African-American female singer-songwriters

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  1. Nicki Minaj

    Nicki Minaj


    Onika Tanya Maraj (born December 8, 1982), better known by her stage name Nicki Minaj (/mɪˈnɑːʒ/), is a Trinidadian-born American rapper, singer, songwriter and actress. Born in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago and raised in South Jamaica, Queens, New York, Minaj earned public attention after releasing three mixtapes between 2007–09. She signed a recording contract with Young Money Entertainment in 2009.

  2. Beyoncé Knowles

    Beyoncé Knowles


    Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter (/bˈjɒns/ bee-YON-say) (born September 4, 1981) is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, she performed in various singing and dancing competitions as a child, and rose to fame in the late 1990s as lead singer of R&B girl-group Destiny's Child. Managed by her father Mathew Knowles, the group became one of the world's best-selling girl groups of all time. Their hiatus saw the release of Beyoncé's debut album, Dangerously in Love (2003), which established her as a solo artist worldwide; it sold 11 million copies, earned five Grammy Awards and featured the Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles "Crazy in Love" and "Baby Boy".

  3. Kelly Rowland

    Kelly Rowland


    Kelendria Trene "Kelly" Rowland (born February 11, 1981) is an American singer, songwriter, actress and television personality. Rowland rose to fame in the late 1990s as a member of Destiny's Child, one of the world's best-selling girl groups of all time. During their hiatus, Rowland released her debut solo album Simply Deep (2002), which sold 2.5 million copies worldwide and produced the number-one single "Dilemma" with Nelly, as well as the international top-ten hit "Stole". Rowland also transitioned into acting, with guest appearances in television sitcoms, and starring roles in Freddy vs. Jason (2003) and The Seat Filler (2004).

  4. Mariah Carey

    Mariah Carey


    Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1969 or 1970) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. She rose to prominence after releasing her self-titled debut studio album Mariah Carey in 1990; it went multiplatinum and spawned four consecutive number one singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Under the guidance of Columbia Records executive and later husband Tommy Mottola, Carey continued booking success with follow-up albums Emotions (1991), Music Box (1993), and Merry Christmas (1994), and was established as Columbia's highest-selling act. Daydream (1995) made music history when its second single "One Sweet Day", a duet with Boyz II Men, spent a record sixteen weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100, and it remains the longest-running number-one song in U.S. chart history. During the recording of the album, Carey began to deviate from her slower R&B and ballad-oriented beginnings and slowly transitioned into hip hop. This musical change became further established with the release of Butterfly (1997), which was released during the midst of her separation from Mottola.

  5. Ciara



    Ciara Princess Harris (born October 25, 1985), known mononymously as Ciara (pronounced /sˈɛrə/, see-ERR), is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, actress and fashion model. Born in Austin, Texas, she traveled around the world during her childhood, eventually moving to Atlanta, Georgia where she joined the girl group Hearsay; however, the group disbanded after having differences. It was at this time Ciara was noticed for her songwriting. In 2002, Ciara met music producer Jazze Pha. With his help, she signed a record deal with LaFace Records.

  6. Alicia Keys

    Alicia Keys


    Alicia Augello Cook (born January 25, 1981), known by the pseudonym Alicia Keys, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. Keys released her debut album with J Records, having had previous record deals first with Columbia and then Arista Records. Keys' debut album, Songs in A Minor, was a commercial success, selling over 12 million copies worldwide. She became the best-selling new artist and best-selling R&B artist of 2001. The album earned Keys five Grammy Awards in 2002, including Best New Artist and Song of the Year for "Fallin'" becoming the second American recording artist to win five Grammys in one night. Her second studio album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, was released in 2003 and was also another success worldwide, selling eight million copies. The album garnered her an additional four Grammy Awards in 2005. Later that year, she released her first live album, Unplugged, which debuted at number one in the United States. She became the first female to have an MTV Unplugged album to debut at number one and the highest since Nirvana in 1994.

  7. Christina Milian

    Christina Milian


    Christine Flores (born September 26, 1981), better known as Christina Milian (/mɪliˈɑːn/), is an American singer, songwriter and actress. At the age of 19, Milian signed a contract with Def Jam. In 2001, Milian released her self-titled debut album, which featured the singles "AM to PM" and "When You Look at Me"; "AM to PM" charted with in the Top 40 of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and both peaked in the top three on the UK Singles Chart. In 2004, Milian released her second studio album It's About Time, which provided her first major U.S. hit, "Dip It Low", which reached number five on the U.S. Billboard chart. "Whatever U Want" was released as the album's second single. Both singles charted within the Top 10 of the UK chart.

