The Most Recorded Women Songwriters

Music by Jerome Kern and lyrics by Dorothy Fields

If you have not been reading my most recents posts this is the fourth consecutive on the topic of Women in Music, and more specifically relating to the world of Cover Songs. Today I have compiled a list of Women whose songs have capture the imagination of enough artists to record, over and over and over again. This list is different than the songs that were originally sung by women, or the list of Singer/Songwriters.

Todays list include all genre and if we look at them it is also different from the list of the most covered performers. As the singer of the songs, most often you are not the author of that song, but sometimes you may be. So, before I get to the list let me explain what I mean by that last statement.

These are the most covered performers of all time

At the top of the list is Judy Garland. She was not a Songwriter but her original song “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” has been recorded by 2015 other artists. “Over the Rainbow” has been recorded by 1541 artists. She has four more songs at over 100 artists as well as another 15 of her songs performed at least once.

Billie Holiday’s original song “Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)” has been recorded by 664 artists and she did not have a hand in writing that one. However a song she co-wrote “God Bless the Child” has 504. These songs and several others place her at #2 on the list. These (in order) are the next names on the list; Ethel Merman, Ethel Waters, Abbie Mitchell, Gertrude Lawrence, Mitzi Green, Emily Laurey, Doris Day and Adele, no not that one-Adele Astaire. The only artists in the top 20 to have written all or a majority of their original songs are, as noted Billie Holiday followed by Édith Piaf at #12, Joni Mitchell at #15 and Peggy Lee at #17. These last three names also appear on The Top 10 Most Recorded Women Singer/Songwriters.

Women Songwriters

Before I get to the list of the most recorded songwriters I think a little history is in order. While I tend not to include music outside the major genre, notable women composers and lyricists predate any of them. I have looked up “Women Composers” and found the top names such as Hildegard von Bingen who lived from 1098 to 1179 and is the first “identifiable” female songwriter. Francesca Caccini (1587-c1641) and Barbara Strozzi (1619-77). The only names I recognized on the list were Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-47), Ruth Crawford Seeger (1901-53) and Amy Beach (1867-1944) as I have referenced them before. Keeping in mind by saying composers these names also often wrote lyrics as well.

A name that is not on the list is Carrie Jacobs-Bond (born August 11, 1862, died December 28, 1946) who I have mentioned in a couple of my past posts. She was a prolific writer and known as quite a good singer, but primarily she is remembered for writing some 175 songs. “I Love You Truly” , “Perfect Day” and “Just Awearyin’ for You” are her most popular songs, she was a tireless worker composing her last song at age 84. In the days before recorded music, she sold over 25 million copies of her manuscript of “I Love You Truly” and reportedly made over one million dollars in royalty payments by 1910 at age 48. Why so much money? She was a very smart person, making sure she copyrighted all her songs in her own name and did not sell her songs to anyone. In the years that followed her initial success, Man or Women, she maintained a much more than usual control over who initially recorded her music as well.

For the past lists I have gone beyond for reference’s, the only problem with that is that there are very few dealing with women songwriters. The only credible source apart from was and this focus on one artist may or may not skew the numbers. I can’t find any comparable empirical data, even for Carole King’s songs. While I have not verified all the numbers from Joni’s site and can say that I have cross referenced many that don’t appear on the database. Today I have chosen to list the names in the order they appear on The numbers for Joni Mitchell are from their database only and therefore places her further down than you would see on my other lists.

Dorothy Fields45797337261
Carole King339418228082
Marilyn Bergman27778921463
Joni Mitchell246512617914
Cynthia Weil155513714525
Taylor Swift 14881804566
Betty Comden 14464713977
Carole Bayer Sager114610110708
Ellie Greenwich1052599799
Dolly Parton105113587110
Carolyn Leigh10513695010
Lil Armstrong9923572911
Billie Holiday98911100712
Diane Warren86819164714
Édith Piaf8171283815
Lady Gaga7897575416
Cindy Walker7786370517
Ann Ronell757690118
Consuelo Velázquez735682119
Linda McCartney7114654020

Some notable names to follow are Mariah Carey 708 covers, Felice Bryant 708 covers, Peggy Lee 695 covers and Katy Perry with 690 covers.

38 thoughts on “The Most Recorded Women Songwriters

  1. Great blog! A lot of numbers to take in there, but it’s interesting to see how they rank. A few random points . First, 25 million copies of sheet music for ‘I Love You Truly’! Wow. What was the population of the US back then – maybe 120 million? I’m sure some of those copies were overseas but still… it’s like, having that sheet music was probably as common as having a toaster in your house back then. Good for the writer in keeping her publishing and copyright on it. I was surprised to see Adele and Taylor Swift on the list, not because of any personal judgment about them but simply because their songs haven’t been around for many years to be covered, unlike some of the others on the list from the WWII era or just after. And third – real detail-oriented question … what about songs that were first sung in MF duets … do they count? I’m thinking of things like ‘I Got You babe’ by sonny and Cher. A Sonny song, or a Cher one?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Dave. I’m assuming those sheet music sales were over a number of years, still it’s quite remarkable. Potentially everything Wii’s piano was a customer for the popular songs of the day and if you were a Parlour singer as well. I think with Adele and Swift it’s just their sheer popularity that drives the covers and the fact that ever other singing contest participant/finalist does their songs. For this post I focus on the song writers only, far ad i know Cher was not a writer. However you presented an interesting blog topic!


  2. That really surprises me about the younger artists on there but like you said…with youtube covers…hell that would be hard to keep up with. That would grow everyday.


      • That’s an excellent point. The entire music business has changed so much!

        Nowadays, as a young music artist, you have to have a multimedia/platform presence if you want to have a shot at breaking through.

        It has always taken a lot of self-confidence and guts to get into music. While in some regards technology has made it possible for up- and coming artists to publish their music without a record label deal, it’s a brutal business.

        To pursue music these days it better be your true calling! I have so much respect for anybody who is trying to make a living with music!

        Liked by 1 person

      • When I was playing in a band in my early ’20s back in Germany, where we did original music, for a short time, I was dreaming about becoming a professional musician. And while I was practicing bass and guitar nearly every day and had reached an okay but far from great level of mastery, I’m glad that dream didn’t go any further! I know I never would have made it. In fact, I’m not even sure I’d still be alive.

        Instead, I’m now living in the land of the free and experiencing the dream aka shoving money every month into the greedy throats of the mortgage company. What could possibly beat that? 🙂


      • I see you sold out to the ‘man’ like the rest of us poor sods! I say good for you for giving it a go back in the day, I bet you had a lot of fun and more than a few stories. My oldest brother is quite the accomplished Bass player but it’s never been his day job. He still plays in bar bands and I love going to hear him play.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s cool, man. Playing music on the side and having a “real” full-time job sounds like the best of both worlds.

        Sometimes, I regret having given up playing music actively. While I have some mostly cheap equipment, it’s been more than 30 years. As such, it would require a significant effort and, frankly, lots of patience from my family to get back into the game.

        At least for the time being, it doesn’t look feasible, but I’m also not giving up on it entirely!


      • Never say never, I have a close friend who since his retirement has taken up his old guitar playing and bought himself a new one and is loving it! He plans on replacing Keith Richards…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Another great post! And you mentioned one of my favorite songs: “God Bless the Child.” One of my favorite covers of that song, which doesn’t apply here since you are looking at women for these posts, is the one done by Blood Sweat and Tears. So much good stuff here, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s