Famous 20th Century Folk Singers

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 John Denver

John Denver.
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter & Musician
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

Leonard Cohen.
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 21, 1934
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Westmount
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.

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 3 Gordon Lightfoot

Gordon Lightfoot.
4
Famous As: Singer, Songwriter
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.

 4 Harry Belafonte

Harry Belafonte.
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Famous As: Singer, Actor, Stage actor
Birthdate: March 1, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Harlem

 5 Townes Van Zandt

Townes Van Zandt.
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Famous As: Singer & Songwriter
Birthdate: March 7, 1944
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Fort Worth, Texas
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.

 6 Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie.
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
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.”

 7 Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger.
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Famous As: American singer
Birthdate: May 3, 1919
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Manhattan
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.

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 8 Arlo Guthrie

Arlo Guthrie.
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: July 10, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York
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.

 9 Harry Chapin

Harry Chapin.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: December 7, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York City
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

 10 Sandy Denny

Sandy Denny
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Singer, Songwriter
Birthdate: January 6, 1947
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London
Died: April 21, 1978

 11 Richard Thompson

Richard Thompson.
3
Famous As: Musician, Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: April 3, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Notting Hill Gate, London

 12 Cass Elliot

Cass Elliot.
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: September 19, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland
Died: July 29, 1974

Cass Elliot was a popular American singer and actress. As part of the famous folk-rock vocal group The Mamas and the Papas, Cass Elliot played an important role in influencing the counterculture of the 1960s and its music scene. She had a great impact on the American entertainment industry of the 1960s.

 13 Phil Ochs

Phil Ochs
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: December 19, 1940
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: El Paso, Texas, USA
Died: April 9, 1976

 14 Agnetha Faltskog

Agnetha Faltskog.
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Famous As: Swedish musician
Birthdate: April 5, 1950
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Jönköping, Sweden
Swedish singer Agnetha Fältskog was part of the iconic pop group ABBA, along with her husband, Bjorn Ulvaeus. After the group disbanded, Fältskog launched a solo career and also appeared in a film. She released an album in 2004, after a 16-year hiatus, and then again in 2013.

 15 James Blunt

James Blunt.
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Birthdate: February 22, 1974
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tidworth, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom
Five-time Grammy nominee James Blunt topped international charts with his single You're Beautiful. His album Back to Bedlam recorded the highest sales in the U.K. in the 2000s. He is also concerned about climate change and is known for screening the environmental documentary An Inconvenient Truth before his concerts.

 16 Pernell Roberts

Pernell Roberts.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 18, 1928
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Waycross, Georgia
Died: January 24, 2010
Pernell Roberts is best known as Adam Cartwright from the Western series Bonanza and Dr. John McIntyre from Trapper John, MD. He was also a prominent social activist and had participated in protests such as the Selma to Montgomery marches. He also narrated documentaries and experimented as a singer.

 17 K. D. Lang

K. D. Lang.
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Famous As: Singer, Songwriter
Birthdate: November 2, 1961
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Grammy-winning Canadian pop and country singer Kathryn Dawn Lang, better known as K.D. Lang, has delivered hits such as Constant Craving. She is openly lesbian and a champion for LGBT rights and animal rights. She performed at the 1988 Winter Olympics closing ceremony and the 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

 18 Nelly Furtado

Nelly Furtado.
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Birthdate: December 2, 1978
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Victoria

Nelly Furtado is a Portuguese-Canadian record producer and singer-songwriter. Known for her constant reinvention and musical versatility, Furtado is one of the most successful musical artists from Canada, having sold more than 40 million records. Her work has also inspired fellow musicians like Dua Lipa and Bridgit Mendler. Also a philanthropist, Furtado is a member of Artists Against Racism charity.

 19 Nick Drake

Nick Drake
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Songwriter, Guitarist, Composer
Birthdate: June 19, 1948
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Yangon, Myanmar
Died: November 25, 1974

 20 Stephen Stills

Stephen Stills
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 3, 1945
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, United States

 21 Burl Ives

Burl Ives
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Famous As: American singer
Birthdate: June 14, 1909
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hunt City Township, Illinois, United States
Died: April 14, 1995

 22 Passenger

Passenger
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Famous As: musician, singer-songwriter, singer
Birthdate: May 17, 1984
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Brighton and Hove

 23 Aimee Mann

Aimee Mann.
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Famous As: Alternative Artist
Birthdate: September 8, 1960
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Richmond

Aimee Mann is an American singer and songwriter whose song Save Me, which she recorded for the soundtrack of the film Magnolia, earned her a Grammy Award and Academy Award nomination. Apart from being a singer and songwriter, Aimee Mann has also made several appearances on film and television. She also appears on the albums of other artists.

