, and artistic longevity have secured her status as one of the greatest singers in contemporary music.
5. Annie Lennox
Annie Lennox, a Scottish singer-songwriter, is renowned for her impressive vocal range and unique tone. Her alto voice possesses a haunting quality that evokes deep emotions and captures listeners' attention.
Lennox gained popularity as the lead vocalist of the iconic duo Eurythmics, known for hits like "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" and "Here Comes the Rain Again." She went on to have a successful solo career, releasing critically acclaimed albums and earning numerous awards, including Grammy Awards and an Academy Award.
Lennox's music often explores social and political themes, reflecting her activism and humanitarian work. Her powerful voice, artistic integrity, and influential career have solidified her status as a music icon and a respected advocate for human rights.
6. Patsy Cline
Patsy Cline, an American country music icon, possessed a rich and emotive contralto vocal range. Her captivating voice conveyed raw emotions and vulnerability, making her an influential figure in the genre.
Despite a tragically short career due to her untimely death at the age of 30, Cline achieved immense popularity. Her hits such as "Crazy" and "I Fall to Pieces" resonated with audiences and crossed over to the pop charts.
Cline's career included collaborations with renowned producers and songwriters, shaping the sound of country music in the 1960s. Her legacy continues to inspire generations of artists and fans alike, with her distinctive voice and timeless recordings remaining beloved classics.
Patsy Cline's impact on country music and her enduring popularity cement her as one of the genre's greatest talents.
Cher, an American singer and actress, is known for her distinctive contralto vocal range and captivating stage presence. Her voice effortlessly transitions between deep, low notes and soaring high belts.
Cher's popularity skyrocketed in the 1960s as part of the duo Sonny & Cher, and they produced hits like "I Got You Babe." She then embarked on a solo career, releasing numerous chart-topping singles including "Believe" and "If I Could Turn Back Time." Cher's multifaceted career spans music, film, and television, earning her an Academy Award, Grammy Award, and Emmy Award.
With her unique style, flamboyant costumes, and iconic performances, Cher has become an enduring pop culture icon. Her longevity and reinvention have solidified her status as a legendary entertainer with a loyal and devoted fan base.
8. Chaka Khan
Chaka Khan, an American singer-songwriter, is renowned for her powerful and versatile vocal range. With her commanding mezzo-soprano voice, she effortlessly transitions between soul, funk, R&B, and jazz.
Khan gained popularity as the frontwoman of the funk band Rufus in the 1970s, delivering memorable hits like "Tell Me Something Good" and "Ain't Nobody." Her solo career further solidified her status as a music icon, producing chart-topping singles such as "I Feel for You" and "Through the Fire." Khan's dynamic stage presence and soulful delivery have captivated audiences worldwide.
She has earned multiple Grammy Awards and has been honoured with induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Khan's enduring popularity and groundbreaking career have cemented her as one of the greatest voices in contemporary music.
9. Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald, known as the "First Lady of Song," was an American jazz vocalist with a vocal range spanning three octaves. Her powerful alto vocals are characterised by smooth, velvety tone and impeccable control.
Fitzgerald rose to fame during the swing era and became one of the most influential jazz singers of all time. Her scat singing and improvisational skills were unmatched, setting her apart from her contemporaries.
Fitzgerald's career spanned over six decades, during which she released numerous acclaimed albums and collaborated with jazz legends like Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. Her versatility allowed her to excel in various genres, from swing and bebop to ballads and show tunes.
Fitzgerald's talent and artistry garnered her 14 Grammy Awards, a National Medal of Arts, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her legacy as a jazz icon and vocal virtuoso remains unmatched.
10. Gladys Knight
Gladys Knight is an American singer known for her incredible vocal range and soulful delivery. With a mezzo-soprano voice that effortlessly soars from low registers to powerful high notes, she has captivated audiences worldwide.
