- I mean greatest not in a necessarily technical sense, but in the fact they sound original and unabashedly "American":
1. Karen Carpenter
2. Cass Elliot
3. Stevie Nicks
4. Carole King
5. Donna Summer
6. Lesley Gore
7. Martha Reeves
8. Judy Garland
9. Gladys Knight
- No one can touch Streisand.
- Not in any particular order
- Adding Aguilera to that list is crazy.
- Adding Dusty Springfield is ignorant.
- Why ladies only? Silly homo.
- Timi Yuro
- These lists sound FAT.
Well, except for Karen.
- No American male singers made the cut?
- Barbra Streisand
- Nancy Wilson, Heart's guitarist? Her sister and Heart's vocalist, Ann Wilson, is a much better singer.
- Why women only? If you were going to make it gender specific, it should have been part of the title.
- Cher, baby!
1) Ella Fitgerald
2) Barbra Streisand
3) Aretha Franklin
4) Chaka Khan
5) Dusty Springfield
6) Melissa Manchester
7) Roberta Flack
8) Dionne Warwick
9) Joni Mitchell
10) Tina Turner
- Dusty was not American!
- R12, no, Nancy Wilson, the jazz singer.
- [italic][bold]DORIS DAY...!!!!!![/bold][/italic]
- Gay men that worship female celebrities are strange and should be avoided.
- I have to say, I saw Ann Wilson perform live last week. She is 61 years old, but man, she still sings all of her songs in the original keys! Most singers, as they age, they have to move their songs to lower keys. This is true of Barbra Streisand.
So, because of that, I have to say that Ann Wilson is the better singer and has the better voice.
- I don't see Janis on that list!
- Where's Etta James?
- What a bunch of rubes. Have you never heard of Jessye Norman? Leontyne Price?
- r20, Ann Wilson of Heart sounds like shit these days, and most certainly does not sing her songs like she used to. You're delusional.
- Maria Callas -- born in America
- Sarah Vaughan
Billie Holiday (esp. between 1952 & 1958)
Nat King Cole
Hank Williams, Sr.
Joni Mitchell (esp. between 1982 & 1994)
Stevie Nicks (esp. between 1979 & 1982, and 1994 & 1998)
- Streisand? Please. You can't touch Ella.
- This thread is useless without Barbara Cook.
- R23 How 'bout Beverly "Bubbles" Sills?
- Very pleased OP mentioned Kate Smith. She's kind of a corny joke now with her enormous size and "God Bless America", but she had a truly gorgeous voice.
- Kathleen Battle
- Jack Jones
- Anita O'Day
- Karen Carpenter, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holliday, Stevie Nicks, Linda Ronstadt.
Willie Nelson (his voice is pure Americana)
Thank you to whoever mentioned Callas and Sills.
I would add Nat King Cole and Tina Turner.
Not as great a singer as someone like Peggy Lee but fot the sheer voice - Eydie Gorme.
Judy tops everyone for me and even Frank thought so.
- Mariah Carey. Love or hate her and what she does, her influence on American pop music starting in the mid-90s is undeniable. For better or worse, she set off the melisma craze (inspiring a noticeable difference in even Whitney Houston's singing style) as well as the rapper + female singer wave that was prevalent in the late 90s and throughout the 00's. Her impact is undeniable and I think her personality/image often overshadows her achievements.
- FYI Joni Mitchell is Canadian.
Totally agree with the poster who suggested Marilyn McCoo!
- Canada is in America - North America.
- [quote]Canada is in America - North America.
Oh, now you guys remember that Canada is in America.
- I'm the one who inserted Dusty Springfield and Joni Mitchell. Sorry about forgetting this is only for Americans.
At the same time, I don't take this seriously. Neither does OP, who mentioned Christing Uglierra.
- Agree with you, r38, but didn't have the courage to post it. I used to love her and sometimes when I go back to her early stuff, I realize that I would still be interested in her music if she still had that voice. She could have sung the phone book and made it sound mesmerizing at one point.
- Shirley Bassey
This is my life
- Marilyn Horne
- Ms. Clay Aiken
[italic]Strange[/italic] is in the eye of the beholder.
