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15 best female dancehall artists of all time

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For more than four decades, dancehall music has grown from reggae’s sub-genre to a global sound. While the most famous musicians in this genre are men, female dancehall artists have also contributed to the sound’s growth. They have recorded some of the genre classics in addition to collaborating with their male counterparts.

Who is the queen of dancehall music? The discussion of who is the queen of this genre has been a divisive discourse. However, it is worth noting that the genre has produced some of the best female artists in the world over the past four decades.

Best female dancehall artists of all time

When it comes to the best female dancehall artists of all time, there is a long list of great artists that can be considered among the greats. Here are those that are synonymous with the genre and have helped it grow to the highest level.

1. Lady Patra

Lady Patra was part of the first generation of female dancehall artists. She created one of the best discographies by a female artist in Jamaica. For example, she was the first Jamaican female to be featured in Billboard Top 100 through a feature song with Shabba Ranks.

Besides her impressive discography, Lady Patra is one of the most commercially successful female dancehall artists of all time. Before the 1980s, dancehall music was eccentric, but Patra redefined the notion by releasing music for global consumption.

2. Lady Saw

For close to two decades, Lady Saw, born Marion Hall, was highly regarded as the queen of dancehall. Besides talent, her lyrics and approach to writing songs made her a key figure in the dancehall scene in the late 1980s.

While she is currently a gospel minister, her songs provide a blueprint for young female artists. For example, her track, It’s Raining, showed women they can sing about anything without censoring.

3. Shelly Thunder

Shelly Thunder is a dancehall artist and one of the most prominent musicians in the genre. She was part of the generation that sharpened the sound to what we know today as dancehall, thanks to endless experiments.

She started recording music in the 1980s. While she has never retired from making music, Shelly is not as active as before. Her greatest album of all time is Small Horsewoman, which she released in 1986.

4. Tanya Stephens

Vivienne Tanya Stephenson, commonly known as Tanya Stephens, was the most popular Jamaican female artist in the 1990s. The main reason for her success was her unmatched lyricism and ability to incorporate conscience subjects in her music. Besides her talent, the artist has one of the best dancehall albums of all time — Rebelution.

Tanya’s singles such as These Streets and It’s a Pity ruled the international dancehall charts, especially in the Caribbean and Europe. The dancehall queen was also part of the 1997’s Reggae Gold, which was a compilation album.

5. Alaine Laughton

Alaine Laughton, commonly known as Alaine, is without a doubt the most consistent female dancehall artist. Even though she has lived most of her life in the USA, Alaine is one of the most authentic artists in the genre.

While the 2005 hit, No Ordinary Love, was not her debut song, the project created enough buzz in the global scene. Since then, Alaine has consistently released projects which have charted in different countries.

6. Tami Chynn

Tami Chynn has been in the music industry for more than 15 years. Although she started as a dancer in Shaggy’s touring band to the USA, the 37 years old (as of 2020) is one of the best female dancehall artists of all time.

Her journey to being one of the most incredible acts in this genre has not been a smooth ride. However, she has some of the outstanding records in this genre, such as Frozen (in which she featured Akon).

7. Nadine Sutherland

Nadine Sutherland got into music in the 1980s. However, she recorded most of her classic albums in the mid-1990s. The 52-year-old dancehall artist (as of 2020) is still involved in music, even though she does not record anymore.

Nadine Sutherland is one of the few female artists that worked closely with Bob Marley. Thanks to her close association with the legendary musician, she has close connections with Tiff Gong and VP Records.

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8. Queen Ifrica

Ventrice Morgan, commonly known as Queen Ifrica, is one of the Jamaican female dancehall artists still relevant today. Since 1995, the talented artist has recorded some of the most iconic sounds in the dancehall genre. The most popular among them is Lioness on the Rise.

Besides recording music and touring the world, Queen Ifrica is also a DJ and a respected Rastafarian faith member. Due to her passion for religion, she has also recorded some classic Reggae songs.

9. Spice

For the last two decades, Grace Latoya Hamilton, also known as Spice, has released some of the most memorable dancehall songs in the 21 century. Although some of her songs have been controversial, such as Romping Shop, she is on the list of female dancehall artists of all time.

The mother of two has managed to release great songs. However, the 2014 So Mi like It is arguably her biggest song yet.

10. Sister Nancy

Sister Nancy was the first professional female DJ to play dancehall music. After an impressive career as a DJ, she started recording music in the early 1980s. Since then, the talented dancehall artist has become a key figure in the genre.

Born Ophlin Russell, the dancehall musician has released two classic albums. However, her latest project, Sister Nancy Meets Fireproof, is arguably her best album yet.

11. Ce’cile

Ce’cile has dominated the dancehall scene for the past two decades. Her albums, such as Bad Gyal (2008) and Music + Magic, have recorded impressive sales numbers worldwide.

Ce’cile, who her real name is Claudine Charlton, has been active in music for over 25 years. However, her debut in the commercial scene was through a feature with Sean Paul in 2001. Since then, she has become one of the best Jamaican contemporary artists.

12. Lady G

Janice Fyffe, alias Lady G, is a dancehall icon and one of the genre’s pioneers. Since 1984, she has consistently recorded music that most fans term as ‘undiluted’ dancehall. To date, her biggest song is Nuff Respect.

Apart from recording music, she is also a DJ. Lady G is a respected gatekeeper in dancehall, thanks to her musical ear.

13. J Capri

J Capri was regarded as the new queen of dancehall by many Jamaican media outlets. Although she passed away in 2015, her impact in the genre is felt even today.

The 2014 song, Reverse It, was a hit song. However, J Capri’s biggest hit was Pull up To Mi Bumper, in which she was a featured artist.

14. Shenseea

Chinsea Lee, alias Shenseea is a young and talented artist. Although she is only 24 years as of 2020, she is one of the greatest dancehall artists. Shenseea’s songs, such as Blessed, have been streamed million times across different platforms.

However, she became a household name after working with Vybz Kartel. While her discography is not as diverse as other female artists, Shenseea has untapped talent.

15. Koffee

Koffee is currently the biggest dancehall/reggae artist. In two years, the young artist has worked with the most prominent producers, both in Jamaica and the USA. Although she started as a conscious reggae artist, she has slowly shifted to dancehall in the past year.

The main reason why Koffee is considered the dancehall wonder kid is her unmatched singing ability. This is why established artists such as Chronixx are working with her. Her approach to music has enabled her songs to feature in both dancehall and reggae charts.

All the best female dancehall artists highlighted above are from different generations. While some artists such as Koffee and Lady Patra may have many differences regarding their sound and subject matter in their songs, they have all made dancehall a global sound.

As Jamaican music keeps evolving and growing in influence at the same time, Tuko.co.ke has created a list of the top trending dancehall songs. The list features artistes such as Sean Paul, Mavado, Vybz Kartel, Alkaline, and Popcaan, among others.

Dancehall, which started out much sooner than genres such as reggae, comprises of singing or rapping over danceable music riddims. While it originated from Jamaica, it is now one of the most popular genres with a huge following across the world.

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