Best Female Vocalists Ballads

I am on the lookout to add to my extensive collection of music. It's been a while since I was 'on the lookout' for such.
My favorite music is ballads, male and female. Any suggestions on music spanning, say the past 5 or six years?
Album name AND Artist.
Any help will be greatly appreciated.
Mass popularity and my tastes are usually mutually exclusive, but there is a fairly recent new singer who has sold a lot of albums whom I really like. She's British, goes by the name of Adele, and is a great singer of ballads, even one by Dylan. She has only two albums, I believe, so get 'em both!
"Make Someone Happy" Sophie Milman
A relatively new artist whose work I have recently discovered is Antje Duvekot. Her most recent albums are:
The Near Demise of the Highwire Dancer (2009)
Antje Duvekot LIVE from all over the place (2011)
New Siberia (2012).
*Lost in Romance*/Lyn Stanley. I've got the 2-disc vinyl set (45rpm), and it is superb. Not sure if it's available in other formats.
For something not overproduced, genuine, from the heart... If you haven't already tapped into this, I would recommend the ballads of Richard and Linda Thompson. For instance, try the compilation Watching the Dark and skip to the ballads sung by Linda.
Ooh, good one Peter! Another incredible female is Julie Miller, a great songwriter and singer, wife and partner of the best producer/singer/guitarist/bandleader (for Emmylou Harris) working today, Buddy Miller.
Top of my list would be Cecile Mclorin Salvant's Woman Child but check out this long running thread and you should get all the suggestions you will ever need.
Meg Baird, "Dear Companion" (Drag City LP). A tremendous singer and a fine guitarist.
Katherine Jenkins from the UK. Fantastic.
I really have to take my hat off to you guys. The variation in tastes here is mind boggling. I'll add my recent favorites knowing that they don't overlap at all with most of these: Erykah Badu, Melody Gardot, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Nina Simone, Shirley Horn for a real classic, Regina Specktor and my favorite of Ricky Lee Jones.
If I may correct your last one, that's Rickie Lee Jones.
I would add Karrin Allyson to the list.
I wasn't going to mention my favorite "new" artist of the past few decades. The last time I recommended her, to the wife of a friend who was looking for a new female artist to like, the feedback I got was that the wife found Iris Dement "so melancholy". Well, so are Bach's Cello Concertos, right? I realized the woman was looking for superficial entertainment, not High Art.
Merle Haggard started telling people about Iris Dement in the mid-90's, so I got her "My Life" album. Holy f#@king sh*t! Her song "No Time To Cry" (which Merle himself recorded, the highest compliment one songwriter can pay another) is the most devastating song I have ever heard in all my 65 years. And it is a ballad, of sorts. She is very well recorded, her Singer-Songwriter/Acoustic/Bluegrass/Traditional Country sound really well captured. She has the best musicians in the world on her records, guys like Jerry Douglas (Alison Krauss) on Dobro and Stuart Duncan on Guitar. I took that album to CES in the late 90's, and as I was listening to NTTC on the Crosby modified Quad 63's, I felt the tears welling up in my eyes, until I could no longer hold them back. Made a fool of myself at CES!
Uh, Cello Suites, that is.
Ricky Van Shelton, a country music star, sang a song, "I Meant Every Word He Said".
Every time I hear this song, I tear up. Love gained, love lost, and the inevitable moment of truth when it's actually too late for you.
Thanks for sharing a beautiful moment!
I haven't seen the name Kat Edmundson...(sp?)
She's a clone of Joanie Sommers from the mid sixties.
Great music.
Kate Wolf sings some great ballads. I would look for her live album "Give Yourself to Love" or her greatest hits "Gold in California"

If you like this sort of western/cowboy/folk style music, I do not think you will be disappointed.