  8. Toni Braxton

    Toni Braxton


    Toni Michele Braxton (born October 7, 1967) is an American R&B singer-songwriter, pianist, record producer, actress, television personality, and philanthropist. Rising to fame in the beginning of the 1990s, Braxton quickly established herself as an R&B icon and became one of the best-selling female artists of the 1990s decade, garnering her honorific titles such as the "Queen of R&B" and being recognized as one of the most outstanding voices of this generation.

  9. Janet Jackson

    Janet Jackson


    Janet Damita Jo Jackson (born May 16, 1966) is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Known for a series of sonically innovative, socially conscious and sexually provocative records, as well as elaborate stage shows, television and film roles, she has been a prominent figure in popular culture for over 25 years. The youngest child of the Jackson family, she began her career with the variety television series The Jacksons in 1976 and went on to appear in other television shows throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, including Good Times and Fame.

  10. Keri Hilson

    Keri Hilson


    Keri Lynn Hilson (born December 5, 1982) is an American singer, songwriter, actress and record producer. She was born and raised in Decatur, Georgia, and spent most of her youth working with producer Anthony Dent, as a songwriter and background vocalist for several R&B and hip hop artists. By the age of 14, Hilson had secured a record deal with the girl group D'Signe, who later disbanded. She attended Oxford College of Emory University and Emory University in Atlanta, while she continued writing songs for artists, including Britney Spears and Mary J. Blige, with the production and songwriting team, The Clutch. In 2006, Hilson signed with American rapper and producer Timbaland's record label, Mosley Music. Her breakthrough came the following year after appearing on Timbaland's single "The Way I Are", which topped charts around the world.

  11. Queen Latifah

    Queen Latifah


    Dana Elaine Owens (born March 18, 1970), professionally known by her stage name Queen Latifah, is an American singer, songwriter, rapper, actress, model, television producer, record producer, comedienne, and talk show host. Born in Newark, New Jersey, she signed with Tommy Boy Records in 1989. In November 1989, she had released her debut album All Hail the Queen (1989), featuring the hit single "Ladies First" with Monie Love. Latifah released her second album Nature of a Sista (1991), which was her final album with Tommy Boy Records.

  12. Raven-Symoné



    Raven-Symoné Christina Pearman (/ˈr.vən sɪˈmn/; born December 10, 1985) is an American actress, comedian, model, singer, songwriter, dancer, television producer and talk show host. She first appeared on television in 1989 on The Cosby Show as Olivia Kendall. She released her debut album, Here's to New Dreams in 1993; the single, "That's What Little Girls Are Made Of" charted number 68 on the US Billboard Hot 100. The next album, Undeniable, was released on May 4, 1999.

  13. Keke Palmer

    Keke Palmer


    Lauren Keyana "Keke" Palmer (born August 26, 1993) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and television personality. Palmer was born in Harvey, Illinois and raised in Robbins, Illinois. After Palmer's film debut, Palmer and her family moved to California to help her pursue a career in acting. Palmer released her debut album, So Uncool, on September 18, 2007 through Atlantic Records. The album failed to chart on the US Billboard 200 but did chart at number 85 on the R&B chart. The album was preceded by the lead single "Keep It Movin'".

  14. Keyshia Cole

    Keyshia Cole


    Keyshia Cole (born October 15, 1981) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, businesswoman and television personality. She was born in Oakland, California, and her career began when she met MC Hammer at the age of twelve and later met rapper Tupac Shakur. At the age of eighteen she moved to Los Angeles and was later introduced to A&M Records. She released her debut album, The Way It Is (2005), which spawned five singles: "Never", "I Changed My Mind", "(I Just Want It) To Be Over", "I Should Have Cheated", and "Love". It was certified gold within 17 weeks, and then platinum just eight weeks later. The album stayed on the charts for over a year, eventually selling over 1.6 million copies.

  15. Mya



    Mýa Marie Harrison (born October 10, 1979), better known simply as Mýa /ˈm.ə/, is an American hip hop and R&B singer, songwriter and actress. Harrison's eponymous debut album with (through) Interscope Records was released in April 1998. It sold over one million copies in the United States, producing the gold-certified top ten single "It's All About Me" featuring Sisqó. Her second studio album, platinum-plus selling Fear of Flying was released in 2000 and became a worldwide success, with single "Case of the Ex" becoming Mýa's breakthrough hit, topping the Australian Singles Chart for two consecutive weeks.

