Top 10 Female Reggae Artists Who Made History

Reggae music fans often yearn to know the legends behind those soulful tunes that become life anthems. Did you know Marcia Griffiths has been making hits for over fifty years? This blog celebrates ten women who’ve carved their names in reggae history, each with a story as rhythmic as their beats.

Dive into the melodies and milestones of these queens of reggae—let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Female reggae artists like Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt, and Rita Marley have broken barriers in a male-dominated genre, setting milestones for international success and recognition.
  • Artists such as Tanya Stephens, Queen Ifrica, and Sister Nancy use their music to address social issues, championing causes like women’s rights and empowerment through their lyrics.
  • Lady Saw made history by being the first female deejay to win a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 2002.
  • The influence of these iconic reggae singers extends beyond the genre itself—inspiring future generations of musicians across various musical styles including hip-hop, pop, and R&B.
  • Through powerful performances and thought – provoking messages conveyed in songs like “Bam Bam,” female reggae artists continue to inspire social change and raise awareness on important global issues.

10 Iconic Female Reggae Singers of All Time

From Judy Mowatt to Lila Iké, these female reggae singers have left an indelible mark on the music industry with their powerful voices and impactful lyrics. Each artist brings her own unique style and influence, making them essential figures in the world of reggae music.

Judy Mowatt

Judy Mowatt stands out as a powerhouse in the reggae music scene. Her soulful voice carries weight and emotion, capturing listeners with every note. This remarkable talent has earned her a special place among reggae queens, making her not just iconic but genuinely influential.

As one of the select females in reggae to gain widespread recognition, Judy Mowatt’s songs resonate with themes of love, empowerment, and spirituality.

Breaking through gender barriers wasn’t easy, yet Judy did it with grace and unwavering dedication to her art. Her work alongside Bob Marley as part of the I-Threes paved the way for female backup singers dreaming about solo careers.

Through her music and impact on Jamaican culture, she inspires women around the world to strive for success in their chosen fields.

Tanya Stephens

Tanya Stephens, an iconic figure in Jamaican music, has made significant contributions to reggae, dancehall, and pop. With her powerful voice and thought-provoking lyrics, she has left an indelible mark on the music industry.

Tanya is known for her ability to address social and political issues through her music, using her platform to bring awareness to important causes. Her influence extends beyond the reggae genre, as she has successfully blended elements of different musical styles into her work, creating a unique and diverse sound that resonates with audiences worldwide.

Tanya’s trailblazing accomplishments have paved the way for future female artists in the industry and continue to inspire women in music.

Marcia Griffiths

Marcia Griffiths, a Jamaican reggae singer, has had an illustrious career spanning over five decades. She is not only a successful reggae artist but also a consistent hit-maker on the international stage.

Her impactful contributions have solidified her position as one of Jamaica’s most influential female reggae artists. With her soulful voice and captivating performances, Griffiths continues to inspire future generations of female empowerment in music.

Furthermore, Marcia Griffiths’ trailblazing accomplishments have significantly influenced the genre, making her an iconic figure in Jamaican music history. As a part of the I-Threes, Bob Marley’s backing vocalists alongside Judy Mowatt and Rita Marley, she made groundbreaking strides for women in reggae.

Lady Saw

Lady Saw, also known as Marion Hall, is a trailblazing Jamaican reggae and dancehall artist. She made history by being the first female deejay to win a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 2002.

With her bold and unapologetic lyrics, she has pushed boundaries and challenged gender norms within the male-dominated reggae and dancehall music scene. Lady Saw’s impact on the industry continues to inspire future generations of female reggae artists, cementing her legacy as a fearless pioneer in Jamaican music.

As an advocate for women’s empowerment, Lady Saw’s influential contributions have demonstrated the significant role that female reggae performers play in shaping the genre and addressing social issues through their music.

Rita Marley

Rita Marley, also known as the Queen of Reggae, achieved a historic milestone with the first reggae song to top the Billboard disco charts. She played an instrumental role in popularizing reggae music on an international scale, leaving an indelible mark on the genre.

With her powerful and soulful voice, Rita Marley continues to be a revered figure in Jamaican music history.