A number of people believe that Pretend Straights -- very much including yourself -- who use opposite-sex partners to shield themselves from revealing sexual identity are inauthentic and discredited fools.
You really shouldn't be trolling gay websites, and telling those who are real with themselves just what is odd and what is normal.
- More Shirley!
- "1. Barbra Streisand."
I feel like a faggot!
- Beverly Sills
Really, opera singers are better than all the ones mentioned so far (except Callas)
- Shirley Bassey is Welsh.
I can't believe that not one, but two posters mentioned Marilyn McCoo. Maybe not the top ten but I love her voice.
- lord, one has to really be reaching and stretching to come up with Marilyn McCoo as one of the greatest american voices of all time.
- I stated Marilyn McCoo because she is an authentically "American" sounding singer. Listen to "One Less Bell to Answer" and tell me she isn't great. I dare ya, Blanche!
- That's a pretty good list, OP.
- The OP's list is excellent except for Dolly Parton. A distinctive voice, for sure, but "great?" Sorry, no.
I was about to post the same-- it's a solid list from the OP.
I don't know if I would have the exact same list, but my top 10 would include at least half of those, and all of them are reasonable entries for a top 10 list.
- Pia Zadora and Lola Falana
- Some of you are very, very strange and weird.
- Where is Kathryn Grayson in all this?
- Dude, OP, you've GOT to be kidding with that list. And all the rest of you. Have you forgotten Mahalia Jackson, for starters? And Streisand as #1? Puh-lease. My list goes:
Aretha - Mahalia Jackson - Billie Holiday
All of them more or less in first place.
And NOT the tragic-end-of-her-life stereotypical vision of a drug-addled dying voiceless Billie Holiday of 1957, no no no, but twenty years earlier, the WONDERFUL, vibrant, warm, charming, witty, genius that is Billie Holiday long before the dope fucked her up so bad - particularly the great recordings with Lester Young, who is her equal in artistry: "All of Me," "This Year's Kisses," "Laughing at Life," "I Must Have That Man," "I Can't Get Started with You," "He's Funny That Way," great, great recordings.
Mahalia Jackson has one of the greatest voices of all time.
Aretha: We fall to our knees and cry holy.
And I'd put Doris Day on my list, just because of two recordings: "Secret Love" and "April in Paris." I wouldn't say she has a great voice, but she is a wonderful singer, and she understood the mike and the recording studio as well as Sinatra did.
Joni Mitchell is another favorite voice.
And then some more gospel singers: Clara Ward, Marion Williams, Jessie Mae Renfro singing "I Must Tell Jesus!"
There's clearly something wrong with me, but I never got Sarah Vaughn. And while I am prepared to admit Ella Fitzgerald into the pantheon, particularly because of the recordings she did with Ellis Larkins on piano, I confess that I have never loved her as passionately as all the others I've mentioned.
And now I will discredit myself in your eyes, but fuck you, here it is:
I think Elaine Stritch is/has become one of the great interpreters of the American songbook.
- Dolly Parton
Anne Murray (yes American)
- Allison Krauss
- According to whom? A bunch of elitist "experts" deciding for the rest of us who has the "greatest American voice?" It's all subjective, folks. Everyone will have their favorites and I've only seen a couple here that I agree with. Joan Jett??? What range she has!!! Not. A perfect example that some peoples tastes are only in their mouths.
- so r63, you're mad at "elitists" who like Joan Jett?
You claim that others don't appreciate how subjective the criteria is, then you suggest that one of YOUR subjective ideas, "range," should disqualify someone else's view.
- What about me? What about me?
- I'm pleased to see three mentions of Dionne Warwick.
Dionne is one of the very few American singers to have been working steadily for 50 years, and has sung such a variety of genres: pop, gospel, soul, blues, jazz, Broadway, R&B, Wall of Sound, classic rock, French classical, and of course Brazilian samba and bossa nova. No other diva mentioned on this thread has touched as many genres.
She will always be first and foremost on my list.
- Leslie Gore?
How about Britney Spears then?
(Agree Lezzy Leslie's couple hits were much more fun than any of Bitchney's attempts.)
- Johnny Cash
- Edie Gorme
- Connie Francis
- Beverly Sills.
Other opera singers.
- Roberta Flack
- Nina Simone. Period.