  16. Brandy Norwood

    Brandy Norwood


    Brandy Rayana Norwood (born February 11, 1979), better known mononymously as Brandy, is an American recording artist and entertainer. Born into a musical family in McComb, Mississippi and raised in Carson, California, she enrolled in performing arts schools as a child and performed as a backing vocalist for teen groups. From 1993 to 1994, Norwood appeared in a supporting role on the short-lived ABC sitcom Thea and signed with Atlantic Records. The following year, she released her self-titled debut album. Norwood starred in the UPN sitcom Moesha as the title character, which lasted six seasons and resulted in numerous other roles. She resumed her music career in 1998 with the widely successful duet with Monica, "The Boy Is Mine", and her second album, Never Say Never.

  17. Naya Rivera

    Naya Rivera


    Naya Rivera Dorsey (born Naya Marie Rivera; January 12, 1987) is an American actress and singer, known for playing Santana Lopez on Fox's musical comedy-drama television series Glee. She also played the role of Hillary Winston on The Royal Family at the age of 4, for which she received a Young Artist Award nomination. Her first solo single "Sorry", featuring American rapper Big Sean, was released on September 17, 2013.

  18. Ashanti



    Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas (born October 13, 1980) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer and actress. Ashanti is most famous for her eponymous debut album, which featured the hit song "Foolish", and sold over 503,000 copies in its first week of release throughout the U.S. in April 2002. In 2003, the self-titled debut album won Ashanti her first Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B album.

  19. Missy Elliott

    Missy Elliott


    Melissa Arnette "Missy" Elliott (born July 1, 1971) is an American singer, songwriter, rapper and record producer. Her first major success came as a songwriter with childhood friend and producer Timbaland on projects for Aaliyah, 702, Total, and SWV. As a record producer and songwriter, she has worked with Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera, and Beyoncé as well as contemporary artists Keyshia Cole, Tamia, Monica and Ciara.

  20. Willow Smith

    Willow Smith


    Willow Camille Reign Smith (born October 31, 2000), known professionally as Willow is an American singer, actress and dancer. She is the daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, and the younger sister of Jaden Smith and half-sister of Willard Carroll "Trey" Smith III. Smith made her acting debut in 2007 in the film I Am Legend and later appeared in Kit Kittredge: An American Girl alongside Abigail Breslin. She received a Young Artist Award for her performance.

  21. Jada Pinkett Smith

    Jada Pinkett Smith


    Jada Koren Pinkett Smith (/ˌdə ˌpɪŋkɨt ˈsmɪθ/; born Jada Koren Pinkett; September 18, 1971) is an American actress, singer-songwriter, and businesswoman. She began her career in 1990, when she made a guest appearance in the short-lived sitcom True Colors. She starred in A Different World, produced by Bill Cosby, and she featured opposite Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor (1996). She starred in dramatic films such as Menace II Society (1993) and Set It Off (1996). She has appeared in more than 20 films in a variety of genres, including Scream 2, Ali, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, Madagascar, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.

  22. Aretha Franklin

    Aretha Franklin


    Aretha Louise Franklin (born March 25, 1942) is an American singer and musician. Franklin began her career singing gospel at her father, minister C. L. Franklin's church as a child. In 1960, at the age of 18, Franklin embarked on a secular career, recording for Columbia Records only achieving modest success. Following her signing to Atlantic Records in 1967, Franklin achieved commercial acclaim and success with songs such as "Respect", "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" and "Think". These hits and more helped her to gain the title The Queen of Soul by the end of the 1960s decade.

  23. Faith Evans

    Faith Evans


    Faith Renée Evans (born June 10, 1973) is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, actress, and author. Born in Florida and raised in New Jersey, Evans relocated to Los Angeles in 1993 for a career in the music business. After working as a backing vocalist for Al B. Sure and Christopher Williams, she became the first female artist to contract with Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs' Bad Boy Entertainment recording company in 1994, for which she collaborated with several label mates such as Mary J. Blige and Carl Thomas and released three platinum-certified studio albums between 1995 and 2001, including Faith (1995), Keep the Faith (1998) and Faithfully (2001).

  24. Whoopi Goldberg

    Whoopi Goldberg


    Whoopi Goldberg (ˈhwʊpi, born Caryn Elaine Johnson; November 13, 1955) is an American actress, comedienne, political activist, writer, producer, and television host. Although Goldberg made her film debut in the avant-garde ensemble film Citizen: I'm Not Losing My Mind, I'm Giving It Away (1982), her breakthrough role was playing Celie, a mistreated black woman in the Deep South in the period drama film The Color Purple (1985). For her performance, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

  25. China Anne McClain

    China Anne McClain


    China Anne McClain (born August 25, 1998) is an American singer-songwriter, actress, dancer and member of the girl group McClain. China's career began in 2005 when she was seven years old acting in the movie The Gospel; however, she became nationally known after 2007, when she joined the cast of the series Tyler Perry's House of Payne as Jazmine Payne, and internationally as Chyna Parks, the star of the Disney Channel television series A.N.T. Farm.

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