Knight gained popularity as the lead vocalist of Gladys Knight & the Pips, a renowned R&B and soul group in the 1960s and 1970s. Their hits, including "Midnight Train to Georgia '' and "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)," solidified their status as chart-topping performers.
Knight embarked on a successful solo career and continued to release acclaimed albums. Her contributions to music earned her numerous accolades, including multiple Grammy Awards. Knight's soul-stirring voice, combined with her charismatic stage presence, has cemented her as one of the greatest voices in soul music history.
11. Liza Minnelli
Liza Minnelli, an American actress and singer, possesses a versatile voice that defies categorization. Her vocal range spans from mezzo-soprano to contralto, allowing her to tackle a wide array of musical styles with ease.
Minnelli's singing talent is characterised by her powerful, emotive delivery and impeccable phrasing. She has a unique ability to infuse songs with her own charisma and charm, captivating audiences on stage and screen.
Known for her dynamic stage presence and electrifying performances, Minnelli has become an iconic figure in show business. Her media image is one of a vivacious entertainer, often associated with Broadway and musical theatre.
With a career spanning decades, Minnelli's talent and enduring charisma have made her an indelible presence in the entertainment industry.
12. Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton is an American singer and songwriter known for her deep, rich contralto voice. Her vocal range and emotive delivery have made her a standout in the R&B and soul genres.
Braxton rose to fame with her self-titled debut album in 1993, which spawned the chart-topping hit "Un-Break My Heart." She has since enjoyed a successful career, releasing multiple platinum-selling albums and earning numerous awards, including Grammy Awards.
Braxton's sultry voice, combined with her heartfelt lyrics, has resonated with audiences worldwide. She has collaborated with renowned artists and ventured into acting, further expanding her creative endeavours. Braxton's enduring fame and remarkable talent have solidified her status as one of the most influential and iconic voices in contemporary R&B music.
13. Norah Jones
Norah Jones is an American singer-songwriter renowned for her soulful voice and versatile musical style. Her voice is often classified as a mezzo-soprano, possessing a warm, velvety tone that resonates with listeners.
Jones gained widespread popularity with her debut album, "Come Away with Me," which showcased her signature blend of jazz, pop, and folk influences. The album won multiple Grammy Awards and sold millions of copies worldwide.
Throughout her career, Jones has consistently delivered critically acclaimed albums, exploring various genres and collaborating with diverse artists. Her captivating voice, introspective lyrics, and exquisite musicality have made her a beloved figure in contemporary music.
Jones continues to evolve as an artist, continually pushing boundaries and enchanting audiences with her exceptional talent.
14. Stevie Nicks
Stevie Nicks is an American singer-songwriter known for her distinctive vocal range and unique style. With her mesmerising contralto voice, she has captivated audiences worldwide.
Nicks gained fame as a member of the British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac, contributing her iconic vocals to hits like "Rhiannon" and "Landslide." Her solo career further solidified her status as a music legend, producing chart-topping albums and unforgettable songs such as "Edge of Seventeen" and "Stand Back." Nicks's popularity soared in the 1970s and 1980s, and she remains an influential figure in rock music to this day.
Her haunting voice, poetic lyrics, and bohemian fashion sense have made her an enduring icon in the music industry.
15. Nina Simone
Nina Simone's vocal range was a two octave-range from G2 to F5. Simone, however, was incredibly expressive and powerful with her voice within this range. She had a profound, smoky alto register that could evoke both tenderness and intense emotion.
Alto compositions by Simone, including "Sinnerman" and "Mississippi Goddam," were potent anthems for the Civil Rights Movement because of the depth and conviction in her voice that captivated listeners.
Despite not having Vaughan's wide range, Simone's command of her alto range solidified her status as a vocal powerhouse and a famous voice of the 20th century. Her voice had greater impact because of her active involvement in the Civil Rights movement.
16. Karen Carpenter
Karen Carpenter was an American singer and drummer known for her warm and velvety contralto voice. Her voice had a rich and soothing quality, which she effortlessly showcased in her performances.
