Famous 20th Century Folk Singers

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 1 
John Denver
(Best Know for His Songs 'Rocky Mountain High', 'Take Me Home, Country Roads', and 'Annie's Song')
John Denver
10
Birthdate: December 31, 1943
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Roswell, New Mexico, United States
Died: October 12, 1997

John Denver was one of the highest-selling and most popular singers during the 1970s. He was known for folk, pop and country music. Some of his greatest songs are Take Me Home Country Roads, Leaving on a Jet Plane, Rocky Mountain High, Sunshine on My Shoulders and Annie's Song. He died when a plane he was piloting crashed in California.

 2 
Leonard Cohen
(One of the Most Accomplished Canadian Folk-Rock Singer-Songwriters of His Generation)
Leonard Cohen
7
Birthdate: September 21, 1934
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Westmount, Canada
Died: November 7, 2016

Leonard Cohen was one of the most popular Canadian celebrities of all time. After starting his career as a poet and novelist, Leonard went on to become a famous singer-songwriter, exploring themes like sexuality, religion, depression, and romantic relationships in his work. Leonard Cohen was one of the inspirations for Steven Clark and Matthew Bissonnette's 2002 film Looking for Leonard.

 3 
Joni Mitchell
(Famous for Her Studio Album 'Blue')
Joni Mitchell
15
Birthdate: November 7, 1943
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Fort Macleod, Canada

Joni Mitchell is one of the most popular Canadian singer-songwriters. Widely regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, her songs reflect her feelings about joy, romance, disillusionment, and confusion. Apart from being a musician, Joni is also a visual artist who designs most of her album covers. In fact, she calls herself a painter derailed by circumstance.  

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 4 
Tracy Chapman
(Known for Her Hit Singles 'Fast Car', 'Talkin' 'bout a Revolution' and 'Baby Can I Hold You')
Tracy Chapman
10
Birthdate: March 30, 1964
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

A four-time Grammy Award-winning artist, singer Tracy Chapman is best known for her hit single, Give Me One Reason. Interested in music from a young age, she learned to play multiple instruments as a child. She made her major-stage debut in 1985 and soon became a sensational hit. She is also known for her social activism.

 5 
Cat Stevens
(Singer and Multi-Instrumentalist Known for His Albums ‘Tea for the Tillerman’ and ‘Teaser and the Firecat’)
Cat Stevens
10
Birthdate: July 21, 1948
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, England, United Kingdom

British singer, Cat Stevens, has released more than 15 studio albums and has churned out many hit songs. He converted to Islam in 1977 and adopted the name Yusuf Islam. He was slammed for reportedly backing the death fatwa on author Salman Rushdie. He has also been accused of allegedly having ties with terrorist organisations, a charge he has vehemently denied.

 6 
Harry Belafonte
(Singer, Actor)
Harry Belafonte
6
Birthdate: March 1, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City, United States
 7 
Gordon Lightfoot
(Singer, Songwriter)
Gordon Lightfoot
6
Birthdate: November 17, 1938
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Orillia
Canadian folk-rock sensation Gordon Meredith Lightfoot Jr. is best known for his chart-topping tracks such as If You Could Read My Mind and Ribbon of Darkness. He set the tone for the folk-pop genre in the 1960s and 1970s. The 16-time Juno-winner has earned the Governor General's Performing Arts Award.
 8 
John Prine
(Known for an Often Humorous Style of Original Music That Has Elements of Protest and Social Commentary)
John Prine
4
Birthdate: October 10, 1946
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Maywood, Illinois, United States
Died: April 7, 2020
 9 
Woody Guthrie
(Singer-songwriter)
Woody Guthrie
5
Birthdate: July 14, 1912
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Okemah, Oklahoma, United States
Died: October 3, 1967
Legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie is best remembered for his songs such as This Land Is Your Land and Cocaine Blues, and the concept album Dust Bowl Ballads. He inspired artists such as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, and performed with a guitar labeled “This machine kills fascists.”
 10 
Townes Van Zandt
(Country Singer & Songwriter Best Known for His Songs: 'Pancho and Lefty' and 'For the Sake of the Song')
Townes Van Zandt
4
Birthdate: March 7, 1944
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Fort Worth, Texas, United States
Died: January 1, 1997

Country singer Townes Van Zandt is remembered for his melancholy and lyrical tracks. His hits such as Pancho and Lefty and To Live Is to Fly have influenced many artists of subsequent generations. He struggled with depression and spent a considerable part of his life in cheap shacks and motels.

