Famous Alto Singers ( Top 12 )

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In today’s world where most of the modern singers use either autotune or enhance their voice post-production, it is becoming harder and harder to find real singers who do have the talent and skill to sing alto. True contralto singers are rare especially in women, usually due to their lower vocal range which is much harder to achieve than any other vocal range. Usually, female singers who sing alto have a much deeper voice, and in some cases, if you do not know the artist you might confuse her with a man singing.

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The contralto range is between the E3 and F5 vocal range and is mostly sung from the chest. Singing contralto used to be very popular for classical music a while ago, although their presence has slowly faded away from classical music. If you are a fan of contralto singing your best chance of listening to some of the best alto singers is by listening to R&B music, if you want a more live performance other than concerts you can visit your local church for some soul music sung in alto. If you want to know what singers sound like Adele then check out my recent article Singers that sound like Adele ( Top 15 ).

Famous Alto Singers

Famous alto singers are celebrated for their rich, warm, and expressive vocal range. These talented artists captivate audiences with their unique timbre and ability to convey deep emotions through their singing. Among the notable alto singers throughout history are legendary performers like Aretha Franklin, known as the “Queen of Soul,” whose powerful and soulful voice touched the hearts of millions. Another renowned alto singer is Ella Fitzgerald, whose velvety smooth tones and impeccable phrasing made her one of the greatest jazz vocalists of all time.

Additionally, opera singers like Kathleen Ferrier and Marian Anderson have left an indelible mark on the world of classical music with their extraordinary talent and mesmerizing performances. These iconic alto singers have not only made significant contributions to the music industry but have also inspired generations of musicians and fans with their exceptional vocal abilities and artistry.

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1. Anita Baker ( Contralto 3 Octaves C#3-C#6 )

Born in 1958 Anita Baker is one of the most famous alto singers in the world. She became famous with her hit album Rapture, more specifically with her song titled “Sweet Love”. If you are a fan of R&B you are probably already familiar with Anita Baker. She has a very well-defined vocal range of 3 octaves, which she sings almost effortlessly. Anita Baker has won 1 BET Award, 8 Grammy Award, and 4 American Music Awards, and in 2013 she has been included in the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame. If you are an alto singer and you want to know what are the most common singing mistakes then check out my recent article Common singing mistakes ( Top 20 ).

2. Cher ( Contralto 3 octaves C#3-C#6 )

Borin in 1949 in America and her actual name is Cherilyn Sarkisian if you were born in the late ’80s or the early 90’s you probably heard a lot of not only songs bet also move voices performed by this alto singer. She became famous by singing with her husband folk-rock in 1965, the duo was named Sonny and Cher, and soon after she started her solo singing career. In addition to being a successful singer, she also became a very successful actor during the 1970s.

Her vocal range is 3 octaves 2 notes, she has an excellent singing technique and can hold notes for extended periods of time. A lot of famous singers have started singing fairly late and they still became successful, for more information check out my recent article Singers who started late ( Top 23 ).

3. Oleta Adams ( Contralto F3 – A#4 )

Born in 1953 into a religious family, her father was also a preacher and she has grown up surrounded by gospel music. Generally, gospel music is alto and Oleta Adams quickly adopted the style from an early age. She has been nominated for the Grammy Awards, and twice for the Soul Train Music Awards.

4. Annie Lennox ( Contralto 3 Octaves G2-C6 )

Born in 1954 Annie Lennox is a Scottish born singer and songwriter, she became famous by singing with the popular band The Tourists back in the 1970s. Her vocal type is contralto and she has a vocal range of 3 octaves and 3 notes ranging from G2 to C6. Annie Lennox is a very talented singer especially due to her impeccable vocal technique with which she can not only sing melisma but she can also keep high notes for long periods of time.

Annie Lennox mainly uses her head voice for singing, and she can use her head voice to produce either an operatic or a contemporary voice. Although she can sing melisma she does have difficulty singing more complex forms of melisma. If you also want to become a famous alto singer then check out my recent article How to sing better ( Top 47 Tips and Industry Secrets ).

5. Sade ( Contralto 3 Octaves G2-C6 )

Sade was born in 1959, her real name is Helen Folasade Adu but she often uses the name Sade or Sade Adu as a singer. Born in Nigeria and brought up in England as her parents emigrated from Nigeria to the UK sometime during her childhood. She became famous during the 1980s when she made her album Diamond Life which was one of the best-selling albums of that year. Sade managed to pull this off with her new band simply called Sade, which wasn’t even a year old before she becomes a household name during the ’80s.

In 1985 she got into the Billboard 200 in the UK with her album called Promise. Sade continued to sing from the mid-’80s till the early 2000’s when she took a well-deserved break for a couple of years, after which she came back to singing sometime in 2010.