Alongside her brother Richard, Karen formed the successful duo The Carpenters, achieving fame in the 1970s with their soft rock sound and heartfelt ballads. Their hits, including "Close to You" and "We've Only Just Begun," propelled them to international stardom.
Karen's impeccable vocal technique and emotional delivery made her a beloved figure in the music industry. However, her career was tragically cut short when she passed away in 1983 at a young age.
Despite her untimely death, Karen Carpenter's legacy endures, as her voice and musical contributions continue to be celebrated and cherished by fans around the world.
17. Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys is an American singer-songwriter known for her powerful and soulful voice. Her voice type ranges from mezzo-soprano to contralto, displaying remarkable range and flexibility. Keys gained immense popularity in the early 2000s with her debut album, "Songs in A Minor," which showcased her exceptional talent as both a vocalist and pianist.
Her unique blend of R&B, soul, and pop music resonated with audiences worldwide. Throughout her career, Keys has released numerous successful albums, earning multiple Grammy Awards and establishing herself as a prominent figure in contemporary music.
Her powerful vocals, heartfelt lyrics, and empowering anthems have endeared her to a wide fan base. Keys' career also extends beyond music, with her philanthropic work and advocacy for various social causes further solidifying her status as a respected artist and influential voice in the industry.
18. Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday, often referred to as "Lady Day," was an iconic American jazz singer known for her unique voice and emotive style. Her voice type was a contralto, marked by a distinctive and hauntingly beautiful tone.
Holiday's popularity soared in the 1930s and 1940s, enchanting audiences with her heartfelt interpretations of jazz standards. Her ability to convey deep emotions and tell stories through her singing made her an enduring figure in the genre.
Despite personal hardships, Holiday's career flourished, with notable recordings like "Strange Fruit" and collaborations with jazz greats. Her innovative phrasing and soulful delivery influenced countless singers, earning her a place among the greatest jazz vocalists of all time.
Though her life was tragically cut short, Holiday's impact on music and her enduring legacy continue to inspire and captivate listeners to this day.
19. Etta James
Etta James was an American singer known for her powerful and soulful voice, encompassing a wide vocal range and incredible vocal versatility. Her voice type ranged from contralto to mezzo-soprano, and she possessed a unique ability to convey raw emotions and captivate listeners.
James achieved popularity and critical acclaim in the 1950s and 1960s with hits like "At Last" and "I'd Rather Go Blind." Her career spanned several genres, including R&B, blues, jazz, and rock and roll.
James' distinctive voice, combined with her electrifying stage presence, made her a beloved figure in the music industry. She earned multiple Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Her contributions to soul music and her enduring influence have solidified her status as one of the greatest vocalists of all time.
20. Sarah Vaughan
Sarah Vaughan had an incredible three-octave vocal range that went from a high D6 to a low B2. She was able to negotiate soaring ballads and improvisational bebop melodies with ease thanks to her vast range, subtle phrasing, and emotional depth.
This earned her the moniker “The Divine One.” Her sweet, rich contralto voice had a unique smokey character that went well with the bluesy overtones of many jazz standards.
Especially Vaughan's alto songs demonstrated the range of her vocal range. From the joyous swing of "Perdido" to the melancholic desire of "Black Coffee," Vaughan's alto register enthralled audiences all around the world with its depth and maturity.
21. Dame Janet Baker
Dame Janet Baker is a British mezzo-soprano celebrated for her exceptional vocal talent and artistry. Her voice possesses a rich and expressive quality known for its warmth, agility, and emotional depth.
Baker's versatile voice allowed her to excel in a wide range of repertoire, from Baroque and Classical to Romantic and contemporary works. She rose to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s, captivating audiences with her mesmerising performances and impeccable musicianship.
