The 30 Greatest American Singers of All Time

Being a prominent singer in America is not an easy journey. A lot of singers tried their shots in the music industry but had no luck. However, These are the artists who have helped shape the musical landscape and made amazing songs that captured the hearts of listeners in different generations.

Regardless of age or genre, the best singers have one thing in common: an unforgettable voice. From the radio to the big stage, these are the 30 greatest American singers of all time.

1. Elvis Presley

As the undefeated King of Rock N’ Roll, there is no question that an iconic figure like Elvis Presley belongs on any list of the greatest American singers. His influence on music is undeniable in that he released dozens of hit songs, many of which are still popular today. His song ”Can’t Help Falling In Love” is still one of the most popular songs ever recorded. 

He has the voice and dance moves that can make any woman swoon. If you have never listened to Elvis Presley, then you are missing out on one of the greatest American singers of all time.

2. Michael Jackson

The late King of Pop and legend who danced the famous ‘Moonwalk’, Michael Jackson is no doubt part of any conversation when it comes to being one of the greatest American singers.

Winning 13 Grammy awards and selling more than 750 million records all around the world, his impact on the music industry is still felt today. His album “Thriller” is the best-selling album of all time, with more reliable estimates pointing to around 70 million copies sold (but there are some claims that the figures are closer to 110 million). Hearing his hit songs like “Billie Jean ” and “Beat It” is sure to get anyone out of their comfort zone and onto the dance floor. 

As a revolutionary artist who broke racial standards, Jackson’s unique voice and style have inspired artists across all genres. Whether you are a fan of pop, rock, or hip-hop, there is something for everyone in Jackson’s catalog. He was a true pioneer in the world of music.

3. Aretha Franklin

Being the first female artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Aretha Franklin is one of the most highly respected singers in America. She has won a total of 18 Grammy awards and she ranks 3rd highest female Grammy Award-recipient.

 With hits like “Respect” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, she became an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement and Women’s Liberation Movement in the 60s. 

Aretha Franklin is truly a woman of power and strength who has inspired other female artists to be fearless in their music. She is a master of conveying feelings through her singing, and her songs are often about important topics like love, loss, and social justice. Franklin’s music is timeless and relevant, and it deserves to be heard by new generations of listeners.

4. Whitney Houston

The late Whitney Houston was a pop icon and one of the best-selling music artists of all time. With hits like “I Will Always Love You” and “How Will I Know”, she is considered to be one of the greatest singers of her generation.

She has won 22 American Music Awards, six Grammy Awards, two Emmy Awards, and many more. Her album “Whitney” is the only album by a female artist to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 chart. 

She has had a significant influence on other musicians with her powerful vocals and heartfelt ballads. It has a great beat and can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Her lyrics are also meaningful and provide listeners with a message that is worth hearing. Overall, Whitney Houston’s music is something that everyone should listen to.

5. Mariah Carey

You’ll know Christmas is fast approaching when you start hearing Mariah Carey’s holiday hit “All I Want For Christmas Is You” on the radio.

This Grammy Award-winning singer has sold more than 200 million records worldwide and is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. With hits like “We Belong Together” and ”My All”, she has become one of the most successful singers in the music industry. She has also broken several records with her five-octave vocal range. 

Carey is truly a force to be reckoned with and has inspired other artists with her powerful vocal abilities. Simply put, Mariah Carey is a musical legend and there is no one else quite like her. If you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and listen to her music – you won’t be disappointed.

6. Frank Sinatra

Who could ever forget “Fly Me To The Moon”? This classic song by the one and only Frank Sinatra is just a taste of his immense talent and artistry. His romantic ballads and crooning voice have made him one of the most iconic singers in America.

He has won a total of 11 Grammy Awards, four Golden Globes, and many more. His impact on music is still felt today as his songs continue to be popular among many generations. 

His songs are often personal and introspective, which allows listeners to connect with him on a deeper level. Additionally, Sinatra’s voice is unlike any other, and his delivery is impeccable. He is truly one of the greatest American singers of all time.

7. Prince

The late Prince was a musical genius and one of the most influential artists of our time. He was a multi-talented singer, songwriter, producer, and musician who could play more than 27 instruments.

With hits like “Purple Rain” and “Kiss”, he became one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He won 7 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, and many more accolades. He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. 

