Best Singers With Raspy Voices

The best singers with raspy voices display one of the most coveted and sought-after trademarks of memorable singing: the raspy voice. Singers all over the world would kill to sound like these singers. The soulful quality in these singers’ voices has pushed all of them to an immense amount of fame, fortune, and industry recognition.

  1. Kim Carnes. Carnes’ song, “Betty Davis Eyes,” earned her a seat in the pantheon of singers with raspy voices. Fortunately for fans, she released many more hits after her signature 1981 song, but none was bigger than “Betty Davis Eyes,” which went on to earn Carnes two Grammy Awards. It was the second best-selling song of the ‘80’s, right behind Olivia Newton-Johns’ “Physical”.
  2. Joe Cocker. Often imitated but never duplicated, Joe Cocker is a treasure in the music world and one of the best singers with a raspy voice. Perhaps best known for his legendary “With a Little Help from My Friends,” Cocker would renew his fame with 1982’s “Up Where We Belong,” a smoky duet performed with Jennifer Warnes. Cocker’s career has spanned nearly five decades.
  3. Macy Gray. The highest-pitched of the best singers with raspy voices, Macy Gray’s indelible style has earned her five Grammy nominations with one win. She broke out in 2000 with the single “I Try,” and in addition to singing and songwriting, Gray has tried her hand at producing and acting.
  4. Johnny Rzeznik (Goo Goo Dolls). While the Goo Goo Dolls toiled in obscurity for much of the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, they caught everyone’s attention with 1995’s “Name” off their “A Boy Named Goo” album. But it was 1998’s “Iris” from their album “Dizzy Up the Girl” and the “City of Angels” soundtrack that shot them to superstardom, and they have remained a fan favorite ever since, in no small part thanks to Rzeznik’s raspy voice.
  5. Stevie Nicks. Through both her tenure with Fleetwood Mac and her solo career, Nicks has become a highly-regarded musician and a popular singer with a raspy voice. She’s recorded a string of hits too innumerable to mention, capturing seven Grammy nominations along the way, winning one with Fleetwood Mac for their “Rumours” album. Nick’s signature raspy voice has made her songs hits and established her star in the music world.
  6. Brian Johnson (AC/DC). Johnson’s first album after joining AC/DC, “Back in Black,” is currently the second best-selling album ever and best-selling album by a band. That’s how much Johnson’s raspy voice contributed to AC/DC’s continued success, something that has continued to present day. In 2010, Johnson and AC/DC finally won a Grammy, after seven nominations, for the single “War Machine”.
  7. Tom Waits. Described as smoky, gravelly, husky, and raspy, Tom Waits has one of the most distinct raspy voices in music. His style crosses many genres and he can rasp his way through singing as easily and effectively as spoken word. He’s won two Grammy Awards for his albums “Bone Machine” and “Mule Variations”.
  8. Bonnie Tyler. Tyler is known in the U.S. primarily for two singles, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Holding Out for a Hero”. This hasn’t stopped her from being known as one of the best singers with raspy voices, however. Tyler’s two smash hits have withstood the test of time, especially “Total Eclipse,” and Tyler is often cited as the ultimate female raspy-voiced singer.
  9. Rod Stewart. No other performer, male or female, represents the best singers with raspy voices quite like Stewart. His career has spanned multiple hits and awards, and he has carved out a place for himself in music history with his soulful, bluesy, smoky voice. Next to singing, Stewart’s second most well-known ability has been the ability to woo models and actresses, with six of his seven serious relationships comprised of these elite professions.
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