Baker's interpretations of opera roles, lieder, and oratorio works have earned her international acclaim and numerous accolades, including Grammy Awards and the title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Her career spanned several decades, leaving a lasting impact on the world of classical music and establishing her as one of the greatest mezzo-sopranos of her generation.
22. Peggy Lee
Peggy Lee was an American jazz and popular music singer renowned for her sultry and smooth voice. Her voice type ranged from contralto to mezzo-soprano, and she possessed a unique ability to infuse her performances with a sense of sensuality and sophistication.
Lee gained widespread popularity in the 1940s and 1950s with her signature songs like "Fever" and "Is That All There Is?" Her career spanned over six decades, during which she released numerous successful albums and collaborated with renowned musicians.
Lee's versatile vocal style allowed her to excel in various genres, including jazz, pop, and big band music. Her contributions to the American songbook, along with her captivating stage presence, solidified her status as an influential and beloved figure in the world of music.
23. Tracy Chapman
Tracy Chapman is an American singer-songwriter celebrated for her unique voice, characterised by its soulful and emotive quality. Her voice type is often described as a mezzo-soprano, capable of conveying deep emotions and capturing the essence of her poignant lyrics.
Chapman rose to prominence in the late 1980s with her self-titled debut album, featuring the iconic hit single "Fast Car." Her introspective songwriting, coupled with her powerful voice, resonated with audiences around the world, leading to widespread popularity and critical acclaim.
Throughout her career, Chapman has released several successful albums, earning multiple Grammy Awards and maintaining a dedicated fan base. With her socially conscious lyrics and distinctive sound, she continues to be regarded as a respected and influential figure in the folk and singer-songwriter genre.
24. Oleta Adams
Oleta Adams is an American singer and pianist known for her soulful and powerful voice. Her voice type is often described as a mezzo-soprano with a wide vocal range and the ability to deliver heartfelt and emotionally charged performances.
Adams gained popularity in the early 1990s with her hit song "Get Here," which showcased her exceptional vocal prowess and earned her international acclaim. Throughout her career, she has released several successful albums, blending elements of gospel, R&B, and pop music.
Adams' distinctive voice, coupled with her dynamic stage presence, has garnered her a devoted following. She continues to tour and record music, captivating audiences with her soul-stirring performances and showcasing her enduring talent as a vocalist and musician.
25. Anita Baker
Anita Baker is an American singer known for her smooth and velvety voice, often described as a mezzo-soprano with a distinctive and captivating tone. Her vocal style combines elements of jazz, R&B, and soul, resulting in a timeless and elegant sound.
Baker gained widespread popularity in the 1980s and 1990s with her soulful ballads and romantic lyrics. Her album "Rapture" became a commercial and critical success, earning her multiple Grammy Awards.
Throughout her career, Baker released several hit albums, including "Giving You the Best That I Got" and "Rhythm of Love," solidifying her status as one of the most respected and influential voices in contemporary R&B.
Despite a relatively low-profile in recent years, Baker's music continues to resonate with fans, and her contributions to the genre have left an indelible mark.
26. Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist renowned for her soulful voice and blues-infused sound. Her voice, characterised by its rich, smoky tone and emotive delivery, perfectly complements her heartfelt lyrics and intricate guitar work.
Raitt gained popularity in the 1970s with her unique blend of blues, rock, and folk music. Her breakthrough album, "Nick of Time," won multiple Grammy Awards and propelled her to mainstream success.
Throughout her career, Raitt has released numerous critically acclaimed albums, showcasing her exceptional musicianship and commitment to social and environmental activism. With her soul-stirring performances and unmistakable sound, Raitt has garnered a loyal fan base and earned the respect of both peers and music critics.
She remains an influential figure in the realms of blues and rock music.
27. Diana Krall
Diana Krall is a Canadian jazz singer and pianist known for her smooth and sultry voice. Her contralto range is characterised by its warmth, clarity, and expressive phrasing. Krall's distinctive voice, combined with her exceptional piano skills, has garnered her widespread popularity in the jazz genre.