His music is a unique blend of rock, R&B, soul, and pop that has inspired generations of artists. If you’re looking for something new to listen to, or just want to enjoy some great music, then check out Prince’s music.

8. Sam Cooke

As one of the most influential singers of the Civil Rights Movement, Sam Cooke is remembered for his many soulful ballads like “A Change Is Gonna Come” and “Bring It On Home To Me”. He has been cited as a major inspiration by artists like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

Also a businessman, Cooke founded his record label ‘SAR Records’ which helped to promote other African American artists. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and he continues to be one of the most revered singers in America.

Sam Cooke’s music is good because it is soulful and has a message that everyone can relate to. His voice is unique and his style is timeless. If you haven’t already, you should listen to Sam Cooke’s music. You won’t be disappointed.

9. Stevie Wonder

True to his name, Stevie Wonder is a musical wonder and one of the most successful singers of all time. With hits like “Superstition” and “I Wish”, he has become one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

He has won 19 Grammy Awards, which includes the Grammy Lifetime Achievement, as well as an Oscar, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and many more. 

Wonder is a notable musical icon and has inspired many other artists with his unique sound and positive message. There is no wonder that he is one of the greatest American singers of all time.

10. Tina Turner

Tina made the music world turn as she is recognized for her powerful singing and distinctive dance steps. She has won eight Grammy Awards, three American Music Awards, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

With hits like “What’s Love Got To Do With It” and “River Deep, Mountain High”, Turner has become one of the best-selling artists of all time. She has also broken several records with her live performances.

She has incredible range and emotion in her voice, and her ability to connect with her fans is undeniable. Her live performances are legendary, and she always puts on a great show. If you’re looking for an artist who can really rock a room, Tina Turner is the one for you.

11. Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye was a master of soul music and is known for his hits like “Sexual Healing” and “What’s Going On”. Gaye has won numerous awards, including four Grammy Awards, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

He changed the face of music with his smooth and sexy voice, blending the energy and spirituality of the urban scene with the beat of the ancient-time gospel singer, becoming an important figure in pop music.

Gaye’s music is powerful and moving, and it can touch our hearts and souls. It is honest and real, and it speaks to the human condition. Gaye’s music is important and necessary, and we should all listen to it.

12. James Brown

Everything feels good when James Brown is on stage. He is the “Godfather of Soul” and is known for his high-energy dance moves and signature style. With hits like “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine”, he has become one of the best-selling artists of all time.

Groovy and funky, Brown has won three Grammys and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has had a profound influence on music and popular culture and is often credited as one of the most important singers of the 20th century.

James Brown was a true pioneer in the world of funk and soul music. He helped to create a new sound that would go on to influence countless other artists. When you listen to James Brown, you are listening to the sound of America.

13. Ray Charles

Because of his wonderfully controlled sound assortments, the legendary musician was once referred to as the “Master of Sounds.”

Ray Charles was a legendary singer and pianist who influenced generations of musicians. He was a master of both jazz and blues and is known for his hits like “Georgia on My Mind” and “I Got a Woman”. He has won 17 Grammys, which includes the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Charles has left a lasting legacy and is considered one of the greatest musicians of all time. His music is just plain fun – it’s the perfect thing to listen to when you want to relax and enjoy yourself. So why not give Ray Charles a listen? You might just find yourself a new favorite artist. 

14. Bob Dylan

An American icon, Bob Dylan is a singer-songwriter who has been influential in music and culture for over five decades. He is known for his poetic lyrics and original songwriting style, which has inspired many other artists.

With hits like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Like a Rolling Stone”, he has become one of the best-selling artists of all time. Dylan has won 10 Grammy Awards, as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was also awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016. 

He is a great storyteller, his songs are timeless and his music has helped shape popular culture.  Dylan is one of the greatest American singers of all time and his music is definitely worth a listen.

15. Johnny Cash

Thinking about having an existential crisis? Cash’s contribution to sad music themes with his calm baritone voice is out of the ordinary.  The country singer was known for his hits like “I Walk the Line’ and ‘Ring of Fire’. He is also a Grammy award winner, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

His approach to sorrowful music has refreshed the genre and has helped him become one of the greatest American singers of all time. He was simply a great performer, always giving 100% and leaving everything on the stage. If you’re looking for someone to listen to who is a true American icon, then Johnny Cash is the man for you.

