Canada’s music history is rich with incredible songwriters, bands, musicians, and artists. The nation has produced some of the best-selling singers of all time and continues to be at the forefront of pop.
With male singers like Bryan Adams, Neil Young, and the late Leonard Cohen, the Canadian music legacy is cemented. This list of names is matched by the female singers from the country.
In this article, we’ve selected 17 of Canada’s most influential and popular female singers. We’ve included some modern artists and some blasts from the past!
1. Joni Mitchell
Born in 1943, Joni Mitchell is a Canadian music icon. Beginning as a folk rock artist, Mitchell eventually branched out into other styles such as jazz, pop, and electronic later in her career.
Mitchell’s biggest hits include classics like “Big Yellow Taxi” and “Woodstock.” Released in 1971, the album Blue is considered by many to be one of the greatest albums ever recorded.
Renowned for her ability to surprise her fanbase and a lack of fear of trying different things, Joni Mitchell has released a diverse back catalog of material spanning over five decades.
In 1997, Joni Mitchell was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and despite experiencing health problems later in life, she has continued to put out material.
2. Celine Dion
Born in Quebec, Celine Dion is currently the best-selling artist to ever come from Canada. Renowned for her powerful and soulful voice, the singer has released music across rock, pop, and R&B genres.
Dion originally released music in French, but in the 1990s, she rose to worldwide stardom after releasing the album Unison, her first English-language release.
The singer’s long list of hits includes “The Power of Love,” “Think Twice”, and the classic track from the movie Titanic, “My Heart Will Go On. She has won an impressive five grammy awards during her career and has sold over 50 million albums in Europe alone!
3. Shania Twain
Hailed as the “Queen of Country Pop,” Shania Twain is a Canadian vocalist and songwriter who has sold over 100 million records worldwide. She holds the record as the best-selling female country artist in history.
With classic hits like “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” and “You’re Still the One” under her belt, Twain amassed a huge fanbase throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s.
After a six-year break from music due to illness, Shania Twain returned in 2011 with a new single. She then released her first studio album in over 15 years in 2017, entitled Now, and embarked on a world tour to support it.
Twain has won five grammy awards, matching fellow Canadian Celine Dion’s impressive achievement.
4. Avril Lavigne
When she signed her first record deal, Avril Lavigne was just 16 years old. Before turning 20, she released the album Let Go, which ranks as the number one selling album by any Canadian artist in the 21st century.
The speed of Lavigne’s rise to fame was almost unbelievable, and she soon became a key figure in the pop-punk genre that dominated charts in the early 2000s. Hits like “Sk8er Boi” and “Complicated” topped charts worldwide.
In addition to a highly successful music career spanning two decades, Lavigne has starred in multiple TV shows and movies.
Avril Lavigne was born in Ontario and has French citizenship due to her father being born there.
5. Alanis Morissette
Alanis Morisette rose to stardom in the 1990s, with her third album, Jagged Little Pill, selling over 30 million copies worldwide. The singer-songwriter has experimented with various styles of rock and electronic music.
Born in Ottawa, Morisette has released ten studio albums, appeared in many movies and TV shows, and won a total of seven Grammy Awards. She has also promoted awareness for many causes, including sufferers of eating disorders.
6. Sarah McLachlan
With over 40 million album sales since her career began in 1987, Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah Mclachlan has enjoyed a long and decorated career in the music industry.
In 1998, McLachlan won two Grammy Awards for her fourth studio album, Surfacing, which is her best-selling LP to date. She released a greatest hits complication album in 2008, and her song “One Dream” was used as the official theme song for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.
In addition to her music, Sarah Mclachlan has also written songs for the likes of Delerium and provided backing vocals for Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks.
7. Anne Murray
Canadian vocalist Anne Murray began her career in 1967 and released an impressive 32 studio albums until she retired in 2008. The singer sold over 55 million albums and was one of the first Canadian female singers to achieve international success.
Murray has won four Grammy Awards and twenty-four Junos – the most of any artist. She worked with some of the most notable record labels throughout her career, including Capitol, EMI, and Liberty.
8. Nelly Furtado
Canadian-Portuguese singer-songwriter Nelly Furtado is one of the best-selling female artists of the 21st century. Beginning her career in 1996, she has worked with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake.
In 2000, the Canadian singer released her debut album, Whoa, Nelly!, which spawned the hit singles “I’m Like a Bird” and “Turn Off the Light”. The album received widespread critical acclaim.
Furtado released her second album, Folklore, in 2003. This album blended folk with elements of pop and R&B, and although it wasn’t as commercially successful as her debut, it showcased Furtado’s artistry and vocal skills.
After hooking up with producer Timbaland for her third album, Loose, Furtado was cemented as a worldwide star. Single like “Promiscuous,” “Maneater,” and “Say It Right” sold millions of copies.
