Folk Singers

Different countries all across the globe offer a different musical flavor with folk music keeping the essence of each culture alive. Folk singers are regional singers who represent the culture and tradition of a region and have been carrying it forward for centuries. Evolving since 20th century, folk singers have kept history alive and today their music is gaining even more popularity. Historically, singing during work and carrying out chores, Folk singers did not have a traditional book to pass on these songs. However, eventually some of them created albums and CDs to find a wider audience. In nations where there are many immigrants, Folk Singers pass on their culture to the younger generation like the Punjabi Canadians and Greek Australians. Their songs are today considered important piece of art and are slowly being reinvented for the present day audiences. From India to China and from the Balkans to the Celtics, every country and region has their own folk singers and music which is a reminder of home and family. Folk singers have made it possible to keep our roots alive and cherish the music which is our own. Enter this site to read more about famous Folk Singers. Discover interesting trivia, life histories and facts from their biographies.

More From 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
(Best Know for His Songs 'Rocky Mountain High', 'Take Me Home, Country Roads', and 'Annie's Song')

John Denver
7
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
(Singer-songwriter)

Leonard Cohen
6
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
11
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.  

 4 
Tracy Chapman
(Singer-songwriter)

Tracy Chapman
7
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.

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 5 
Cat Stevens
(Singer-songwriter)

Cat Stevens
5
Birthdate: July 21, 1948
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, England

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
5
Birthdate: March 1, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City, United States

 7 
Gordon Lightfoot
(Singer, Songwriter)

Gordon Lightfoot
5
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.
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 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
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 9 
Woody Guthrie
(Singer-songwriter)

Woody Guthrie
4
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
(Singer & Songwriter)

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
(Singer)

Pete Seeger
4
Birthdate: May 3, 1919
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Manhattan, 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
(Singer-songwriter)

Arlo Guthrie
4
Birthdate: July 10, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Coney Island, New York, 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.
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 13 
Harry Chapin
(Singer)

Harry Chapin
4
Birthdate: December 7, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, 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 
Judy Collins
(Singer-songwriter)

Judy Collins
10
Birthdate: May 1, 1939
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, United States
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 15 
Shawn Mendes
(Singer & Songwriter)

Shawn Mendes
8
Birthdate: August 8, 1998
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Pickering, Canada

Canadian pop singer Shawn Mendes is known for catchy and soulful folk-pop songs. Stitches, Treat You Better, There's Nothing Holding Me Back, In My Blood, If I Can't Have You and Senorita are some of his popular and chartbuster songs. He was named by the Time Magazine in 2018 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

 16 
Sandy Denny
(Singer-songwriter, Singer, Songwriter)

Sandy Denny
6
Birthdate: January 6, 1947
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London
Died: April 21, 1978

 17 
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.

 18 

Joan Chandos Baez
5
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.

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 19 
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.

 20 
Art Garfunkel
(Singer, Actor)

Art Garfunkel
5
Birthdate: November 5, 1941
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Forest Hills, New York, United States
Eight-time Grammy winner Art Garfunkel is part of the folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel, along with Paul Simon. He has had a successful solo career, too. One of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, he also earned a Golden Globe nomination for playing Sandy in Carnal Knowledge.
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 21 
Richard Thompson
(Musician, Singer-Songwriter)

Richard Thompson
3
Birthdate: April 3, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Notting Hill Gate, London

 22 
Jim Croce
(Singer-songwriter)

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.

 23 
Hozier
(Irish Singer-Songwriter)

Hozier
4
Birthdate: March 17, 1990
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bray, Ireland
Irish blues/rock singer Hozier is best known for his track Take Me to Church, which became a Billboard Hot 100-charter and rocked the charts of several other countries apart from Ireland, such as Belgium and Canada. His songs exhibit religious imagery. He was previously part of the choral group Anúna.

 24 
Phil Ochs
(Singer)

Phil Ochs
3
Birthdate: December 19, 1940
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: El Paso, Texas, USA
Died: April 9, 1976
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 25 
George Ezra
(Guitarist)

George Ezra
6
Birthdate: June 7, 1993
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hertford, Hertfordshire, England

George Ezra is an English guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He achieved popularity after releasing his debut album Wanted on Voyage, which peaked at number one in the UK. It was also one of the best-selling albums in the UK in the year 2014. In 2019, George Ezra was honored with the Brit Award under the British Male Solo Artist category.

 26 
Emmylou Harris
(Singer-songwriter)

Emmylou Harris
4
Birthdate: April 2, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Birmingham, Alabama, United States

Emmylou Harris is an American musician, singer, and songwriter. Apart from being a bandleader, a solo artist, and an interpreter of other artists' works, Harris is also an activist; since 1999, she has been conducting Concerts for a Landmine Free World, an annual benefit tour. She is also an ardent supporter of animal rights organizations, such as PETA.

