Where to start. I'm with you on Nat King Cole. Sarah...I've heard too many of her later off pitch recordings to count her a favorite. A surprise singer I like is George Benson. If he had been around during the 1950's, people would have forgotten all about Sinatra (NOT one of my favorites). His Big Boss Band album with Basie's orchestra really showcases him.For me it's the incredible voices of[Nat King Cole- Sarah Vaughan].
I agree about Peyroux- her voice has sometimes some resemblance to Holiday, but I don't think she really owes any more to her than anyone else singing that repertoire (which is to say quite a bit). Billy Holiday has been a persistent seller, though a bit surprised that she's outsold Om Kalsoum. Of course a lot of Billy Holiday records are also Benny Goodman records etc. Kind of an odd list of female singers; if we're going with white girls, though, I'd want to throw in Lee Wiley and Blossom Dearie, at least.You have good taste in girl singers!
Q: Who is the most prolific selling singer of ALL music styles for ALL time? Note: this singer's sales continually rise from year to year, and show no signs in abating.
Hint: This singer never possessed more than 1.5 octaves of usable range. In the middle career, the range reduced about 3 steps. Ny the time of her last good record whe had but a single octave of range.
A: LADY DAY! She is THE only Jazz Artist who will consistently sell to non-Jazz listeners. I like her Brunswick and Vocalion sides best, and frequently play along with them. The Decca sides are the most popular, but Decca had a lot of syrupy and schmaltzy arrangers (like Mitch Miller and Axel Stordahl) —whom I think ruined a LOT of good records!
I pray you are also listening to Ella, Chris Connor, Anita O'Day, June Christy. Mildred Bailey, Pet Clark, Early Peggy Lee, with her husband, Dave Barbour (guitar player), Early Kay Starr, Jessica Molasky with the Pizzarelli Brothers, Ray Kennedy, etc. Madeleine Peyroux is also an important modern singer worthy of patronage. While many people seem to hear a lot of Lady Day in her work, I find her to be a true original and I love her work. Tierney Sutton is faultless, —but that is the problem; her NATURAL INSTRUMENT lacks the unique affectations that I think the finest singers MUST have.
And, DO play with the Billy Holiday sides! It's a great lesson! If you play with the Brunswick and Vocalion sides, you find yourself being taught by Karl Kress, Dick Mcdonough, Freddy Green, Allen Reuss, and more! Generally, the rhythm section was whoever was in town at the town at the time, and the BASIE band was in town a LOT!
Playing with Jo Jones, Freddie Green, Teddy Wilson and Walter Paige as your rhythm section is sublime! I think a couple of sides even have Basie on piano.
Live to play!