Furtado continues to release music and recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of her debut album with a limited edition release.
9. Jessie Reyez
After releasing her debut EP, Kiddo, in 2017, Canadian R&B singer Jessie Reyez made waves in the national music scene. The EP would later be nominated for four Juno Awards in 2018.
After releasing another EP in 2019, which was nominated for a Grammy and made the shortlist for the Polaris Awards, Reyez grew her fanbase considerably when she collaborated with rap legend Eminem on two tracks from his album, Kamikaze.
Reyez then released her debut solo album in 2020, Before Love Came to Kill Us. The album reached #13 on the US Billboard 200, and again Reyez was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize for the second year running.
The future looks bright for this talented Canadian artist.
Some people may know Grimes as the mother of Tesla founder Elon Musk’s children. Still, long before the Canadian artist met the billionaire, she had built up a unique and successful back catalog of original music.
Renowned for her experimental and ever-changing style, Grimes has released five studio albums as of 2022. Her career began in 2007, and she has self-produced and written most of the music she has released.
Grimes is also known for her ambitious visual art, showcased in many of her music videos. She also often creates characters and worlds within her albums. Although she has enjoyed some chart success, Grimes has somewhat of a cult following rather than being considered a pop artist.
11. Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen is best known for her 2012 worldwide hit “Call Me Maybe,” which was the best-selling song of that year. The single reached number one in eighteen countries, propelling Jepsen to worldwide stardom.
In the years that followed, the Candian singer-songwriter has continued to enjoy success, releasing multiple alums and signing to Interscope Records. Her 2022 album, The Loneliest Time, was her seventh studio album since her career began in 2008.
12. Lara Fabian
With over 20 million records sold worldwide, Lara Fabian is another hugely successful female singer from Canada. Born in Belgium, Fabian moved to Quebec when she was 21 and has since become a Canadian citizen.
Fabian’s music is sung in French and stylistically blends pop, rock, and dance. After moving to Canada in 1991, she released her self-titled debut album, which was a hit amongst the French-speaking Canadian people.
In 1996, Lara Fabian was cast by Walt Disney Studios as the voice of Esmerelda in the French edition of the hit animation film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, with her music also featured in the film.
13. K.D Lang
Country and pop icon K.D Lang is one of the most popular female singers that Canada has ever produced. She began her career in 1981 and has gone on to release seven solo albums.
K.D Lang is often credited alongside Joni Mitchell as one of the Canadian female singers that paved the way for future generations. She was chosen by pop legend Roy Orbison to duet with him for the song “Crying,” which won them a Grammy in 1989.
Lang achieved widespread mainstream success throughout the 1990s. She strayed away from her signature country style with the album Ingenue in 1992, which included “Constant Craving,” her best-selling hit.
Since 2008, Lang has released several collaboration albums rather than focusing on solo projects. In 2019, she stated that she was “semi-retired.”
14. Alannah Myles
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Alannah Byles achieved a number one hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1990 with her song, “Black Velvet.” Born in Toronto, Myles began her career playing solo gigs in bars around Ontario.
With help from songwriter Christopher Ward, Myles formed a band to perform her material along with covers of popular rock songs. She eventually signed with Atlantic Records and release her self-titled debut album in 1987.
In the following years, Alannah Myles sold millions of albums and singles worldwide. Her self-titled debut is her most successful album to date, reaching number 1 on the Canadian album charts and proving to be a huge success throughout Europe.
In 2014, the Canadian singer released 85 BPM for her 25th career anniversary.
Tamia is a Canadian artist who got her first break in the music industry when iconic producer Quincy Jones asked her to appear on his 1995 album, Q’s Jook Joint. Three years later, Tamia released her debut album through Elektra, followed by two further albums in the early 2000s.
Tamia has released seven albums as of 2022 and has performed many headline tours around the US and Europe.
16. Emmalyn Estrada
Canadian singer-songwriter Emmalyn emerged as one of the most promising female artists the country has produced in the 21st century. Her debut single, “Get Down,” put her on the map in 2009.
Since then, Emmalyn Estrada has released ten solo albums and has reunited with her original band, G.R.L, who enjoyed some commercial success in the early 2000s. She has also enjoyed a fairly successful acting career.
17. Alessia Cara
Although Alessia Cara hasn’t had the same length of a career as most of the Canadian female singers included on this list, she has enjoyed some impressive success since bursting onto the scene in 2014.
After signing to Def Jam in 2014, Cara released her debut album a year later. The single “Here” put her on the map eventually reaching number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US.
Clara has been nominated for four Grammy awards and has won the Juno Award for Songwriter of the Year. She has released two more albums since her debut, 2018’s The Pains of Growing and 2021’s In the Meantime.