- Yma Sumac
- Mahalia Jackson.
- Stacey Q? bitch please
- I adore Dolly, but she does not possess a terrific voice. Unique, yes, but not amazing. Ronstadt should be on the list instead.
- Dolly will tell you herself that her talents are writing and putting on a show. Doesn't mean she doesn't have a wonderful voice.
No men? Really?
- Walter Cronkite
James Earl Jones
John F. Kennedy
Martin Luther King, Jr.
- 1. Ella Fitzgerald
2. Aretha Franklin
3. Whitney Houston
4. Billie Holiday
5. Barbra Streisand
6. Dionne Warwick
7. Nina Simone
8. Judy Garland
9. Gladys Knight
10. Karen Carpenter
- Joe Williams
- What R28 said. I'd slip Rosemary Clooney in there too.
- Peggy Lee should be on the list and perhaps Joan Baez. Agree with a previous post about Kate Smith's glorious voice. But, Ella is #1 for me.
- I can't believe that no one else but me has mentioned Mahalia Jackson.
And here is the first mention of Bessie Smith.
You all have a pretty narrow range of what you'll listen to.
- There are many who are on the lists who could be placed in front of an orchestra/band and it would be great music. Turn off the electricity and which ones could be heard?
The opera ladies, of course. Many from Broadway, too.
Peggy Lee is an example of someone who needed a microphone at all times. Many of the modern singers need autotune. Some who are popular with today's teens can't carry a tune in a bucket. Tayor Swift fits that.
- Maria Callas
- and I almost forgot:
- plus one more: Leontyne!
- [R24] Certainly Ann Wilson sounds OLDER, her voice doesn't sound as young as smooth as it did back in the day, but she stayed in the same keys as her recordings.
Nancy, on the other hand, when she sang "These Dreams", she sang that in a lower key.
They were opening up for Def Leppard. Joe Elliott sang most of his songs in a lower key.
But Ann sang in the original key, so good for her.
- LOL R76.
I liked Julie London, a low, seductive voice.
Carmen McCrae was great.
Another vote for Peggy Lee, Teena Marie, Minnie Ripperton and Nina Simone.
- If beinge able to be heard without a microphone is the standard, Broadway's Ethel Merman and Mary Martin are #1 and #2, excluding opera singers.
- Here's what Ella Fitzgerald said of Karen Carpenter - " Karen's voice is like an angel among us. I've never heard a voice that's always crystal-clear with constant perfect pitch like this young lady. Her voice is heaven-like."
- Keeley Smith
- I am a big Judy Garland fan so I have to go with Judy as #1.yes Barbra has an amazing voice but Judy was before her.everyone admired judy.her voice from the tender age of 2 was a spectacular mature voice.her voice brings tears to people's eyes.her singing was so beautiful and great that it even brings tears to my eyes!
R.I.P Judy Garland(1922-1969)
- WYNONNA JUDD
- Karen Carpenter had a pure voice and so she is up there on the list of "The Greatest American Voices of All Time."
Here she is doing a duet with Ella. The picture quality is bad, but all you have to do is listen to it really.
- GLORIA ESTEFAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Great is a voice you can recognize and know who is singing. Can anyone tell Brittany or Rhianna or that Lovato chick is singing without being told? No.
- The one and only.
- R97 made a funny.
I agree with your list. We do have to include country though--Loretta lynn?
- Florence Foster Jenkins
- [quote] We do have to include country though--Loretta lynn?
Can't quite say that we do.
- Sorry. Any list that does not include SARAH VAUGHN and SHIRLEY "Here's To Life" HORN cannot be taken seriously.
- R104, I love Shirley Horn as well!
Missed seeing her in oakland, she passed the following year.
The thing is, most people have never heard of her, and she wasn't that influential.
Sarah Vaughn, I believe to be the greatest American voice of all, follwed by Karen Carpenter, then Babs, then Nina Simmone.
thank God for black people
- And Karen Carpenter was so white, she was almost black.
- True 105 - many don't know her but everyone on this thread should go buy her Here's To Life CD . You probably have to order it, sadly, because she has been forgotten and you don't find her CDs just anywhere these days.
- Babs has a be-u-ti-ful voice but cannot hold a first place in this canon as she has a very nasal tonality to her voice.
