Another word for a singer is a vocalist. A large band might include a dozen musicians, a lead vocalist, and a couple of backup vocalists to harmonize.

In jazz, it's particularly common to refer to singers as vocalists — it's a way to emphasize that they are musicians, just like the saxophonist and drummer, only a vocalist's instrument is her voice. A guest vocalist might appear on your favorite band's new album, or a band might hire backing vocalists when they perform live. In the early 17th century, this word meant "speaker." It wasn't until the 19th century that the meaning changed to "singer."

Definitions of vocalist
  1. noun
    a person who sings
    synonyms: singer, vocaliser, vocalizer
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    Pearl Mae Bailey
    United States singer (1918-1990)
    Johnny Cash
    United States country music singer and songwriter (1932-2003)
    Maurice Chevalier
    French actor and cabaret singer (1888-1972)
    Maria Magdalene von Losch
    United States film actress (born in Germany) who made many films with Josef von Sternberg and later was a successful cabaret star (1901-1992)
    Bob Dylan
    United States songwriter noted for his protest songs (born in 1941)
    Ella Fitzgerald
    United States scat singer (1917-1996)
    Judy Garland
    United States singer and film actress (1922-1969)
    Lena Calhoun Horne
    United States singer and actress (born in 1917)
    Julio Iglesias
    Spanish singer noted for his ballads and love songs (born in 1943)
    Mahalia Jackson
    United States singer who did much to popularize gospel music (1911-1972)
    Michael Joe Jackson
    United States singer who began singing with his four brothers and later became a highly successful star during the 1980s (born in 1958)
    Asa Yoelson
    United States singer (born in Russia) who appeared in the first full-length talking film (1886-1950)
    Janis Joplin
    United States singer who died of a drug overdose at the height of her popularity (1943-1970)
    Riley B King
    United States guitar player and singer of the blues (born in 1925)
    Sir Harry MacLennan Lauder
    Scottish ballad singer and music hall comedian (1870-1950)
    Huddie Leadbetter
    United States folk singer and composer (1885-1949)
    Madonna Louise Ciccone
    United States pop singer and sex symbol during the 1980s (born in 1958)
    Robert Nesta Marley
    Jamaican singer who popularized reggae (1945-1981)
    Dino Paul Crocetti
    United States singer (1917-1995)
    Ethel Merman
    United States singer who appeared in several musical comedies (1909-1984)
    Roy Orbison
    United States composer and rockabilly tenor popular in the 1950s (1936-1988)
    Edith Giovanna Gassion
    French cabaret singer (1915-1963)
    Paul Bustill Robeson
    United States bass singer and an outspoken critic of racism and proponent of socialism (1898-1976)
    Lillian Russell
    United States entertainer remembered for her roles in comic operas (1861-1922)
    Paul Simon
    United States singer and songwriter (born in 1942)
    Bessie Smith
    United States blues singer (1894-1937)
    Kathryn Elizabeth Smith
    United States singer noted for her rendition of patriotic songs (1909-1986)
    Barbra Joan Streisand
    United States singer and actress (born in 1942)
    Sarah Vaughan
    United States jazz singer noted for her complex bebop phrasing and scat singing (1924-1990)
    Ethel Waters
    United States actress and singer (1896-1977)
    Hiram King Williams
    United States country singer and songwriter (1923-1953)
    Tammy Wynetter Pugh
    United States country singer (1942-1998)
    show 30 types...
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    a singer whose voice lies in the alto clef
    baritone, barytone
    a male singer
    bass, basso
    an adult male singer with the lowest voice
    a female singer
    caroler, caroller
    a singer of carols
    a male singer who was castrated before puberty and retains a soprano or alto voice
    a singer in a choir
    a woman singer having a contralto voice
    balladeer, crooner
    a singer of popular ballads
    folk singer, jongleur, minstrel, poet-singer, troubadour
    a singer of folk songs
    a singer who produces a tune without opening the lips or forming words
    lieder singer
    a singer of lieder
    a singer of madrigals
    opera star, operatic star
    singer of lead role in an opera
    someone who performs rap music
    rock star
    a famous singer of rock music
    a person who sings
    a female singer
    an adult male with a tenor voice
    a woman who sings popular songs
    torch singer
    a singer (usually a woman) who specializes in singing torch songs
    (metonymy) a singer
    a singer; usually a singer who adds embellishments to the song
    a singer who changes register rapidly (popular is Swiss folk songs)
    a boy who sings in a choir
    coloratura, coloratura soprano
    a lyric soprano who specializes in coloratura vocal music
    a male singer with a voice above that of a tenor
    mezzo, mezzo-soprano
    a soprano with a voice between soprano and contralto
    diva, prima donna
    a distinguished female operatic singer; a female operatic star
    a woman songster (especially of popular songs)
    type of:
    instrumentalist, musician, player
    someone who plays a musical instrument (as a profession)
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