Music has always been a form of expression. A be-freeing medium through which the oppressed found a way to vent out and voice their rebellion. Here are 10 black women who by assuming their blackness as well as their womanhood showcased a vocal force that could sing about racism, love, being a woman strong or weak.

10. Jennifer Holliday

9. Nancy Wilson

8. Natalie Cole

7. Gladys Knight

6. Etta James

5. Sarah Vaughan

4. Billie Holiday

3. Nina Simone

2. Ella Fitzgerald

1. Aretha Franklin