16 Soul Divas Who Influenced Beyoncé’s Music

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There are so many reasons to love Beyoncé . She’s gorgeous, talented, and referred to as Queen Bey for a reason. Not only can she sing, dance, and act, but she has done an amazing job of carrying the torch for strong women everywhere.
Bey first made a name for herself as a singer in the girl group Destiny’s Child in 1990. Long before that, though, there were quite a few soul divas who paved the way for powerful female voices in music. No doubt these artists have influenced not only Beyoncé but the entire R&B genre for female and male artists alike. Many of them have passed on, but all of them deserve to be remembered as their music lives on today.
Let’s go back in time and add some old school to our soul diva playlist!

1. Etta James (1938 – 2012)


Etta James is ranked number 22 on Billboard's list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. She started her career as a singer in the 1950s and became well-versed in many different genres, including soul, jazz, and rock and roll. James led a rough life, experiencing drug addiction and incarceration through the years.
Before her death in 2012, she had some choice words about Beyoncé. According to MTV.com, she was not a fan of Bey's cover of “At Last,” which she performed at President Obama‘s inauguration. She later claimed she had been joking. Despite the drama, Beyoncé actually played Etta in the movie Cadillac Records and has covered her iconic songs “At Last” and “I’d Rather Go Blind.” Check out the originals and Beyoncé’s covers — both are worth a listen!