Oh there are many, but for beauty, two that come to mind are Janis Ian and Alison Krauss.
For uniqueness, Rickie Lee Jones and Ella.
I never paid much attention until Samsung started doing those ads using the "Similau" song, but I've come to really like Peggy Lee's singing style.
For beauty there was this lady called Julie London !
K D Lang
Based on the purity and sheer beauty of her voice, I would cite Judith Durham
, best known as the lead singer of The Seekers although she has had a distinguished solo career as well.
Following is a brief excerpt of comments about her provided by a British gentleman whose bio is shown at the end of an article he wrote entitled Judith Durham: The Voice of the 20th Century
. Obviously some of what he has to say in this paragraph and in the rest of the article is debatable, as well as being subjective to a considerable extent, but his comments are not without foundation IMO.
Judith Durham (of the Seekers) is the greatest of them all. The voice of the twentieth century, in my not very humble opinion. Clarity, spine-shivering (I’ve already used “spine-tingling” and I’m all for a bit of variety), astonishing purity – all that is obvious straightaway. But listen to The Carnival is Over or the amazing Just a Closer Walk and you hear a vocal beauty which is unique and reaches a level no one else can get near to. Callas is just a tear-jerker by comparison; Carpenter just a female crooner; Piaf just a screeching Gallic banshee. Judith Durham combines a bold, even brash, confidence in her own ability with a deeper humility which lends her remarkable sound an even more profound character.
I would add Carrie Newcomber to that list
I listened to an interview of Judy Collins where they were taking callers..a caller was explaining that in school, his teacher had a program that could show waveforms and compare voices with them. According to the caller, his teacher said Judy’s voice showed almost perfect form. FWIW.
I'll take EmmyLou Harris for the win.........
Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star)
Emmylou Harris, Iris Dement, Julie Miller, Patty Loveless, Rhonda Vincent, Alison Krauss, Rosanne Cash, Carter Carter, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, Darlene Love, Maria Muldaur, Joan Osborne, Maryann Price, Lou Ann Barton, Aimee Mann.
Maureen McGovern has one of the most "pure" tones I've ever heard. Listen to her interpretations of Arlen tunes if you can find the cd.
A second on Alison Krauss.
Add Carmen Gomes and Joan Armatrading. And exceptional recordings for Carmen.
Lisa Gerrard (Dead Can Dance)
Chantal Chamberland, Katie Melua, Kelly Sweet, Norah Jones..... they sound pretty sweet, and just for pure angelic sound try Jackie Evencho’s Awakening CD or some Nana Mouskouri
A second for Nancy Wilson and Ella.
Also: Lani Hall ( Sergio Mendes, et al );
Laura Nyro, and
Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane/Starship fame. Feed your head ..
Janis Joplin of Big Brother & The Holding Company. Piece of my heart ...
Kate Bush - The Kick Inside and Hounds Of Love. Running up that hill ...
Patti Smith - Horses and Radio Ethiopia Gloria and Redondo Beach!
Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention!
Given that the question focuses exclusively on "the instrument," and excludes repertoire etc., I'll add Connie Francis to my previous suggestion of Judith Durham.
No love here for Joan, Joni or Dusty?
Love the voice of Jennifer Rush, however these days the recording engineers put so much reverb on the voices that it is hard to tell the true sound of a voice.
Dani Klein from Vaya Con Dios
Holly Cole. If you have never listened to the Trio's "Temptation" do so. "Girl Talk" is another of where her voice is so intimate as to make you think she is singing for you alone.
I could probably add another voice or two every day for quite awhile (I love female voices), but above left out a few that simply MUST be included: Aretha Franklin, Arlene Smith (of The Chantels---you have GOT to hear her sing "Maybe"), Brenda Lee, Peggy Lee, Wanda Jackson, Ruth Brown, Lucinda Williams, Bonnie Raitt, Kasey Chambers, Dusty Springfield, and Judy Garland.
For me it's all about the emotion and soul:
The greats include:
and a few more.
They do not include:
Who have no soul.
And of course, how did I forget the gorgeous Hope Sandoval.
Jheena Lodwick, Jenifer Warnes, Eva Cassidy, Rebecca Pigeon,
Apparently none of you have heard Tierney Sutton, a very classy jazz singer with incredible backup musicians. She recently did an album of classic Joni Mitchell songs with Mark Summer and Turtle Island String Quartet “After Blue “. Give her a listen!
I'll check out Judith Durham All, because I trust you, and I certainly agree with Connie Francis, she's a natural.
I would like to add Mary Fahl of October Project. A beautifully pure but smoky voice. I really don't know of another voice like hers.
On last CBS Sunday Morning show, was introduced to singer
Marilyn Maye. Ms. Maye sings in the classic style of the 30s and 40s.
She was hitting her stride at the time of the British Invasion in the mid 60s and got lost in the shuffle. She is till going strong, in her 90s, and can be found on YouTube.
Thanks for the heads up. I'm a little ashamed to admit that at 63 I have heard of the Seekers, but nothing beyond that except for maybe Georgy Girl. I just ordered a best of CD with the songs you mentioned from Amazon prime for 8.99.
Lisa Gerrard and Tina Root.
Damn, how could I have left out Patsy Cline?! And Carole King?! And Big Mama Thornton (the female Howlin’ Wolf)?! Etta James, Eartha Kitt, Irma Thomas, Patti Page, and so many more.
Some of the same as mentioned by others and some I love I didn't see mentioned;
Anaïs Mitchell (No relation) Saw her live recently...unbelievable beauty in her voice, great songwriting/guitar and overall vibe, beautiful woman, inside and out;
Try "The Banks of the Nile" sung by Sandy Denny with her group Fotheringay...
Why has no one mentioned Tierney Sutton? Her work on Telarc is amazing.
Lulu's studio version of To Sir with Love is over the top