6. Toni Braxton ( Contralto 3 Octaves Bb2- Bb5 )

If you are an 80’s or 90’s child you probably still remember Toni Braxton’s classic hit Unbreak my heart. Toni Braxton was born in 1970, she became famous during the early ’90s with her hit singles which topped the Billboard 200, with Another sad love song and Breathe Again. Her vocal type is contralto and her vocal range is 3 octaves, from Bp2 to Bp5, although she usually is either on the lower or the higher point of her vocal range while singing ballads especially.

7. Gladys Knight ( Contralto 3 Octaves G#3 – F6 )

Gladys Knight was born in 1944 in America, in addition to being a famous alto singer, she is also a businesswoman, actress, and published author. She became famous during the middle of the 1960s with her band Gladys Knight & the Pips, from then on the band would dominate the Billboard 100 two times in the first position. Her most successful songs are Midnight Train to Georgia and That’s what friends are for.

If you are a fan of R&B you will love her singing voice, she made several number one singles and albums during the ’80s and ’90s.

8. Tina Turner ( Contralto – Mezzo Soprano  3 octaves F2-C#6 )

Tina Turner’s real name is Anna Mae Bullock, she was born in 1939 in the USA. Tina Turner is known as the Queen of Rock’n’Roll, she became famous after meeting and singing with Ike Turner. After her debut songs with Ike Turner, she quickly began her solo singing career with several smashing hits, in total she sold over 200 million records in the world. Tina Turner is mostly known due to her contralto vocal type, her vocal range is 3 octaves and 4 notes.

9. Brandy ( Contralto – Mezzo Soprano 3 Octaves G2- E6 )

Brandy Norwood was born in 1979 in a family where there were several singers, which influenced her through her childhood to become a famous and very successful singer. She became famous in 1994 with her hit album named Brandy which sold over 6  million copies. Although some would argue that Brandy is a true alto singer as some consider her voice to be Mezzo-Soprano, her vocal range is around the region of an alto singer which is 3 octaves and 5 semitones, somewhere between G2-E6.

10. Chaka Khan ( Contralto – Mezzo-Soprano 3 Octaves B2-E6 )

Born in 1953 in the US, Chaka Khan’s real name is Yvette Marie Stevens. She became famous during the late 1970s with her band Rufus, and she was nicknamed the Queen of Funk due to her success and amazing singing talent. During her career, she has sold over 70 million records and has even won 10 Grammys. Chaka Khan’s voice is an alto with a flair of Mezzo-Soprano, she has a vocal range of 3 octaves. What sets apart Chaka Khan from other singers is the sheer power of her singing voice as she mainly uses her powerful head voice.

11. Patsy Cline ( Contralto 3 octaves D3-B5 ) 

Patsy Cline was born in 1932 in the USA, her real name was Virginia Patterson Hensley. She became famous during the early 1960s singing country music at different festivals. Most people consider Patsy Cline to be one of the most iconic contralto singers in the world. During her singing career, she has managed to combine country music with pop music, her vocal range was around 3 octaves. Patsy Cline died tragically in an airplane crash in 1963, while her career was fairly short she influenced a lot of young contralto singers.

12. Tracy Chapman ( Contralto 3 Octaves E3 – A5 )

Born in the USA, in 194 Tracy Chapman is a well-known alto singer and composer. Her voice is truly unique as it is even deeper than the voice of most alto singers. Some people could get confused by her gender due to her deep voice, after hearing her sing often people would think it is a man singing. Tracy Chapman during her career managed to get 6 Grammy nominations, including one for the Album of the Year.

Key Takeaways

  • Luciano Pavarotti was an Italian tenor known for his powerful and expressive voice. He was one of the most famous and influential opera singers of the 20th century.
  • Maria Callas was a Greek-American soprano renowned for her dramatic and versatile performances. She is considered one of the greatest opera singers of all time.
  • Kathleen Battle is an American soprano known for her agile and pure vocal quality. She has performed in various operas and is admired for her interpretation of Baroque and classical repertoire.


What celebrities sing alto?

Several celebrities are known for their alto singing voices, including Adele, Amy Winehouse, and Alicia Keys. However, it’s important to note that vocal ranges can vary, and some artists may sing in multiple vocal ranges depending on the song.

Who is the most famous alto singer?

One of the most famous alto singers in the contemporary music industry is Adele. Her rich and soulful alto voice has captivated audiences worldwide.

Is Billie Eilish an alto?

Billie Eilish is known for her unique vocal style, which often features a deep and breathy tone. While her exact vocal classification may vary, her voice has characteristics that align with the alto range.

Is Adele an alto singer?

Yes, Adele is widely recognized as an alto singer. Her powerful and resonant voice exhibits the warm and lower range characteristics typically associated with alto singers.