 11 
Pete Seeger
(American Folk Singer Best-Known for His Songs: ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone?’ & ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’)
Pete Seeger
4
Birthdate: May 3, 1919
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City, United States
Died: January 27, 2014

Pete Seeger was an American social activist and folk singer. Seeger believed that the power of music could bring about a social change, an ideology that reflected on his works. Through his music, Seeger expressed his support towards counterculture, civil rights, environmental rights, international disarmament, and workers rights.

 12 
Arlo Guthrie
(Folk Singer Known for His Song 'Massachusetts', Which Became the Official Folk Song of the State)
Arlo Guthrie
4
Birthdate: July 10, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York City, United States
Folk singer Arlo Guthrie is known for his songs that have prominent social themes and talk about his anti-war sentiments or about social injustice. Two of his most popular tracks are Alice's Restaurant Massacree, Massachusetts, and City of New Orleans. He has also starred in films such as Alice's Restaurant.
 13 
Harry Chapin
(Singer Best Known for His Folk Rock & Pop Rock Songs)
Harry Chapin
5
Birthdate: December 7, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Greenwich Village, New York, United States
Died: July 16, 1981
Grammy-winning folk rock and pop rock singer Harry Chapin was one of the highest-paid artists of the 1970s, known for tracks such as Cat's in the Cradle. An avid philanthropist, he was part of the Presidential Commission on World Hunger. He also won a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal
 14 
Paul Simon
(American Singer-Songwriter)
Paul Simon
7
Birthdate: October 13, 1941
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States

One half of the popular musical duo Simon & Garfunkel, Paul Simon is a singer-songwriter, musician, and actor. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest guitarists and songwriters of all time. His career, which has spanned more than 60 years, has been so influential that Time named him among the 100 People Who Shaped the World in 2006.

 15 
Sandy Denny
(Legendary British Folk Rock Singer and Former Lead Singer of the Band ‘Fairport Convention’)
Sandy Denny
7
Birthdate: January 6, 1947
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London
Died: April 21, 1978

English singer-songwriter Sandy Denny, considered a leading British folk-rock singer, performed as lead-singer of the famous folk-rock band Fairport Convention, and fronted it through many of its successful albums like What We Did on Our Holidays. Other notable works of Denny includes her solo-albums like Rendezvous; and her folk-duet The Battle of Evermore with Robert Plant for Led Zeppelin's album.

 16 
Van Morrison
(Singer)
Van Morrison
4
Birthdate: August 31, 1945
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bloomfield, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Northern Irish singer, Van Morrison, garnered recognition in the 1960s while playing with the band, Them, and then later as a solo singer with the 1967 song Brown Eyed Girl. Over the years, he has released more than 40 albums. Astral Weeks, Moondance, Wavelength, Down the Road and Keep It Simple are some of his acclaimed and commercially successful albums.

 17 
Joan Chandos Baez
(Best Known for Her Songs "Diamonds & Rust," "We Shall Overcome" and "Joe Hill")
Joan Chandos Baez
6
Birthdate: January 9, 1941
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Staten Island, New York, United States

Singer, songwriter, musician, and activist Joan Baez has been active in the music world for over six decades. She emerged as a major musical figure in the counterculture era of the 1960s. Her music encompasses various genres like pop, folk-rock, country, and gospel music. She is involved in civil rights, human rights, and environmental activism as well.

 18 
Enya
(Irish Singer and Musician Known for Pioneering Modern 'Celtic' and 'New-Age' Music)
Enya
5
Birthdate: May 17, 1961
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland

Known for her unique blend of Celtic and folk tunes, Irish singer Enya has been dubbed the Queen of New Age. The Academy Award-nominated singer is also a 4-time Grammy winner and soared to fame with tracks such as Only Time and Orinoco Flow. She is the best-selling Irish solo artist ever.

 19 
Jim Croce
(Folk and Rock Singer Best Known for His Third album 'You Don't Mess Around with Jim')
Jim Croce
5
Birthdate: January 10, 1943
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: September 20, 1973

Jim Croce was an American rock and folk singer-songwriter. At the peak of his popularity, Jim Croce died in a plane crash at age 30. Many of his works were released posthumously and achieved popularity. Jim Croce's music has been used in many popular films, such as The Hangover Part II, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Hobbs & Shaw.

