79. Mariah Carey
March 27th, 1970
Key Tracks "One Sweet Day," "Vision of Love," "Fantasy"
Influenced Brandy, Christina Aguilera, Leona Lewis
"When I was little," Mariah Carey says, "I used to wake up with a really raspy voice and" — she shifts to her signature squeak — "talk in a really high voice. My mother couldn't understand it, and she's an opera singer. But then I started to try to sing using that voice." Carey is famous for her staggering vocal range — including those ravishing high notes — and power. Her mastery of melisma, the fluttering strings of notes that decorate songs like "Vision of Love," inspired the entire American Idol vocal school, for better or worse, and virtually every other female R&B singer since the Nineties. But technical skill alone doesn't make for hits, and Carey's radiant, sweetly sexy presence has been knocking them out of the park for two decades. She's scored more Number One singles than any solo artist — 18 and counting.