Karen Carpenter===no nasal tone whatsoever.
- And no pulse as well, r108.
- What about Marie Osmond? How could you forget her?
- " MY PUSSY STINKS! "
- The true soul queen, Irma Thomas
Kelly Clarkson belongs squarely in the Top 10. She is every bit as good as Babs or Judy or Whitney were in their primes, and much better than Christina has ever been.
- I guess Paul Robson is still too un-American to be included in this list.
- Where's my man Tom Waits?
- The late Karen Carpenter was very gifted and she could play the drums rather well. Buddy Rich complemented Karen Carpenter on her drumming ages ago and Buddy Rich was a Bastard so for him to have paid anyone a public complement is saying a hell of a lot.
I adore whoever is remixing Carpenters songs where they take the frilly Richard Carpenter shit out of them and just have the basics and Karen's voice. Linking to one of them because it is just quite something.
If Karen Carpenter did not die, I bet she would have done jazz at some point. She was great. Was she Dinah Washington or Anita O'Day great? Hell no. But she was great in her own way all the same.
- Any list without Cass Elliott is worthless.
- Let's pay tribute to Taylor Swift. Top rated songs and many, many awards.
- 1. Sarah Vaughan, she is the boss.
2. Chan Marshall, greatest vocalist of her (our) time.
3. Pasty Cline, voice like water; clear, pure and essential.
4. Nina Simone, pure soul.
5. Neko Case, perhaps the greatest "cinematic" voice ever.
6. Karen Carpenter, one of the most melodically sympathetic voice ever in music.
7. Bessie Smith, she wasn't called The Empress of the Blues for nothing.
8. Maria MaKee, woefully underrated, but her voice was like the American frontier made sound.
9. Carol Sloane, was an absolutely brilliant interpreter of song.
10. Hope Sandoval, gorgeous voice, dark, fuzzy almost scary but utterly seductive.
11. Bille Holiday, also had a very dark quality to it, again very cinematic vocal.
12. Thalia Zedek, vastly better that Patti Smith, her voice was raw, brooding, dark and full of intense emotion.
13. Leontyne Price, soaring, flawless yet deeply charismatic.
14. Emmylou Harris, she has an extraordinarily sincere deeply felt voice.
- A few years after Karen died, Richard remastered all their greatest hits and best songs, and did a nice job cleaning them up. I think this is a vinyl only release from 1984 or 1985.
Those cuts aren't the problem -- it was all the remixing he KEPT doing each time he released another collection that got old...
- Are we talking brlliant song interpreters or great voices - because they are not one and the same? A great voice - the most laser like pitch? Maureen McGovern - and I have heard that from several conductors. However, who really gives a crap because she puts me to sleep.
Judy, Babs and Eydie for me for the white chicks. Ella, Sarah and Aretha for the black chicks and how about Bubbles and Callas for opera stars?
- Why we lost the Vietnam War. Mary Martin in "Hello Dolly!"
- Where are the boys?
I don't like Frank Sinatra's voice but love Dean Martin.
I'm also crazy about Chris Isaak.
Can't stand most country but Waylon Jennings had a hell of a voice.
- It would be interesting to hear Frank Sinatra's voice worked with Autotune so that he would sound as if he was singing on pitch.
His recordings after 1955, show that he had developed serious pitch problems. Can that be repaired with modern technology?
- None of these women can touch my sister. Bey is the greatest American voice of all time!
- OH, fergawdsake!!
Anne Murray is CANADIAN (and a big closet case) An ex lover of mine.. her father screwed Murray's faux husband many years ago. She and her "personal assistant of 25 years" regularly play golf and are seen constantly together.
- In opera: Maria Callas, Leontyne Price, Beverly Sills and Marilyn Horne (all home-grown) top the lst.
- Remove Dolly Parton from this list
- Babula was hot at one time but her last two CDs were total "snorers". I really don't think she can hit the high notes anymore..at all. And I am thinking of the high note from "One Less Bell To Answer" way back when. When she hit that note, it made the hairs on the back of neck stand up. There is a vid on YouTube of her doing a song that was not included in an album where she holds a note for the longest time..quite amazing. It was a Leonard Bernstein song...something about "we'll build our house and make our garden grow" from one of his failed musicals. The song totally stank but her high note for so long was remarkable. You can find it if you look a little bit. I think this vid is from the 80s. I think the record for a long time was Donna Summer for holding a note but I think Celine has surpassed that and, of course, we now have a whole new generation of singers and I am thinking of Cherise who can hold a high note a very long time.