16. Janis Joplin

A female rockstar,  Janis Joplin was one of the most successful and popular musicians of her time. She was known for her powerful vocals and raw bluesy sound.

With hits like “Piece of My Heart” and “Me and Bobby McGee”, she has become one of the best-selling artists of all time. Until Janis Joplin takes the stage, raw emotions have never sounded so beautiful.

Her music is timeless. It’s been over 50 years since she first rose to prominence, and yet her songs still sound fresh and relevant today. Thanks to Janis, we can all listen to music and feel like we’re part of something special.

17. Steven Tyler

You don’t wanna miss this rock vocalist who is known for his high-pitched screams and vocal range. Steven Tyler is the frontman of the popular rock band Aerosmith and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

You might have heard their hit songs “Dream On” and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” Tyler has also released several solo albums and ventured into television as a judge on American Idol. 

He is also known for his on-stage antics, which include wearing outrageous costumes and makeup. If you’re looking for a great artist to listen to, Steven Tyler is a great choice.

18. Madonna

The ‘Queen of Pop’ is no doubt part of the greatest American singers of all time. Madonna has achieved massive success in her decades-long career with hit songs such as “Like a Virgin,” “Papa Don’t Preach,” and “Vogue.”

She has also won numerous awards. Madonna is known for her controversial antics. She is also known for her outspokenness and her advocacy for social causes. She is one of the most influential figures in pop music, and her influence is still felt today.

 If you’re looking for an artist who has changed the face of pop music, Madonna is a great pick. Nothing is too much for this Material Girl!

19. Patsy Cline

Country music has been around for a while now and Patsy Cline was one of the genre’s most popular singers in the 1950s and 1960s. Her soulful voice has been praised by many, including Dolly Parton who once said, “She is a true stylist, and I just thought it was so very different and so unusual. I have always loved her sound.”

Cline’s hits include “Crazy,” “I Fall to Pieces,” and “Sweet Dreams (Of You).” Unfortunately, she passed away at the tragic age of 30. Despite the tragic end of her life, Patsy Cline’s legacy continues through her unforgettable music.

If you’re looking for a singer who epitomizes the term “legend,” then Patsy Cline is the one for you. listen to her music and you’ll see why she’s considered one of the greatest American singers of all time.

20. Little Richard

From rock to hip-hop, Little Richard’s influence can be heard in many genres of music today. He is known as the “Architect of Rock ‘n’ Roll” for his contributions to the early development of the genre.

His hit songs include “Long Tall Sally,” “Tutti Frutti,” and “Good Golly Miss Molly.” Little Richard was also one of the first openly gay performers in popular music. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

His music is some of the best ever created. It’s catchy, upbeat, and just plain fun. It’s the perfect antidote to a bad day, and it will get your toes tapping every time. If you’re looking for a great singer to listen to, look no further than Little Richard. You’ll be glad you did.

21. Bruce Springsteen

Energetic and heart-felt, Bruce Springsteen is a singer-songwriter who is often referred to as “The Boss.” He is best known for his work with the E Street Band. Some of their most popular songs include “Born to Run,” “Thunder Road,” and “Dancing in the Dark.”

Springsteen is known for his long and intense live shows, which often last over three hours. He is one of the true icons of American music.

His vocals and enthusiasm are amazing, but you shouldn’t overlook his lyrical talent. One of the greatest songwriters in history. You can’t help but sing along when you hear one of his songs on the radio.

22. Jim Morrison

Poetic lyrics and dark charisma made Jim Morrison one of the most iconic and controversial frontmen in rock history. He was the lead singer of The Doors, whose hits include “Light My Fire” and “Break On Through (To the Other Side).”

Morrison was known for his on-stage antics, which often involved intoxication and stripped down to his bare chest. He died at the age of 27, but his music lives on as he is still one of the singers revered and popular in the music industry.

He is a person who has a raw talent which is seen in his incredible deliverability and impressions, whether live events or videos. He and his band definitely know how to make a crowd go wild.

23. Nat King Cole

Truly unforgettable, Jazz and pop singer Nat King Cole was one of the first African American performers to gain mainstream success. He stood out as a jazz pianist which made him popular in the 1940s.