Sister Nancy

Sister Nancy, a prominent figure in reggae music, gained widespread acclaim with her timeless hit single “Bam Bam.” Her captivating sound and impactful lyrics have solidified her position as one of the iconic female reggae artists.

With her distinct style and energetic stage presence, Sister Nancy has left an indelible mark on the music industry. She continues to inspire future generations of musicians and fans alike with her trailblazing accomplishments and unwavering dedication to the genre.

Sister Nancy’s groundbreaking contributions to reggae music have resonated globally, cementing her status as a female reggae legend. Her influence extends beyond musical boundaries, making her an enduring symbol of empowerment for women in Jamaican music.

Phyllis Dillon

Phyllis Dillon, a Jamaican reggae singer, is remembered for her soulful and captivating voice that left an indelible mark on the genre. Known as one of the first female artists to gain recognition in the male-dominated reggae scene during the 1960s and 1970s, Dillon’s hits like “Don’t Stay Away” and “Perfidia” continue to resonate with fans worldwide.

Her smooth vocals and emotionally resonant performances have solidified her place as an iconic figure in reggae music history, inspiring generations of female reggae artists to follow in her footsteps.

Dillon’s influence extends beyond her vocal talent; she contributed significantly to shaping the future of female singers within reggae, paving the way for others to break through barriers in a genre traditionally dominated by male voices.

Queen Ifrica

Queen Ifrica has used her music to address social and political issues, making significant contributions to the reggae genre. Her soulful voice and powerful lyrics have resonated with audiences worldwide, shining a light on important societal matters.

Known for her advocacy for women’s rights and empowerment, Queen Ifrica has become an influential figure in reggae music, inspiring listeners with her thought-provoking messages. Through her trailblazing accomplishments, she has left a lasting impact on the music industry and continues to be celebrated as one of the iconic female reggae stars who have made history.

Her candid approach to addressing real-life issues through music has earned Queen Ifrica a well-deserved place among reggae legends. With her empowering presence and meaningful lyrics, she exemplifies the essence of female musicians who push boundaries while making their mark on the world stage.

Lila Iké

Lila Iké, an emerging force in the reggae music scene, has been making waves with her soulful vocals and captivating stage presence. Her unique blend of reggae and R&B influences has garnered attention from fans worldwide.

With thought-provoking lyrics and a powerful voice, Lila Iké is paving the way for a new generation of female reggae artists. Her breakout single “Second Chance” quickly became an anthem for resilience and empowerment, solidifying her as a rising star in the industry.

Lila Iké’s contributions to reggae music showcase the continued evolution of the genre and its relevance in addressing contemporary social issues.


Etana, known for her soulful voice and unique blend of reggae with elements of R&B and soul music, has made a significant impact on the music industry. Her empowering lyrics and captivating melodies have resonated with audiences around the world, cementing her status as one of the top female reggae artists.

Etana’s trailblazing accomplishments include using her platform to address social and political issues through her music, making her a role model for future generations of musicians.

With her distinctive style and thought-provoking artistry, Etana continues to inspire and influence not only reggae enthusiasts but also fans of other genres.

Female Reggae Artists Who Made History

These women have left an indelible mark on the music industry, breaking barriers and making significant contributions to reggae and beyond. Read on to learn more about their impactful legacy.

Their impact on the music industry

Female reggae artists have had a profound impact on the music industry, shaping the genre with their unique vocal styles and powerful lyrics. Their presence has broken barriers and paved the way for future generations of female musicians.

These iconic reggae singers have not only contributed to the cultural significance of Jamaican music but also influenced other genres around the world. Their trailblazing accomplishments continue to inspire aspiring artists globally, showcasing how women’s contributions have been integral in shaping reggae into what it is today.

The influence of these legendary female reggae icons extends beyond just music, as they’ve used their platforms to address social and political issues through their songs. From advocating for equality and justice to bringing attention to environmental concerns, these vocalists have proven that music can be a catalyst for change.

Trailblazing accomplishments

Marcia Griffiths stands out as a trailblazer with her groundbreaking achievements, having been the first female reggae artist to receive international acclaim and success. Her timeless hit songs have left an indelible mark on the music industry, making her a pivotal figure in shaping the reggae genre.