David Foster, LA.
- Nancy Sinatra has to be in the top 10 list for sure.
- Doris Day
- Emmylou Harris
- [quote]Anne Murray is CANADIAN
Whoa! Why didn't you say "Spoiler ahead"? She seems to speak very good English.
- How did it take until R117 for Cass Elliot to appear? Talk about a truly "American" sound:
- I can't believe someone mentioned Thalia Zedek. I love, love the song 1926. But I don't know if I would put her on the all time greatest voices list.
- I thought that this was supposed to be a list of the greatest American voices of all time. There are almost no mentions of anyone before the forties (except some who had later careers, whether or not at the same level), and no one at all from the future.
This is rather like Miss Universe being limited to people from Earth.
And what idiot tried to include Piaf?
- Barbra did not get the material she deserved. Too much if it is schmaltzy, AOR, and uninspired. Or fake romantic dreck.
If Barbra had a consistantly better catalogue of music she would be the unchallenged queen.
She should have covered songs by more daring artists, like when she did Bowie's "Life on Mars." I think in her middle years she focuses on romantic dreck because she finally saw herself as a romantic person, and I dread saying this, but her taste in music can kinda suck.
Who chose Barbra's material? Why didn't someone guide her better? Can we blame this on her producers, or did she have total control?
Or, did she begin to care more about her films?
- I think that the late Karen Carpenter had a lovely voice and I am glad she is on this thread.
Loretta Lynn is pure Americana to me. "Coal Miner's Daughter" is a great example of that because of the lyrics, orchestration, and her heartfelt vocal. It is just downright chilling how everything melds together towards something soo very beautiful and real. She might not have a grand vocal range, but she sure did nail the era she grew up in with that song.
- Esther Ofarim
- Frances Faye!
Gay, gay, Gay!
- Betty Buckley
- Dorothy Collins
- Karen Carpenter deserves to be on the list because her voice is completely unique: dusky, deep, and smooth. Instantly recognizable.
I love a lost of Dolly's music, but I wouldn't put her on the list. I'd replace her with Linda Ronstadt.
- 1. Whitney Houston (vocal range/technique no
2. Ella Fitzgerald
5. Judy Garland
6. Patsy Cline
7. Nina Simone
8. Chaka Khan
9. Phoebe Snow
10. Joan Baez
Whitney has to top this chart, range, use, technique for sure. Just listen to Whitney's version of nearly any song recorded by another singer. Whitney hits EVERY note, solid, effortlessly, and interpretation that is flawless, perfect and NOT a "song styler" like Mariah or Celine......
Her "I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" is a snoozer, for one.
No one has Whitney's ability but for some reason her singing doesn't connect with most people. and her songs are trapped in the eighties.
Was she just too good?
It's been said that people don't want their favorite singers to be too good, because they won't indentify with them and cannot sing along.
- Whitney tended to scream. That's the biggest flaw in her singing. And as for range, Aretha and Miriah both have a LOT more range.
So what, my comment stands.
Pull some of the old faves out and give a listen side by side, Whitney has it. Got to be the gospel roots, the breathing technique, head, chest, melisma mentioned yes. Point is she did it all effortlessly and with great sound. Low end to pianissimo, she could just pluck it out of thin air, nothing in between.
ALL THE OTHERS SOUND GREAT, but WEH was the only one with the entire package. Anything they could do - she could do better.
[148} I appreciate your thoughtfulness on this, but did not all of these women have "useful shelf dates?"
WEh would not have had a shelf date if she had better adult coping mechanisms. Sigh, if wishes were horses....
- Of the three names that keep repeating,
Whitney's vocals were emotional dead and to be honest the way she milked every note was annoying and brought a certain insincerity and narcissism to her vocals. It stopped being about the song and was all about her voice.
Aretha was the same and I think ultimately she had a hugely negative effect on R&B, her shouting in tone style is the template for every American Idol signer since. Her voice at times was vulgar.