 24 Judy Collins

Judy Collins
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Famous As: Singer, Street artist, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist, Pianist
Birthdate: May 1, 1939
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Seattle

 25 Suzanne Vega

Suzanne Vega
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Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: July 11, 1959
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Santa Monica, California, United States

 26 Ralph McTell

Ralph McTell
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Famous As: Guitarist, Songwriter, Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: December 3, 1944
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Farnborough

 27 Andrea Corr

Andrea Corr.
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: May 17, 1974
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dundalk

Andrea Corr is an Irish singer, musician, songwriter, actress, and author. She is part of the popular Celtic pop-rock and folk-rock group The Corrs, where she plays the ukulele, piano, and tin whistle apart from being the lead singer. Also a humanitarian, Andrea Corr takes part in several charitable activities to raise money for various causes.

 28 Jack Savoretti

Jack Savoretti
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Famous As: Singer, Pianist
Birthdate: October 10, 1983
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London

 29 Tom Paxton

Tom Paxton
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Singer, Musician, Guitarist, Writer
Birthdate: October 31, 1937
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Chicago

 30 Janis Ian

Janis Ian.
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Famous As: Singer, Songwriter, Musician & Author
Birthdate: April 7, 1951
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bronx

 31 Demis Roussos

Demis Roussos
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Famous As: Vocalist
Birthdate: June 15, 1946
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Alexandria, Egypt
Died: January 25, 2015

 32 Maddy Prior

Maddy Prior
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: August 14, 1947
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Blackpool

 33 Al Stewart

Al Stewart
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Singer, Songwriter
Birthdate: September 5, 1945
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Glasgow

 34 Laura Marling

Laura Marling
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Singer
Birthdate: February 1, 1990
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: England

 35 Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash.
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Famous As: Country Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: February 26, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kingsland, Arkansas, United States
Died: September 12, 2003

Johnny Cash, the American singer, songwriter and actor, was known for sorrow, moral suffering and redemption themes in his music. His genre was country, rock and roll, blues, folk and gospel sounds and he is one of the best-selling artists of all time. Cash had issues with drinking and drug abuse. Later he was diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease.

 36 Wilmer Valderrama

Wilmer Valderrama.
0
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 30, 1980
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Miami, Florida
Wilmer Valderrama is best known for his Teen Choice Award-winning performance as Fez in That '70s Show. He has played prominent roles in NCIS, Grey's Anatomy, and The Ranch. He has also hosted the MTV series Yo Momma, released a single, and appeared in numerous music videos.

 37 Lianne La Havas

Lianne La Havas
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Singer, Pianist, Songwriter, Musician, Guitarist
Birthdate: August 23, 1989
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London

 38 Jagjit Singh

Jagjit Singh.
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Famous As: Ghazal Singer
Birthdate: February 8, 1941
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Sri Ganganagar
Died: October 10, 2011

Jagjit Singh was an Indian singer, musician, and composer. Nicknamed King of Ghazals, Jagjit Singh is credited with reviving and popularizing an Indian classical art form called ghazal. Regarded as one of the most influential artists in India, Singh was honored with India's third-highest civilian award Padma Bhushan in 2003.  He was also honored with other awards like Lata Mangeshkar Samman.

 39 Utah Phillips

Utah Phillips
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Famous As: Musician, Poet, Street artist, Singer-songwriter, Trade unionist
Birthdate: May 15, 1935
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cleveland
Died: May 23, 2008

 40 Paul Stookey

Paul Stookey
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Famous As: Musician, Singer, Singer-songwriter, Guitarist
Birthdate: December 30, 1937
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Greenwich Village

 41 Justin Vernon

Justin Vernon
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: April 30, 1981
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Eau Claire, Wisconsin, United States

 42 Dave Guard

Dave Guard
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Famous As: Singer, Banjoist, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist
Birthdate: October 19, 1934
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: San Francisco
Died: March 22, 1991

 43 Luke Kelly

Luke Kelly
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: November 17, 1940
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sheriff Street, Dublin, Ireland
Died: January 30, 1984

 44 Stan Rogers

Stan Rogers
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Famous As: Songwriter, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Singer
Birthdate: November 29, 1949
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hamilton
Died: June 2, 1983

 45 Dave Van Ronk

Dave Van Ronk
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Famous As: Guitarist, Singer, Jazz musician, Trade unionist
Birthdate: June 30, 1936
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: February 20, 2002

 46 Falguni Pathak

Falguni Pathak
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Famous As: singer, composer
Birthdate: March 12, 1964
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vadodara

Known as the Dandiya Queen, Falguni Pathak rocked the 1990s with her chartbusting tracks such as Chudi Jo Khanki Haathon Mein, which still light up Navratri celebrations in India. She is also known for her signature androgynous looks. Though she’s based in Mumbai, her songs reflect the Gujarati folk culture.

 47 Ewan MacColl

Ewan MacColl
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: January 25, 1915
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Broughton, Salford, England
Died: October 22, 1989

 48 Steve Tilston

Steve Tilston
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: March 26, 1950
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Liverpool

 49 Ronnie Lane

Ronnie Lane
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Famous As: Musician, Singer-songwriter, Guitarist
Birthdate: April 1, 1946
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Plaistow
Died: July 4, 1997

 50 Ella Edmondson

Ella Edmondson
5
Famous As: Singer, Singer-songwriter, Guitarist
Birthdate: January 22, 1986
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hammersmith