There have been many unique voices in music. Their songs range from rebellion to love to politics. Some of them cover all three subjects in the same song. This list is comprised of some of the most authentic and recognizable voices in music, in no particular order.
1. Prince – Prince’s range is unparalleled. It stretches from about low first soprano to a baritone. His musical style ranges from Blues to pure R&B to Rock and Roll. And he composes and writes all of his music. Prince is a musical genius. Every instrument that you hear in his songs, he can and does play. He wiggles, gyrates, and slides across the floor engulfed in his music. But more so than his vast knowledge of music and wild and fun entertainment, he is a gifted vocalist.
2. Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan sung from the heart. He used his nasal voice and moved generations with deep, meaningful lyrics, political musings, and intellect. Bob Dylan is responsible for some of the most important and moving anti-war songs that have been produced over the years.
3. Elvis Presley – The King was one of the most seminal talents in the last century. His voice remains one of the most easily recognizable in the history of music. He sung a cross of blues and rock and roll to his adoring fans. He was an entity all to himself.
4. Michael Jackson – Michael Jackson showed more technical merit as a child, singing songs such as, ”Who’s Loving You” and “Stop the Love You Save May Be Your Own.” His range and his runs were more versatile and fluid in his youth than they were in his adulthood. As an adult his style became more focused and less soulful, but his airy vibrato and his ability to manipulate his voice while enhancing each song were both uncanny and unparalleled. Michael Jackson was an innovator on stage. He made crotch grabbing, moon walking, and plastic surgery in vogue across the world. His presence in areas caused riots. Girls, boys, women, and grown men fainted at the sight of him. He was that awe-inspiring. Michael Jackson had one of the most unique voices and decorated music careers that the world has ever seen. He was the best entertainer that ever lived.
5. Phil Collins – Phil Collins started as the front man for Genesis, one of the best bands of the 70’s and the 80’s. Then, he morphed into a one man show in the 90’s. Collins has a rasp and a distinct hollow to his soft, endearing voice. He dominated the radio in the late eighties and early nineties with his own personal blend of pop, soft rock, and easy listening. “In the Air Tonight’ still stands as one of the most popular songs in recent music history.
6. Luciano Pavarotti – Pavarotti owned one of the biggest, most forceful and resounding voices that music has ever witnessed. His powerful second tenor was one of the most recognizable and beautiful sounds in opera and the world. Pavarotti voice had a depth and girth that no one in music has been able to match and his vibrato is unparalleled. Luciano Pavarotti was a master of his craft and his voice transcended his genre.
7. Marvin Gaye – Marvin Gaye has one of the most celebrated falsettos in soul music. He also has one of the most versatile ranges in music. He sang songs about love, politics, and the economy. He specifically fought against the prejudice that faced minorities during the seventies through his music. He used his unique voice as a weapon for equality.
8. Aretha Franklin – Aretha Franklin may possess the best voice on Earth. When she sings, she touches her audience’s heart and soul. She epitomizes a soul singer. Her first alto is resounding, and has just enough rasp to grab the attention of anyone that hears her. Aretha’s voice is as powerful and booming as any man’s voice, but still feminine, elegant, and beautiful.
9. Luther Vandross – Luther Vandross’s throaty, puissant tenor was one of the most unique voices that the world has seen. He dominated pop and R&B radio stations during the eighties with various types of love songs. He sang up tempo songs about the power of love, power ballads about being in love, and slow deliberate songs about losing love. Luther sang with conviction and with unique runs and style.
10. Ray Charles – Ray Charles gruff voice and smooth delivery brought along the modern era of music. He combined elements of gospel, blues, country, and rock to form the first real popular music. He was an innovator.
11. Johnny Cash –Johnny Cash had a virile, booming voice. He brought country into the mainstream and opened the door for rock and roll. With his frank, unassuming style and straight-forward delivery, Johnny Cash made it cool to be country.
12. Freddie Mercury – Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, could easily sing four octaves though he was a natural baritone. He manipulated his voice with ease and sung and wrote some of the most compelling songs of his generation, like “Bohemian Rhapsody”,”Somebody to Love”, and “We Are the Champions”.