Ella Fitzgerald had an amazing voice, but she had no emotional range, she always sang a song in a joyous manner, so couldn't really bring any sense of drama or melancholy to a song like Billie or Sarah could.
- Just like with many American Idol contestants, I found Whitney's "screamsinging" a total turnoff.
- [quote] It's been said that people don't want their favorite singers to be too good, because they won't indentify with them and cannot sing along.
Ha ha. Clutching at straws.
- OK, OK I'm gonna have to go there, you'll hate me, but here are a few the greatest ever non-USA signers,
1/ Polly Jean Harvey,
2/ June Tabor
3/ Sinead O'Connor
4/ Edith Piaf
5/ Chavela Vargas
6/ KD Lang
7/ Maura O'Connell
8/ Sandy Denny
9/ Vashti Bunyan
10/ Dusty Sprinfeild
- Judy Collins, Cass Elliot, Karen Carpenter and Eva Cassidy are among my all-time favorite female vocalists. Not much of a fan of diva singers like Whitney and Mariah.
- Tiny Tim owns this thread.
- [quote]And as for range, Aretha and Miriah both have a LOT more range.
Were this thread about singers in general and not just American singers, then Yma Sumac would own your claim. I am linking to one of her songs.
Aretha was a child prodigy within the world of gospel and she more than lived up to it in her adulthood. I'll give you Aretha with no troubles.
Mariah sang her voice out and I have no clue as to why she did not take better care of it at all.
- 10. Judy Collins
9. Audra McDonald
8. Patsy Cline
7. Billie Holiday
6. Patti Labelle
5. Judy Garland
4. Christine Ebersole
3. Dolores Gray
2. Maria Callas
1. Nina Simone
- It's bewildering how Dolores Gray didn't have a successful recording career. Gawjus voice.
- [quote] No one has Whitney's ability but for some reason her singing doesn't connect with most people. and her songs are trapped in the eighties.
Though I agree with your comment about Whitney being an emotionally cold vocalist (I find her singing very similar to her good friend, the late Luther Vandross, a stylist first and foremost, where their vocals emotionally unreadable), but I don't agree that her sings are trapped in the 80s. I'd say most of the songs from The Bodyguard soundtrack are the songs people immediately comes to mind when they think about Whitney in her prime.
Whitney's mother Cissy Houston was a better singer than Whitney. Cissy could do everything that Whitney could do with her voice (which makes since she taught Whitney how to sing) but Cissy has tons of bluesy grit that Whitney's clear, too-perfect voice lacked.
- R158 = Christine Ebersole
- [quote] Ella Fitzgerald had an amazing voice, but she had no emotional range, she always sang a song in a joyous manner, so couldn't really bring any sense of drama or melancholy to a song like Billie or Sarah could.
I agree. Granted, no one could out-swing Ella, that was her forte. But I agree that she had no emotional range. This is evident when you hear her do any interpretations of songs Holiday made famous (e.g., Loverman, God Bless A Child). When it came to bringing the blues to a song, she doesn't stand a chance against Billie, Sarah, Carmen and Dinah.
- What about Lena Horne?
- Damn right, r162
- I can't believe it took 70 posts before Rosemary Clooney was mentioned. Her voice is instantly recognizable. She was awesome and I miss her.
- All a little predictable. A little credit to some voices on the edge.
There are pop-rock singers like Pat Benatar, Ann Wilson, Stevie Nicks, Tori Amos, Debbie Harry, Aimee Mann, Deborah Iyall of Romeo Void, Kate Pierson, Laura Branigan, Patty Smyth, Eva Cassidy who are overlooked.
And where's Martha Wash? She can outsing half those gospel bitches, and Mahalia Jackson the rest.
And then there are some current stars who can sings their asses off: Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keys, Amy Lee of Evanescence, even LeAnn Rimes.
- Alicia Keys, R166? Her voice cracks more than a foundation in an earthquake.
- I liked Alicia Keys debut song. But she sounds awful whenever I've heard her sing New York State of Mind.
- Joni Mitchell is Canadian
- Speaking of "One Less Bell To Answer." I agree with the inclusion of Marilyn McCoo.