Rita Marley’s historic feat of topping the Billboard disco charts with a reggae song has solidified her status as a pioneer in breaking barriers for female reggae artists. Tanya Stephens’ boundary-breaking contributions to not only reggae but also dancehall and pop music showcase her innovative approach and influence, inspiring future generations of musicians.

Queen Ifrica’s fearless use of her platform to address social and political issues through her music cements her place among the trailblazing female reggae artists who have transcended mere entertainment to make meaningful impacts on society.

Sister Nancy’s classic single “Bam Bam” continues to resonate across generations, earning its place as an iconic anthem in reggae history while reinforcing Sister Nancy’s pioneering role as a leading figure in the genre.

Breakthroughs and barriers

Marcia Griffiths, along with other female reggae artists, shattered barriers and made significant breakthroughs in the music industry. Their impact on the genre cannot be overstated.

Tanya Stephens, for example, broke through traditional gender norms in reggae and dancehall music. Similarly, Queen Ifrica used her platform to address social and political issues within her songs, breaking barriers by using her music for activism.

Female reggae artists such as Judy Mowatt and Rita Marley also achieved groundbreaking milestones – from topping charts to influencing future generations of musicians across different genres.

Legacy of Female Reggae Artists

The legacy of female reggae artists extends beyond their music, inspiring future generations and influencing other genres. Their contribution to social and political issues has also left a lasting impact on the industry as a whole.

Inspiration for future generations

The pioneering work of female reggae artists has opened doors and broken barriers for future generations of musicians. Their fearlessness, creativity, and unapologetic expression serve as an inspiration for aspiring artists around the world.

From addressing social and political issues to creating timeless music, these iconic figures have left a profound impact on the genre and continue to influence budding talents in the industry.

Their trailblazing accomplishments and enduring legacy showcase the power of music to transcend boundaries and spark change. The influence of these female reggae legends extends beyond their musical contributions, serving as a testament to resilience, determination, and unwavering passion.

Influence on other genres

Female reggae artists have not only made a significant impact on the reggae genre but have also influenced other musical styles. Their unique blend of soulful vocals, powerful lyrics, and infectious rhythms has inspired musicians across various genres, from hip-hop to pop and R&B.

Iconic figures like Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt have paved the way for future female artists in the industry, leaving an indelible mark on music history.

Their trailblazing accomplishments and breakthroughs have transcended beyond reggae, inspiring and influencing artists in different genres. Rita Marley’s historic success with her reggae hit topping the Billboard disco charts opened doors for reggae to be recognized at an international level, showcasing the far-reaching influence of female reggae musicians.

Contribution to social and political issues

Reggae music has historically served as a platform for addressing social and political issues, and female reggae artists have been at the forefront of this movement. Queen Ifrica, for example, is known for using her music to tackle societal challenges and advocate for change.

Her thought-provoking lyrics shed light on various pressing issues, inspiring audiences to reflect on important social matters.

Additionally, Sister Nancy’s timeless hit “Bam Bam” not only became a classic in reggae music but also carried underlying messages relevant to social issues. The song’s powerful influence continues to resonate with listeners today, making it an enduring anthem that highlights the impact of female reggae artists on social consciousness through their music.


In conclusion, the legacy of these iconic female reggae artists spans far beyond their music. Their influential contributions have left an indelible mark on the music industry and society at large.

Through their trailblazing accomplishments, they have inspired future generations and made a profound impact that extends to other genres. Their resilience, creativity, and powerful voices have solidified their place as true pioneers in the world of music.


1. Who are some of the top female reggae artists who made history?

Some of the most iconic female reggae artists include Jamaican singers who have become trailblazers in the genre, inspiring fans worldwide with their powerful music.

2. What makes these Jamaican female singers stand out?

These Jamaican female singers standout for their unique voices, compelling stories told through music, and their ability to break barriers in a genre traditionally dominated by men.

3. Can you name a few famous Jamaican reggae singers?

Yes! The list of famous Jamaican reggae singers includes women who have achieved international acclaim and left an indelible mark on the world of music.

4. Why should we celebrate female reggae trailblazers?

Celebrating female reggae trailblazers is important because they have overcome many challenges to share their art and shape the future of this vibrant musical style.