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 27 
Victor Garber
(Actor, Singer)

Victor Garber
5
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.

 28 
Sufjan Stevens
(Singer-songwriter most famous for his Illinois album, which includes the hit Chicago)

Sufjan Stevens
4
Birthdate: July 1, 1975
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States

 29 
Donovan
(Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Composer, Autobiographer, Writer, Poet, Record producer, Film score composer)

Donovan
4
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.

 30 
Joanna Newsom
(Multi-instrumentalist, Singer-songwriter)

Joanna Newsom
9
Birthdate: January 18, 1982
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Grass Valley, California, United States

Joanna Newsom is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and actress. Noted for her unique musical style, Newsom's early work was influenced by polyrhythms. She is one of the most important members of the modern freak folk and psychedelic folk movement. Newsom is also noted for her songwriting, which incorporates elements of avant-garde modernism and Appalachian music.

 31 
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.

 32 
Jewel
(Singer-Songwriter)

Jewel
12
Birthdate: May 23, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Payson, Utah, United States

 33 
Deborah Ryan
(Actress, Singer)

Deborah Ryan
13
Birthdate: May 13, 1993
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Huntsville, Alabama

Deborah Ryan is an American singer and actress who started her career as a child artist before going on to establish herself as a successful adult actress in the TV and film industry. A multi-talented personality, Ryan can also play the guitar, keyboard, and piano. Also a well-known philanthropist, Ryan has been working on various causes, such as ocean conservation.

 34 
Don McLean
(Singer-songwriter)

Don McLean
4
Birthdate: October 2, 1945
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New Rochelle, New York, United States

 35 
Jason Mraz
(Guitarist, Singer-songwriter)

Jason Mraz
4
Birthdate: June 23, 1977
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mechanicsville, Virginia, United States
Guitarist and singer Jason Mraz is known for his Billboard-charting tracks such as The Remedy (I Won't Worry) and I'm Yours. The two-time Grammy-winning artist is highly influenced by Brazilian music. He has launched The Jason Mraz Foundation and is associated with causes such as human rights and LGBT equality.

 36 
Avi Kaplan
(Singer-Songwriter)

Avi Kaplan
4
Birthdate: April 17, 1989
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Visalia, California
Avi Kaplan gained fame as part of the three-time Grammy-winning a cappella group Pentatonix, as their designated vocal bass. He later went solo with the EP Sage and Stone under the name "Avriel & the Sequoias." In 2019, he released the track Change on the Rise, as "Avi Kaplan."

 37 
Stephen Stills
(Singer-songwriter)

Stephen Stills
4
Birthdate: January 3, 1945
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, United States

 38 
Vera Lynn
(Singer, Entertainer whose musical recordings, performances were very popular during the Second World War)

Vera Lynn
4
Birthdate: March 20, 1917
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Essex, England, United Kingdom
Died: June 18, 2020

 39 

Tyler Childers
4
Birthdate: June 21, 1991
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lawrence County, Kentucky, United States

 40 
Burl Ives
(American singer)

Burl Ives
5
Birthdate: June 14, 1909
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hunt City Township, Illinois, United States
Died: April 14, 1995

 41 

Roberta Flack
4
Birthdate: February 10, 1939
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Black Mountain, North Carolina, United States

 42 
Passenger
(musician, singer-songwriter, singer)

Passenger
5
Birthdate: May 17, 1984
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Brighton and Hove

 43 
Regina Spektor
(Singer-Songwriter)

Regina Spektor
5
Birthdate: February 18, 1980
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

 44 
Garrett Morris
(Comedian)

Garrett Morris
4
Birthdate: February 1, 1937
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Garrett Morris is best known as part of Saturday Night Live, where he played characters such as Chico Escuela and the News for the Hard of Hearing translator. He also played Uncle Junior on The Jamie Foxx Show and Earl Washington in 2 Broke Girls.

 45 
Lead Belly
(Folk and blues singer)

Lead Belly
4
Birthdate: January 23, 1888
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Mooringsport, Louisiana, United States
Died: December 6, 1949

 46 

Dimash Kudaibergen
4
Birthdate: May 24, 1994
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Aktobe, Kazakhstan

 47 
Alec Benjamin
(Singer-Songwriter)

Alec Benjamin
3
Birthdate: May 28, 1994
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Phoenix, Arizona, United States

 48 
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.

 49 
Janis Ian
(Singer, Songwriter, Musician & Author)

Janis Ian
4
Birthdate: April 7, 1951
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Farmingdale, New Jersey, United States

 50 
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