She gained mainstream success with her album "When I Look in Your Eyes," which won a Grammy Award and reached the top of the jazz charts. Throughout her career, Krall has released several critically acclaimed albums, often showcasing her talent for reinterpreting jazz standards and adding her own personal touch.
Her captivating performances and versatile musicality have solidified her position as one of the most prominent jazz artists of her generation, earning her numerous accolades and a devoted fan base.
28. Judy Garland
Judy Garland was an iconic American singer and actress with a powerful and versatile voice. Known for her rich contralto tone, Garland's voice possessed a wide range and the ability to convey deep emotions.
She rose to fame as a child star in the late 1930s and early 1940s, captivating audiences with her remarkable talent. Garland's popularity soared with her role as Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz," and she went on to star in numerous successful films and musicals.
Despite personal struggles and setbacks, she continued to captivate audiences with her magnetic stage presence and incredible vocal performances. Garland's career spanned over four decades, earning her numerous accolades, including an Academy Award and Grammy.
She remains an enduring and beloved figure in the world of entertainment.
29. Fiona Apple
Fiona Apple is an American singer-songwriter known for her distinct voice, characterised by its raw power, expressive dynamics, and emotive delivery. Her unique vocal style, combined with her introspective lyrics and experimental sound, has garnered critical acclaim and a devoted following.
Apple gained widespread recognition with her debut album, "Tidal," which featured the hit single "Criminal." Throughout her career, she has consistently pushed artistic boundaries and released critically acclaimed albums such as "When the Pawn..." and "The Idler Wheel..." Apple's music often explores themes of vulnerability, relationships, and societal issues.
Despite her infrequent album releases, her work continues to resonate with fans and music critics alike, solidifying her status as a respected and influential artist in the alternative music scene.
30. Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse was a British singer known for her soulful voice and unique blend of jazz, R&B, and pop music. Her distinctive contralto voice showcased remarkable depth and emotional range, earning her critical acclaim and a dedicated fan base.
Winehouse rose to prominence with her second studio album, "Back to Black," which spawned hit singles like "Rehab" and "Valerie." Despite her undeniable talent, her personal struggles with addiction and mental health overshadowed her career.
Tragically, Winehouse passed away in 2011 at the age of 27. Her untimely death amplified her popularity, and she is remembered as a talented and influential artist who left an indelible mark on the music industry.
31. Roberta Flack
Roberta Flack is a highly acclaimed American singer and songwriter known for her soulful voice and expressive performances. She possesses a mezzo-soprano voice type that is rich and captivating. It spans multiple octaves, allowing her to effortlessly deliver emotive and powerful performances.
Flack achieved widespread popularity in the 1970s with hits like "Killing Me Softly with His Song" and "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face."She has received multiple Grammy Awards and has been recognized for her contributions to the music industry.
Flack's unique blend of soul, jazz, and folk elements in her music has garnered her a dedicated fan base and critical acclaim. Her career has spanned several decades, and she continues to be regarded as one of the greatest voices in popular music.
Roberta Flack's distinct vocal talent, timeless hits, and lasting influence have solidified her as a legendary figure in the music industry.
32. Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera is a renowned American singer known for her mezzo-soprano voice type. However, she has a powerful and versatile vocal range with a four-octave range. She has the ability to effortlessly navigate through high notes and belting techniques, displaying remarkable control and agility.
Aguilera rose to prominence in the late 1990s and early 2000s, gaining widespread popularity with hits like "Genie in a Bottle" and "Beautiful."Her career has been marked by numerous achievements, including multiple Grammy Awards and the distinction of being one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
Aguilera has successfully transitioned between various musical genres, from pop and R&B to soul and jazz, showcasing her vocal prowess and artistry. Christina Aguilera's powerful vocals, chart-topping hits, and enduring success have solidified her as one of the most celebrated and iconic singers of her generation.
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