The 10 best blues singers span decades of generations, dating back from slavery through post world war's to the present. The blues is a type of musical format that evolved from African-American work songs, spirituals and country string ballads. Below are the ten best blues singers of all time.
- W.C. Handy: Known as the "Father of the Blues," W.C Handy is one of the best blues singers. Handy knew the value of the blues and especially Southern black music which would become an American black legacy. Handy published "Memphis Blues" in 1912 which was the first song that actually included the word "Blues" in the song.
- Mamie Smith: Famous for being the first singer to record a blues song called "Crazy Blues," Mamie Smith is also one of the best blues singers. Recorded in 1920, "Crazy Blues" became a huge blues hit by selling over one million copies within one year of it's release.
- Fats Domino: His big smile and calm singing voice made Fats Domino one of the best blues singers. Famous for helping black music reach over to a white fan base, Fats Domino's shy charm and warm singing voice made many of his songs such as "Blueberry Hill" become classics.
- Billie Holiday: With an amazing sense of rhythm and harmony, Billie Holiday is also one of the best blues singers. A life filled with much misery is believed to be the reason Holiday was able to convey such emotional meaning into her songs such as "God Bless the Child."
- B.B King: Known as the "King of the Blues," B.B King is one of the best blues singers. A career that stretched over five decades, B.B King sang in small clubs to the best concert halls in the world. His musical style began with the delta blues but then became more polished with the combination of gospel, pop and jazz. "Three O'Clock Blues" is one of B.B King's best blues songs to get a feel for how he combined musical styles.
- Muddy Waters: Famous for taking the delta blues from the South and into Chicago, Muddy Waters is one of the best blues singers. With strong powerful vocals and brilliant songwriting skills, Waters established the sound of the Chicago electric blues. The Rolling Stones even took their name from one of Muddy Waters best songs called "Rolling Stone."
- Bessie Smith: As a vocalist who influenced many of the other legendary blues singers, Bessie Smith is one of the best blues singers. She was an inspiration to the black community and continued to perform during the depression. Her self confidence was part of her appeal and a main ingredient to her expressive vocals as heard on her own composition of "Back Water Blues."
- Big Mama Thornton: Big Mama Thornton was one of the best blues singers as well as a drummer and harmonica player. Her 1953 recording of "Hound Dog" became a number one hit on the R&B charts. She began singing at the age of fourteen in the South and eventually ended up in San Francisco playing blues festivals. Her recording of "Ball n' Chain" was later recorded and made famous by Janis Joplin.
- John Lee Hooker: As a blues singer with a haunting and compelling voice, John Lee Hooker is another one of the best blues singers. Hooker's unique song style influenced other musical genre's especially rock and roll. Hooker's 1989 release of "The Healer" was a collaboration of both blues and rock music.
- Charley Patton: As the father of "Delta Blues," Charley Patton is one of the best blues singers. Patton is known for his hyper-active stage performances and raw vocal style which can be heard on his song "Pony Blues," as well as being a one man band member who could play a percussion section with his guitar.
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