Very distinctive voice and she had a nice, warm tone.
- Tina Turner owns this thread.
- Aretha, Barbra, Billie Holiday, Rickie Lee Jones, Stevie Nicks, Whitney (voice not her song choices),Patsy Cline, Joan Armingtrading, Sarah Vaughn, Laura Nyro. But not in any particular order.
- Eva Cassidy
- I agree that Wynonna Judd should be considered.
OP here. A little shocked that this thread is still going, although pleased that at least a few people find it an interesting discussion. I am also a little shocked that the original post was 18 months ago. Geezus, time flies!
In any event, if I were doing the list today, I wouldn't change much, but I would have to add Kelly Clarkson. Excluding her from my original list was a mistake. She is simply fantastic, and as good as anyone today or from the past.
My current list would be:
10. Karen Carpenter.
9. Kate Smith.
8. Patsy Cline.
7. Dolly Parton.
6. Ella Fitzgerald.
5. Judy Garland.
4. Whitney Houston.
3. Kelly Clarkson.
2. Aretha Franklin.
1. Barbra Streisand.
It might seem nuts to put Kelly that high-- and sacrilegious to move her in front of Whitney and Judy and Ella-- but I really do think she is that good. She marries technical skill with emotion, and applies them to catchy popular music. She is credible in a variety of genres-- pop, country, blues, r&b. All of her albums have been, to varying degrees, excellent.
- Judy Garland hands down. No one can touch her. When she went for volume or to the upper registers of her range, her voice acquired more overtone. No other popular singer had that facility. Most, like Barbra for example, diminished in overtone when going for volume or high notes.
- Sticking just to opera
1. Marian Anderson
2. Maria Callas
3. Leontyne Price
4. Rosa Ponselle
5. Helen Traubel
6. Beverly Sills
7. Eleanor Steber
8. Jessye Norman
9. Shirley Verrett
10. Marilyn Horne
11. Renee Fleming
12. Martina Arroyo
13. Evelyn Lear
14. Grace Bumbry
15. Stephanie Blythe
16. Dolora Zajick
17. Reri Grist
18. Susan Graham
19. Kathleen Battle
20. Aprile Millo
- What, no Lorraine Hunt Lieberson?
- Streisand is very overrated as a singer, Christina does not belong in the top 10, not even in the top 50. How about Donna Summer, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, Yolanda Adams. Any black backup singer can sing Streisand off the stage.
- Kelly Clarkson and Christina Aguilera just seem a little random compared to the rest of the list. I'm not going to say because they're new they can't possibly be as good, but they do have to stand the test of time, and I know already that there material up until now hasn't come even close to the other performers. They're going to have a hard time catching up, even with their voices.
- Joni Mitchell is Canadian, not American.
- Joan Armatrading isn't American. A great choice, but for another list. I always thought it was odd that the masses went googoo for Tracy Chapman when she just sounded like a self-pitying version of Armatrading, who's far superior on any day. I also agree with Wynonna's inclusion somewhere on the list. Considering her only a country vocalist is a big mistake, though. Her R&B chops are severely underrated. Her grit and growl are really unmatched by the majoriy of those who are actually classified as R&B "singers".
- I find Wynonna pretty overrated, and her "growl" always makes me giggle.
- 10. Dionne Warwick
9. Freddy Mercury
8. Karen Carpenter
7. Nat King Cole
6. Shirley Bassey
5. Luciano Pavarotti
4. Ella Fitz-Gerald
3. Luther Vandross
2. Barbara Streisand
1. Whitney Houston
Honorable Mentions: Donna Summer, Bobby Caldwell, Sara Vaughn, Daryl Coley, Cece Winans, Frank Sinatra, Rachelle Ferrell and Patsy Cline
- Rebecca Black! She's an American icon!
- Uh, no OP! Your list is way too pale for my taste.
1. Aretha Franklin
2. Whitney Houston
3. Tina Turner
4. Janet Jackson
5. Diana Ross
6. Gladys Knight
7. Gloria Gaynor
8. Billye Holliday
9. Patti Labelle
10. Freda Payne
- Mercury, Bassey, Pavarotti. Great Americans one and all...
