The top 10 best blues singers can easily reach a list of over fifty blues artists. The originators of the blues take most of the top places with their original style and many recordings that blues genre lovers enjoy today. Blues singers on the top 10 best blues singers list passed criteria that included influencing others, original style, and popularity in the genre during their time and the present.
- McKinley Morganfield. McKinley Morganfield played the Chicago blues and gained fame as the father of the best blues singers. His alternative name “Muddy Waters” came from his family nicknaming him when he picked up the harmonica and muddy when he played in the mud as a toddler, according to Delta School. Muddy Waters’ rich tenor voice strongly sung lagging the beat and played slide guitar different of the contemporary artists in his time. Muddy Waters was born April 4, 1915 and died April 30, 1983, according to Delta School.
- B.B. King. Riley “B.B.” King acquired the nickname “B.B.” from the blues boy name he gained while hosting a radio show in Memphis, according to Delta School. As his fame grew as one of the best blues singers so did his talent. King received recording contracts and eventually landed a hit with the single “Three O’Clock Blues,” according to Delta School.
- John Lee Hooker. John Lee Hooker’s claim to best blues singers’ fame came from a long line of playing and recording a single called “Boogie Chillen,” according to Delta School, which rose to the top of the Billboard in 1949. His menacing vocals revealed deep, spoken words that introduced this style to the blues scene.
- Bessie Smith. Bessie Smith sold out theatres nationwide as one of the best blues singers and influenced many singers both male and female, according to Delta School. She sang alongside some other legendary blues singers. This mostly live artist made the very first record recorded electronically, known as “Cane Walking Babies,” with the microphone, according to Delta School.
- Memphis Minnie. Lizzie Douglas, known as Memphis Minnie, played energetic guitar and sang with powerful vocals, according to Delta School. She grew in popularity as one of the best blues singers in her time known as a country blues singer, according to Delta School, and an influential artist.
- Junior Wells. Amos Blackmore, known as Junior Wells, perfected the harp licks and amazed audiences with his Chicago blues style, according to Blues Harp Legends. Wells recorded several popular albums including “Hoodoo Man” and his last, “Come on in This House.”
- Bilie Holiday. Bilie Holiday, known as one of the most influential female blues vocalists of all time and one of the best blues singers, recorded several hits that people enjoy today. Her light, untrained voice rang clear on the love songs she sang during her time, leaving a warm or haunting feeling in the listener depending on the song. Holiday’s career began with recordings brought about from John Hammond, according to PBS’ Ken Burns, and continued as she sang alongside many well-known musicians during her time.
- Buddy Guy. Buddy Guy’s electrifying guitar playing influenced the blues in a new way while keeping to the roots of the genre, according to the Rock Hall of Fame. Recording for well-known labels during his time, he also influenced many other musicians. Winner of a Grammy and W.C. Handy awards, Guy’s popularity rose with Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues,according to the Rock Hall of Fame.
- "Son" House. Eddie James “Son” House Jr. learned the guitar through James McCoy and his powerful vocals and slide guitar created his rise to fame in the blues, according to the Delta School. He played several gigs and recorded during his lifetime. His beginnings in the blues led to influencing other popular blues artists, according to the Delta School.
- Bukka White. Booker T. Washington, also known as “Bukka” White, gained fame while serving time at Parchman Farm with two hits, Shake ‘Em on Down and New Shake ‘Em on Down, according to the Delta School. Bukka is known for his holler, slide guitar, and electrifying compositions, according to the Delta School, while playing several gigs for other well known blues performers.