Five transformative female vocalists born between 1950 and 1970

These amazing female vocalists helped transform music and each was born between 1950 and 1970 (OK, one was 1971).
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A great deal has been written about Dolores O’Riodan’s voice. The way she seamlessly blended traditions as diverse as Gregorian chant and heavy metal screaming into something truly unique. The way she embellished notes with her trademark pseudo-yodeling. The way she leaned into her Irishness – accent and all. As lead singer of the Cranberries, she recorded major hits not just in Ireland and America but across the planet.

Faye Wong covered the Cranberries' “Dreams” in the early ‘90s and opened up Chinese Cantopop to major Western influences. The instantly recognizable vocal flourishes on Cranberries hits like “Zombie” and “Linger,” have inspired countless subsequent singers, men and women alike, to develop their own unique signatures.

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After her death in 2018, dozens of tributes from other musicians flooded social media. Michaelle Branch reminisced about hearing O’Riordan as a young girl and “wanting to be just like her.” Maggie Rogers wrote that O’Riordan’s voice “helped me understand my place in the world.” And fellow Irish musician Hozier summed it all up by noting that hearing O’Riordan’s unforgettable voice “threw into question what a voice could sound like in that context of rock.”

In a very real sense, that is what all the singers noted in this article, and indeed the ones in parts 1 and 2, did for modern music, Their voices – their styles – and their attitudes all posed that same question. They showed how voices could do more than merely put lyrics to a melody. They showed how voices could be just as creative, expansive, and challenging as any instrument in a modern music ensemble.

Must listens: "ZOMBIE" and "LOUD AND CLEAR"

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