- r186 Janet Jackson can barely sing a phrase, She does not belong in that company. Ross is not a power singer, but she is distinctive. What about Lavern Baker and Ruth Brown? Superior to Gaynor and Payne. No Ella, Sara or Lena?
This is your annual reminder that Canada is in America - North America. You're welcome.
Canada Troll that Prefers the Black Singers
- I cannot believe none of you have mentioned Fantasia. Twits, the lot of you!
- [quote] I cannot believe none of you have mentioned Fantasia. Twits, the lot of you!
I can't say it better than this video.
- Thank you!!!
- Diamanda Galas
- I liked the Google doodle of Ella yesterday.
- How could you forget Tammy Wynette? Distinctive, flawless and about as American as it comes.
- I think Whitney Houston messes everything up. In a way, it's unfair to anyone to compare them to her. It's like the thread should be titled "The greatest American Voice of All Time Who Wasn't Whitney Houston."
Not to say she was necessarily "The Greatest American Voice of All Time." She was on a league of her own.
- Eva Cassidy had one of the best voices I've ever heard. I'd heard about her (she died tragically prematurely) but wasn't much interested in listening to her singing. When I finally did, I was amazed. She really WAS as good as people were saying she was. She had one of the most beautiful, expressive voices I've ever heard. She was extraordinary.
- "I cannot believe none of you have mentioned Fantasia."
- [quote]5. Neko Case, perhaps the greatest "cinematic" voice ever.
One of my all-time favorite voices. Cinematic is a great way to describe it.
- Umm, ODETTA!
- And if we're talking classical: Jessye Norman (the greatest probably), Leontyne Price, Eleanor Steber, Dawn Upshaw, Frederica von Stade, Renee Fleming (though not of late), Jam DeGaetani (listen to her Pierrot Lunaire), June Anderson, Arleen Auger, Tatiana Troyanos, Kathleen Battle, Benita Valente, Martina Arroyo, Maria Callas (by birth)
- There is Judy Garland, then there is everyone else. No one can come close to the rich overtone in her voice and the musicality in the way she used it. One composer I know called her "the best conveyor of music." And she was.
- Aretha Franklin
Clyde Mc Fadder
- Adele Dazeem
- Any list that does not include Billie Holiday is a joke. Not a big voice but what she did with it was beyond great.
- In no particular order
- There are only two for me: Whitney Houston. In her prime, no one could touch her for the range and the control she had. Same with Babs. Streisand was untouchable in her prime.
They are the greatest voices.
Now many of those listed are classics, rare amazingly talented and gifted. But when I think of who is in a class by herself, it's those two when it comes to the sheer purity of the voice. Glorious.
- Not to hijack this thread or ruffle any feathers but I think the 3 most overrated singers of the last century are:
3. Barbra Streisand
2. Whitney Houston
1. Celine Dion
- SARAH MOTHERFUCKING VAUGHAN IS NUMBER ONE!!!
- EVA CASSIDY
- Hate to break it you Babs lovers but her voice is and always was a little thin. Otherwise, I would agree that she was near the cream of the crop.
- Tina fucking Turner!! That woman can sing anything and make it sound original and amazing. Santana wanted Tina over Michelle Branch for Game of Love. She was fantastic singing jazz with Herbie Hancock. And her rare acoustic performances were incredible. Here's one of her greatest vocal performances. Just wow: tone, distinctiveness, charisma, and above all passion. Arguably the greatest live singer/performer of all time. And this woman NEVER lip-synched. A singular talent and an iconic voice in American rock music. Though I don't blame her for moving to Switzerland.
- I haven't read the entire thread, but has anyone mentioned Florence Foster Jenkins?
- Ella Mae Morse, best known fore "Cow-Cow Boogie" which she recorded when part of Freddie Slack's band.
She lost gigs in the South because some bookers thought she was black. Her recordings were even bigger on the R&B charts. She was extremely proud of both of these.
Elvis noted that he copied Ella Mae's style of singing.
Her big problem was that Capitol gave her mostly crap songs.
- Anita Baker
- Carole King--giving us fabulous music for 40+ years
- Mariah Carey, DUH!
- I would have loved to hear Judy Garland singing "And I Am Telling You.."
She would have nailed it.
- Rise Stevens
Frederica von Stade
- Don't forget Rihanna!!