Jazz Songs for Female Singers!

As a voice teacher, one of the genres I am consistently suggesting that students try is jazz.
Why? A few reasons! One reason is that learning a jazz standard really helps you get stronger with your vocal phrasing. At the same time, is great for vocalists is because it allows for more freedom in your musicianship: you can play more with tempo, try some scat, etc.

Don’t feel that jazz is best for low, smoky voices, though! Opera diva Renee Fleming, a soprano, is a huge fan of singing jazz. In fact, she made money performing jazz at night while studying classical voice during the day as a young singer ! Remember that all of these songs have been sung in every imaginable key. 

Here is a list of 15 great jazz songs for female vocalists!

“’Round Midnight”- this sultry and mysterious tune was written by the great Thelonious Monk. Contraltos would really shine with this piece!  Be sure to check out the renditions by both Ella Fitzgerald and Linda Ronstadt. 

“The Man I Love”- There have been many fantastic renditions of this simple but heartfelt song by the Gershwins, but to get inspired, listen to the  great Lena Horne as she gives it her all with this ballad

“Why Don’t You Do Right?”- ok, so perhaps the most memorable performance was done by a cartoon (Jessica Rabbit in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?), but the legendary Peggy Lee gives it a different kind of sass! I loooove Peggy Lee! 

“Crazy He Calls Me”- this charming 1949 classic would be wonderful for a singer who really wants to show off her strong middle range. The fabulous Billie Holiday gives a terrific rendition (well, this IS Billie Holiday we're talking about).

“The Man That Got Away”- you want a jazz ballad with some serious pain in it? Well, this song will do the trick! We all know this as one of Judy Garland’s big hits. Part of the fun of being a singer is seeing what YOU can do to make this , and other songs, your own.  Standards are meant to be personalized! 

“Summertime”- those Gershwins sure could write a memorable jazz tune! Although originally an aria in a well known American opera (“Porgy and Bess”), most of us know this as a laid back jazz song sung in a lower key.  Modern day jazz chanteuse Norah Jones sings a wonderful rendition, be sure to give it a listen. 

“Autumn Leaves”- talk about haunting and gorgeous! This song may be short, but it’s so fun to sing. Here is proof that all voices can sing jazz: the Wagnerian soprano Helen Traubel sounds just as fabulous singing this as she does opera...it's true! Listen to her sing it, and DO check out her other takes on jazz standards. You'd never know what her "day job" was! 

“Come Rain or Come Shine”- this mid tempo standard has sass AND heart in it. And yes, I'm going to suggest yet another dramatic opera singer to listen to, the late , great, Eileen Farrell. Like Traubel, she knew how to sing jazz as well as an aria! 

“Send in the Clowns”- yes, it’s another musical theatre piece, but many theatre songs have turned into standards that are fit for a jazz club. This is definitely one of them.  Want proof? Listen to Sarah Vaughn sing it! What a legend! 

“Someone to Watch Over Me”- simple, sweet, and we all know it and love it! This is a marvelous song for beginners of ALL ages. There are countless renditions, but one I have grown to love is the one by Amy Winehouse. A true talent. 

“Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”- Marilyn’s performance may be truly iconic, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have fun with this song- and it’s ALL about the fun factor. If you want to see someone other than Marilyn sing it, check out Julie London.
“Black Coffee”- it’s jazz, with a blues-y lyrics! This is a rainy day jazz classic, and also good for showing off vocal range. I'm going to once again suggest you check out Ms. Sarah Vaughn! 

“I’ve Got a Crush on You”- flirtatious yet overly so, this is a wonderful song for female jazz singers that’s hardly overdone! Versatile vocalist Linda Ronstadt sings it beautifully. It was one of the first "jazz standards" albums I recall listening to when I studied voice-  jazz, mariachi, country, rock, light opera....what is it Linda CAN'T do??!!

“Take the A Train”- this one is best left for jazz singers with a bit more experience, as you REALLY must know how to scat to sell this swinging number! One the best scat singers of all time, Ella Fitzgerald, is just thrilling with one of her best known numbers. Listen to Ella, you won't need to hear another version! 

“Cry Me a River”- very dramatic, this song would be an excellent closer! Like in all jazz songs, it’s all a matter of what you choose to do with the tempo and the words.  Modern day jazz diva, Diana Krall sings a simple and lovely rendition. I adore her smoky tone! 

These are only fifteen of countless FABULOUS songs out there for you to discover! 

Feeling ready to jump in? I'm ready for you,too! If you want to take a look at one of these incredible, timeless songs OR want help finding another one- you know who to reach out to!

Book a private lesson with me here! 

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