Thanks to Lrsky for this excellent thread idea
+1 for Kate Wolf and the GYTL album.
I love ballads and female vocalists/singer song writers. Here are a few. Allison Krause, Mary Fahl,Vienna Teng,Emmylou Harris, Lori McKenna,Melody Gardot. I agree with the poster who recommended Adele. Amazing voice.
I can't not mention the incredible version of "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?" Joan Osborne does in the documentary on the Motown house band. A Top 10 classic song is there ever was one (it's actually in my all-time Top 3, alongside "God Only Knows" by Brian Wilson/The Beach Boys), the original recording by Jimmy Ruffin is just insanely great. Joan's might be even better. I listen to it just about everyday at least once.
More than six years old (sorry), the ultimate ballads recording by a female
vocalist is, for me, "Here's To Life" by Shirley Horn. Featuring
the arrangements and some of the songs of the great Johnny Mandel, its a
For something current: a very interesting singer and one of the best female
jazz talents out there; and one who writes her own material, is Carmen
Lundy. Her brand new "Soul To Soul" is worth checking out.
Melody Gardot-"My One and Only Thrill" is a MUST have. She composed most of the songs with a really wonderful rendition of "Over the Rainbow", not one miss on this one.

Shirley Horn- For whatever reason this lady who recently passed away simply has not gotten the recognition she deserves. Her expressiveness is just too special. Buy any of her albums, you won't regret it.

Since I saw some country mentioned, I thought I would throw in this one. It's not in the past 6 years but if you LIKE country and you like ballads and you LIKE female harmonies and you don't have it you might pick up a copy of "Trio" Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. There are some wonderful solo performances by all three and a magical blending of their voices, very special to me.

While on female groups that have a unique blend of harmonies I would also throw in The Roches "Keep On Doing" A sister group that were popular in the early 80's, quirky and clearly an example of the sum is greater than the individual parts but can they harmonize! Robert Fripp produced.
Carole Kidd
Jo Stafford
Chris Connor
June Christy
Joannie Sommers
Sarah Vaughn
Doris Day
Julie London
Nancy Wilson (early stuff)
Carmen McCrea (early stuff)
Oregonpapa, nice list.
But you forgot the Queen of them all. Mildred Bailey !
+1 for Kat Edmundson. Bdp24, do you mean Stuart Duncan on fiddle--or maybe Bryon Sutton on guitar?
I add my endorsement of Kate Wolf. I would also like to add that Kate wrote the songs she sang and great songs they are. She is sorely missed.

Her "words fell like rain on the dry desert plain. Precious and so quickly gone."
for someone a little different and a bit quirky try
Antje Duvekot. She's a good songwriter and very good singer. By that i mean that her phrasing and interpretations are as least as good as the quality of her voice. Her cover of Joplin's "Mercedes Benz" is brilliant.
for someone a little different and a bit quirky try
Antje Duvekot. She's a good songwriter and very good singer. By that i mean that her phrasing and interpretations are as least as good as the quality of her voice. Her cover of Joplin's "Mercedes Benz" is brilliant. She also does a great acoustic cover of Queen's "Fat Bottom Girls" Who knew?
Another one for Kate Wolf ," CLOSE TO YOU" is my favorite.
Another one I have been loving recently is Valerie June's Pushin' Against Stone. She's not really a balladeer but she is been described as an "emotive amalgamation of blues, folk, gospel, soul, Appalachian and bluegrass". Very retro sound.
Alison Krauss, Forget about it, now that I ve found you
karryn Allison, any CD
Diana Krall
Karla Bonoff
Johnny Hartman & John Coltrane
Add Vienna Teng. I'm not a fan of all of her choices but her voice is amazing and when I like the material...Wowza!
Oops! Tostadosunitos, you are absolutely correct about Stuart Duncan being a fiddler, not a guitarist. And yes, Mr. Sutton is an excellent guitarist (and singer), thought it's Bryan :-).
And an outstanding fiddler at that!
I'll second Shirley Horn, and you can add "Cecile McLorin Salvant".
Sinéad O'Connor is my choice and +1 to Melody Gardot.
I am historically not a big Sinead O Conner fan but gotta say I always found her interesting and am almost always pleasantly surprised when I hear her stuff.

Same true for Milla Jojovich. "The Divine Comedy" is quite good. She did this when still quite young and demonstrated outstanding artistry and ability to present it. Whouda thunk it?
Second the suggestion of Vienna Teng -- be on the lookout for her live CD, "The Moment Always Vanishing", a great recreation of a small concert setting and a disc that rewards whatever improvements you make to your system