 20 
Richard Thompson
(Best Known as the Lead Guitarist and Songwriter of the Folk Fock Group 'Fairport Convention')
Richard Thompson
3
Birthdate: April 3, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Notting Hill Gate, London

Richard Thompson is an English guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He helped revive British folk music during the 1960s and 1970s by co-founding the folk rock band Fairport Convention where he performed as the lead guitarist and songwriter. One of his best-known songs, 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, was named in Time magazine's list of All Time 100 Songs.

 21 
Phil Ochs
(Singer)
Phil Ochs
3
Birthdate: December 19, 1940
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: El Paso, Texas, USA
Died: April 9, 1976
 22 
Donovan
(Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Composer, Autobiographer, Writer, Poet, Record producer, Film score composer)
Donovan
5
Birthdate: May 10, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland

Donovan is a Scottish guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is best known for developing and popularizing a distinctive and eclectic style that blended many genres, such as folk, jazz, pop, calypso, and psychedelic rock. Donovan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

 23 
Victor Garber
(Best Known for His Roles as 'Jack Bristow' in the Drama Series 'Alias' (2001–2006))
Victor Garber
6
Birthdate: March 16, 1949
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, Canada

Victor Garber is a Canadian singer and actor best known for his work in theatre, television, and film. Over the years, Garber has received nominations for several prestigious awards, such as Primetime Emmy Awards and Tony Awards. His work in critically acclaimed movies like Titanic, Argo, and Milk was also appreciated with Screen Actors Guild Award nominations.

 24 
Don McLean
(Singer-songwriter)
Don McLean
5
Birthdate: October 2, 1945
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New Rochelle, New York, United States
 25 
Sufjan Stevens
(Singer-songwriter most famous for his Illinois album, which includes the hit Chicago)
Sufjan Stevens
5
Birthdate: July 1, 1975
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States
 26 
Stephen Stills
(Singer-songwriter)
Stephen Stills
4
Birthdate: January 3, 1945
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, United States
 27 
Jewel
(Singer-Songwriter)
Jewel
14
Birthdate: May 23, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Payson, Utah, United States
 28 
Roberta Flack
4
Birthdate: February 10, 1939
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Black Mountain, North Carolina, United States
 29 
Tyler Childers
4
Birthdate: June 21, 1991
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lawrence County, Kentucky, United States
 30 
Nick Drake
(Singer-songwriter, Songwriter, Guitarist, Composer)
Nick Drake
5
Birthdate: June 19, 1948
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Yangon, Myanmar
Died: November 25, 1974

Nick Drake was a British singer-songwriter best remembered for his acoustic guitar-based music. Although he failed to achieve popularity during his lifetime, Drake's music has achieved recognition in recent times. He suffered from depression throughout his life and died at the age of 26 from an overdose of a prescribed antidepressant called amitriptyline.

 31 
Burl Ives
(American Musician, Actor and Folk Singer Known for His Hit 'A Little Bitty Tear')
Burl Ives
6
Birthdate: June 14, 1909
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hunt City, Illinois, United States
Died: April 14, 1995
 32 
Judy Collins
(Singer-songwriter)
Judy Collins
12
Birthdate: May 1, 1939
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, United States
 33 
Passenger
(English Singer-Songwriter and Musician Best Known for His Chart-Topping Song ‘Let Her Go’)
Passenger
7
Birthdate: May 17, 1984
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Brighton and Hove

English singer-songwriter and musician Michael David Rosenberg, well-known by his stage-name Passenger, has spawned several successful albums and singles. These includes the single Let Her Go that became a sleeper hit topping charts in sixteen countries and accumulating over 3.2 billion views on YouTube. Rosenberg was a co-founder, main-vocalist and songwriter of the now dissolved British folk-rock band called Passenger

 34 
Buffy Sainte-Marie
(Actor, Singer-songwriter, Visual artist, Record producer, Composer)
Buffy Sainte-Marie
5
Birthdate: February 20, 1941
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Piapot, Canada

Known for her music that showcases the issues of Native Americans, Canadian-American singer Buffy Sainte-Marie became the first person from any indigenous community to win an Oscar, with the song Up Where We Belong. She had also been blacklisted by many radio stations earlier due to her activism.

