When it comes to jazz singers, Billie, Ella, Sarah, and Nina may be firm favourites, but this vocal style is sprinkled with an array of exceptional singers ready to make their mark on this legendary genre. Can we still call it jazz? Or is it just that jazz as we know it is changing? Either way, it doesn’t make these vocalists any less incredible. So, without further ado, here are ten women who are making an impact on the world of jazz.

Diana Krall

The very embodiment of sultriness, Diana Krall makes every melody she puts her voice to unapologetically her own: whether she’s singing standard jazz, a bossa-nova classic, a Christmas hit or 70’s pop. The Canadian is also a gifted pianist with a clean, refined style. Just like her idol Nat King Cole—to whom she dedicated her 1996 album All for You—she plays the piano as if it were simply an extension of her voice. Whether playing solo, in a trio or with an ocean of strings, Diana Krall always outdoes herself. And her speciality? Her covers: an art in their own right, and one she masters like no other. “I don’t think I was born a songwriter like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell or Gershwin, but I find singing other people’s songs still helps me express myself.” Her musical performances are also accompanied by a real sense of tradition (that of Jimmy Rowles and Oscar Peterson), an image that alludes to a femme-fatale from a 50’s black and white film, and a great sense of humour that she always shares with her audience. She’s a real star.

Cassandra Wilson

"Helper of men": the meaning of the name Cassandra sets the bar high. Her Greek name isn’t the only thing that makes her unique either… the camber of Cassandra Wilson’s voice sets her apart from the get-go. While many of her colleagues strive to follow in the footsteps of legends like Nina Simone, Billie HolidayElla Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan or work to transform their voices into smooth, silky velvet, this Mississippi girl has other ideas. That’s not to say she’s veered away from Jazz’s long history and tradition—quite the opposite. Throughout a career spanning more than 35 years, Cassandra Wilson has taken Blue Note into uncharted territory, daring to branch off into blues, country, soul, gospel, funk and folk... She’s always chosen to work with musicians that don’t strictly adhere to conventional jazz too, such as the saxophonist Steve Coleman (with whom she made her name in the 1980s as part of the M-Base collective) and avant-garde saxophonist Henry Threadgill. This eclecticism is a bit of a façade though, because, ultimately, Cassandra Wilson’s husky, ample voice has always expressed a nonchalance all of its own. Artfully restrained and pure in her approach, she perfectly expresses everything that sets her apart. Whether she’s covering songs by Miles DavisNeil YoungHank WilliamsBob DylanAntonio Carlos JobimJoni MitchellU2Robert JohnsonMonkees, or throwing herself into a timeless jazz classic, she gracefully peels back every musical layer to reveal weightless blues. She wasn’t born in the Mississippi Delta for nothing…

Norah Jones

She may have been born and raised on the Blue Note label, but Norah Jones has never been a conventional jazz artist. Not that that matters. She’s never really been a pop, folk, country or soul singer either… “As Blue Note is classified as jazz, people obviously see me as a jazz singer. The label made my first album sound like personal research into how to sing a song. It wasn’t pure jazz, there was a mixture of several elements, a bit of country and other different things. They were just songs after all…” Since the early 2000s, the singer (and pianist, let’s not forget) has been constantly blurring—even eradicating—stylistic boundaries in favour of her own genreless music, which she loves to share with other musicians from diverse backgrounds. Born in New York and raised in Texas following her mother’s split from the great sitarist Ravi Shankar, the world fell in love with Norah Jones after listening to 'Don’t Know Why', the first track on her debut album. This ballad, written three years earlier by songwriter Jesse Harris, features a dreamy piano and a silky rhythm, and remains her most successful hit. It’s got it all: a unique sound that combines jazz, pop and something that vaguely resembles folk/country music; great lyrics and, most importantly, her beautiful voice that just oozes whimsy, not dissimilar to Carole King… It’s not jazz, it’s not mainstream, it’s not pop... It’s simply Norah Jones.