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In pop music lore, these vintage female vocalists are tops

Richard G. Carter | 10/12/2012, 4:17 p.m.
Colony Records was my place for original Black R&B

"Someone left the cake out in the rain. I don't think that I can take it, 'cause it took so long to bake it, and I'll never have that recipe again. Oh, no..."

--Donna Summer, "MacArthur Park" (Casablanca Records, 1978)

Although original Black rhythm and blues is my favorite genre, I've always loved tried-and-true popular music. As a result, I've compiled a directory of my favorite vintage female pop vocalists with a celebrated body of work. No one-hit wonders here.

So alphabetically, here are my top 30 female pop vocalists from the days of yore, followed by some of their best-known records. While many had blues, jazz and R&B hits, this is about their signature pop songs over the decades. And it wasn't an easy task.

Pearl Bailey: "It Takes Two to Tango"; "Baby It's Cold Outside"; "Come Rain or Come Shine"; "My Man"; "Hello, Dolly"; "Say Si- Si"; "God Bless the Child"

Laura Branigan: "Gloria"; "Imagination"; "Solitaire"; "Lonely Nights"; "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You"; "Hold Me"

Kim Carnes: "Bette Davis Eyes"; "Everybody Needs Someone"; "I Pretend"; "I'll Be Here Where the Heart Is"; "Crazy in the Night"; "More Love"; "What About Me"

Irene Cara: "Fame"; "Flashdance"; "Out Here on My Own"; "Breakdance"; "Why Me"; "the Dream (Hold On to Your Dream)"; "Anyone Can See"

June Christy: "Something Cool"; "Midnight Sun"; "I'll Take Romance"; "Shoo-Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy"; "Get Happy"; "I Should Care"; "It Could Happen to You"

Chris Connor: "All About Ronnie"; "The Thrill is Gone"; "It's All Right With Me"; "All Dressed Up With a Broken Heart"; "Lullaby of Birdland"; "Try a Little Tenderness"

Doris Day: "I'll Never Stop Loving You"; "The Very Thought of You"; "It's Magic"; "Love Me or Leave Me"; "Secret Love"; "Too Marvelous"; "With a Song in My Heart"

Ella Fitzgerald: "Air Mail Special"; "Yellow Basket"; "But Not for Me"; "Trying"; "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean"; "That's My Desire"; "Goodnight My Love"

Roberta Flack: "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"; "Killing Me Softly With His Song"; "Where is the Love"; "Feel Like Makin' Love"; "Quiet Fire"

Aretha Franklin: "Natural Woman"; "Precious Lord"; "I Surrender Dear"; "Never Grow Old"; "Sparkle"; "Let Me in Your Life"

Judy Garland: "Over the Rainbow"; "The Man That Got Away"; "Easter Parade"; "The Trolley Song"; "You Made Me Love You"; "Swanee"; "Look for the Silver Lining"

Billie Holiday: "God Bless the Child"; "Strange Fruit"; "Fine and Mellow"; "I Cried for You"; "Body and Soul"; "All or Nothing at All"; "Embraceable You"; "My Man"

Lena Horne: "Stormy Weather"; "Moanin' Low"; "Love Me or Leave Me"; "Someone to Watch Over Me"; "Why Was I Born"

Whitney Houston: "I Will Always Love You"; "The Star Spangled Banner"; "The Greatest Love of All"; "So Emotional"; "Where Do Broken Hearts Go"; "One Moment in Time"

Etta James: "At Last"; "Trust in Me"; "These Foolish Things"; "A Sunday Kind of Love"; "Fools Rush In"; "All I Could Do Was Cry"; "Something's Got a Hold on Me"

Joni James: "Why Don't You Believe Me"; "Have You Heard"; "My Love, My Love"; "Little Things Mean a Lot"; "Wishing Ring"; "How Important Can It Be"