13. Willie Nelson – Willie Nelson is one of today’s last links to real country. He had a way of walking his audience through a song. His music has lasted more than 50 years because his emotions showed through it. He has an innate feel for what his songs need to connect with his audience, and he delivers every time.
14. Celine Dion – Celine Dion has one of the most recognizable voices in the music industry. She sings sweetly, yet powerfully, and she excels when singing ballads. Her song in the movie Titanic defined a generation of movie-goers and catapulted her into a superstar. Her strong vibrato and piercing voice are so beautiful that she was built her own building in Vegas where she performs exclusively.
15. Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston sung like an angel. She had impeccable range and one of the most pliable, yet powerful voices in music history. Though she started as a R&B singer, she quickly became one of the most accomplished popular singers in music history. Though she sung mostly as a second soprano her voice was full and she utilized her rich vibrato perfectly.
16. Al Green – Al Green was the epitome of a soul singer. He was entrenched somewhere between blues, R&B, and gospel. He excelled in love songs because he seemed so genuine and was so endeared to his fans, particularly women.
17. Frank Sinatra – Old Blue Eyes has one of the smoothest tenors that the world has ever heard. His voice transcends time and genre. He was the ultimate crooner, and he used perfect technique in his singing. He was a minimalist when performing which let the musicianship of his band enhance his natural talent.
18. Barry White – The Maestro of Love was responsible for an entire generation of children being born. His booming bass reached the lowest tessitura and sounded like a carnal growl. But, that growl was adored by millions of fans worldwide. He was one of the most loved and recognized singers of this generation. He sang love songs like no other.
19. Patsy Cline – Patsy sung sweet, love songs with depth and skill and beautiful songs about heartbreak. Her country songs transcended genre, reached the hearts of millions, and set a standard for music in the 50’s and 60’s.
20. Bing Crosby – Bing Crosby’s baritone was full and mellow. He sang heart-warming songs that made people start campfires and enjoy the company of their peers. His Christmas songs and movies are ingrained into America’s culture. He also dabbled in big band music and jazz. Bing is one of the most talented crooners that ever lived.
21. Billie Holliday – Billie Holliday was incomparable when she sung about love being lost. She had a mournful tone that was almost tactile. She had a unique ability to sing quietly and powerfully simultaneously. There was always a smoldering emotion behind her voice. She turned the world of jazz and blues on its ear, by singing the normally upbeat tunes of jazz slow and bluesy. She changed the world of music permanently.
22. Teddy Pendergrass – Teddy P. mixed a gruff, tenor with a soul and style. He sang songs of oppression, love of family, and the materialism of the world. He sung powerfully and with purpose. His love songs started a following that young male singers can only wish to have one day. Teddy P. sold out ladies only concerts that were standing room only and never failed to deliver the goods.
23. Patti LaBelle – Patti LaBelle’s first soprano is unmatched even today. When she sang a love song, people felt what that song really meant. Her voice was powerful, but high in pitch. It was forceful, but sultry when it needed to be. Patti could sing with anyone on the planet. She sang classic R&B ballads. She sang funk and disco with LaBelle, her group. And, she even sang pop and soft rock with Michael Macdonald. She was versatile musically and even went into acting. Patti LaBelle was one of the world’s rarest voices and talents.
24. Steve Tyler – Steve Tyler’s voice was just primal. He screamed and preened his way into rock and roll history. He is the forefather of hard rock. Without songs like, “Welcome to the Jungle,” and “Dream On,” and “Walk This Way,” music as we know it today may have never been formed. Aerosmith’s collaboration with Run DMC helped bring rap into the mainstream. Steve Tyler helped make rap popular.
25. James Brown – James Brown’s voice was scratchy, weighty, and sometimes piercing. He would scream or squeal to get the crowd on their feet. James Brown was a ball of energy when he sung fast songs and a ball of emotion when he sung slow ones. As an artist, he connected with his audience on an emotional level. He loved and felt what he was singing, so his fans did too.