His smooth singing voice earned him even more fans in the 1950s with hits like “Unforgettable” and “Mona Lisa.” Cole was also a successful television performer, hosting his show in 1956. He passed away in 1965, but his music continues to be loved by fans around the world.

He could make you feel happy, sad, romantic, or nostalgic, often all in the same song. And he did it all with a warm, genuine smile that made you feel like he was singing just for you. That’s the kind of magic that great singers are made of, and it’s why Nat King Cole will always be one of the greatest American singers of all time.

24. Willie Nelson

The outlaw country singer has been making music for over six decades. His hits include “On the Road Again” and “Always on My Mind.”

He has also won numerous awards, including several Grammys. Willie Nelson is known for his unique voice, which sounds even more weathered with age. He is also an accomplished guitarist. At the age of 84, Willie Nelson is still touring and making music.

His song has made rounds all over the world because it’s catchy, it’s fun, and it will make you feel good. So go ahead and listen to Willie Nelson. You’ll be thrilled you did!

25. Kurt Cobain

The rock band Nirvana’s frontman was a defining voice of the 1990s grunge movement. His hits with Nirvana include “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Come As You Are.” He passed away at the tragic age of 27. Despite his short life, Kurt Cobain’s legacy is still running through his music.

He paved the way for many other artists and inspired a new generation of music lovers. So, If you’re a fan of rock music, or just looking for something new to listen to, give Kurt Cobain a try – you won’t be disappointed.

26. Jeff Buckley

Finding solace in a song can be hard, but when you hear Jeff Buckley’s voice it is impossible not to feel drawn to the emotions. His only studio album, Grace, is often cited as one of the greatest albums of all time.

His song “Hallelujah” has been covered by many artists, but Buckley’s version is still the most popular. He died tragically in 1997 at the age of 30, but his music continues to make rounds in the music world.

Every time we listen, we discover something new and incredible about his artistry. If you haven’t listened to Jeff Buckley yet, you’re truly missing out on one of the greatest American singers of all time!

27. Billy Joel

The Piano Man himself, Billy Joel is one of the best-selling solo artists of all time. His hits include “Uptown Girl,” “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” and “Piano Man.” Joel has been inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

He is still touring and performing today, which makes him one of the oldest singers on this list. His songs are catchy and easy to sing along to. Billy Joel is a legendary figure and one of the finest American singers of all time.

28. Karen Carpenter

The perfect pitch singer of The Carpenters, Karen Carpenter was a pop icon of the 1970s. She and her brother Richard Carpenter had hits like “Top of the World” and “We’ve Only Just Begun.” Carpenter’s voice was truly unique and she was able to hit notes that other singers could only dream of reaching. 

She had a powerful yet delicate voice that could convey a wide range of emotions, from heart-wrenching sadness to joyous exuberance. Truly one of the greatest voices that have ever graced the music industry.

29. Diana Ross

This pop singer and actress has captured the hearts of fans around the world. As the lead singer of The Supremes, Diana Ross had hits like “Baby Love” and “Stop! In the Name of Love.” She also had a successful solo career with songs like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “I’m Coming Out.” 

Her songs are groovy and perfect for any dance party. They make us feel happy and uplifted, and her voice is truly unique. She’s one of the greatest American singers of all time, and you should listen to her music to get groovin’!

30. Lionel Richie

‘Hello? Is it me you’re looking for?’ You may have heard this line before, and if you have then you know Lionel Richie. He was the front man for The Commodores in the 1970s before going solo in the 1980s.

Some of his hits include “All Night Long,” “Hello,” and “Say You, Say Me.” Richie has won four Grammy Awards and he was even given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Truly an iconic singer, Lionel Richie’s music will continue to be loved for generations to come.

Looking for a song to listen to when you’re feeling down?  Maybe you want to listen to something feel-good and upbeat. Regardless of what you’re looking for, Lionel Richie has a song for you.

Conclusion

The world of singers is vast and filled with talent. These are just a few of the greatest American singers of all time. Each one has brought their own unique style to the music industry. Whether you’re a fan of country, rock, pop, or anything in between, there is sure to be an American singer that you love.

Mariah Carey Featured Image (Bottom-Left) by: WBLS, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Michael Jackson Featured Image (Bottom-Right) by: Zoran Veselinovic, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Brian Clark is a multi-instrumentalist and music producer. He is passionate about practically all areas of music and he particularly enjoys writing about the music industry.

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