 35 
Janis Ian
(Singer, Songwriter, Musician & Author)
Janis Ian
4
Birthdate: April 7, 1951
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Farmingdale, New Jersey, United States
 36 
Sixto Rodriguez
(Detroit-based folk musician who released little-heard but influential folk music in the 1970's.)
Sixto Rodriguez
5
Birthdate: July 10, 1942
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States
 37 
Colbie Caillat
(Singer-songwriter)
Colbie Caillat
7
Birthdate: May 28, 1985
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Malibu, California, United States
 38 
Deborah Falconer
(Singer-songwriter and Ex-Wife of Robert Downey Jr.)
Deborah Falconer
11
Birthdate: August 13, 1965
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Sacramento, California, United States
Deborah Falconer has appeared in quite a few films, such as the comedy Pyrates and the biographical film The Doors. She also released music albums such as Untangle and Brave Like Me. She was previously married to actor Robert Downey Jr. and also had a son with him.
 39 
Peter Yarrow
(Singer-songwriter who found fame with the 1960s folk music trio Peter, Paul and Mary)
Peter Yarrow
3
Birthdate: May 31, 1938
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York, United States
 40 
Al Stewart
(Scottish Folk-Rock Musician Best Known for His Hit Single 'Year of the Cat')
Al Stewart
4
Birthdate: September 5, 1945
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Glasgow

Al Stewart is a Scottish folk-rock musician and singer-songwriter. He achieved popularity during the 1960s and 1970s and helped revive British folk music. He is best known for his single Year of the Cat, which became a hit worldwide. Over the course of his career, Al Stewart has worked with well-known musicians like Peter White, Jimmy Page, and Richard Thompson.

 41 
Tom Paxton
(Singer-songwriter, Singer, Musician, Guitarist, Writer)
Tom Paxton
4
Birthdate: October 31, 1937
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Chicago
 42 
Laura Marling
(Brit Award-Winning British Folk Singer-Songwriter Known for Albums like 'Song for Our Daughter')
Laura Marling
6
Birthdate: February 1, 1990
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: England

British folk singer-songwriter Laura Marling is noted for albums like I Speak Because I Can and Song for Our Daughter, which garnered her nomination for Mercury Music Prize. The latter and her sixth album, Semper Femina also earned her Grammy Award nomination for Best Folk Album. She has won the Brit Award for Best British Female Solo Artist in 2011.

 43 
Loudon Wainwright III
(Singer, Actor, Singer-songwriter, Film actor, Television actor, Guitarist)
Loudon Wainwright III
3
Birthdate: September 5, 1946
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
 44 
Roger McGuinn
(Musician)
Roger McGuinn
5
Birthdate: July 13, 1942
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA
 45 
Blaze Foley
(Singer-songwriter)
Blaze Foley
3
Birthdate: December 18, 1949
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Malvern, Arkansas, United States
Died: February 1, 1989
 46 
Tom T. Hall
(Singer)
Tom T. Hall
3
Birthdate: May 25, 1936
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Olive Hill, Kentucky, USA
 47 
Ralph McTell
(English Singer-Songwriter and Guitarist Known for His Hit Song 'Streets of London')
Ralph McTell
3
Birthdate: December 3, 1944
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Farnborough, Kent, England

English singer and guitarist Ralph McTell is best known for his contribution to English folk music. He soared to fame with his chartbusting hit Streets of London. The singer has also hosted children’s programs such as Alphabet Zoo. Interestingly, he had started his career as a teacher, before switching to music.

 48 
Ray LaMontagne
7
Birthdate: June 18, 1973
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Nashua, New Hampshire, USA
 49 
Jerry Jeff Walker
(Singer-Songwriter)
Jerry Jeff Walker
3
Birthdate: March 16, 1942
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Oneonta, New York, United States
 50 
Roger Whittaker
(British Musician and Singer Known for His Trademark Whistling Ability, Baritone Singing Voice, and Guitar Skills)
Roger Whittaker
4
Birthdate: March 22, 1936
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nairobi, Kenya

Roger Whittaker is a British musician and singer-songwriter. Best known for his trademark whistling ability, baritone singing voice, and guitar skills, Whittaker is one of the best-selling artistes in the UK. Roger Whittaker forsook his teaching career to establish himself as a musician, a decision which he has never regretted.