7.5 01. Al Jolson
Quite possibly one of the greatest entertainers of the last century, Jolson's distinctive charisma and character are instantly fetching. His ability to sing silly tunes and immediately do a complete 180 and belt out a beautiful ballad was amazing. He simply commanded the stage with his beautiful (if not sometimes ridiculous!) voice and funny business.
He had more than admirable talent in singing, entertaining and acting, and the world will never see another like Jolson.
Warning: Video contains blackface at about 3:00.
8.6 02. Freddie Mercury
In some ways similar to Al Jolson, Mercury had an amazing ability to charm his audiences and listeners with his extraordinary charisma. He had a powerful voice with a beautiful range and versatility. Never have I seen a singer with as much energy and power.
Mercury sang and recorded music even when he was clearly dying of AIDS. His last recorded work was two weeks before his death. Not just for his extraordinary talent, Mercury should be remembered for his great bravery and ability.
6 03. The Boswell Sisters
Though Connee Boswell is the most mentioned, all three sisters were excellent harmonizers with voices that blended together effortlessly. They were always so tight that they almost seemed like one single entity.
Their crooning started a new generation of female jazz groups and singers, but are (in my opinion) the best.
7.7 04. David Bowie
Though perhaps lacking the sheer talent in singing as the previous, Bowie has a voice of such versatility and of so many genres. (Don't get me wrong, his voice still is quite strong.) He has sang folk, rock, electronica, soul, R&B, pop and everything in between without a moment where he didn't seem comfortable. I doubt I'll ever hear another with a voice like his.
9 05. Lee Morse
Though she had a sweet face, Lee Morse's husky voice and sometimes rather unfeminine character gave her the bawdiness and independence of the 1920s woman. Her personality can be felt in every song, and what a personality she had. Of course, her voice was beautiful; I should not leave that out.
7.7 06. Ruth Etting
While there is debate over how Etting ranks among other jazz singers of her era, I have always found her voice to be stunning. She puts her soul and emotion into every song, and has the utmost control over every twist she puts into the notes.
7.5 07. Eddie Cantor
Often compared to Jolson, Cantor may not have had the booming powerful voice (though his singing was quite strong), but easily matches in character and cleverness.
It seems that nowadays it is hard to find music artists with a gleaming personality that shines through while listening, but Cantor makes it seem so easy. It's hard to not fall in love with Banjo Eyes.
8 08. George Formby
The squeaky voiced, meek, innuendo-fueled, ukulele plucking George Formby may not have had the voice of an accomplished vocalist, but his sheer wit, charisma and good nature is delightful to listen to (perhaps with some help from that thick Lancashire accent). He's one of the most lovable music personalities, and even more charming on screen. I'll be honest: George Formby is out of this world adorable. :)
7.8 09. Klaus Nomi
Certainly not lacking in originality, Klaus Nomi was a dynamic pop cult icon of the late 70s and 80s. He was probably the first (and still few) who combined pop and opera in an interesting mix. His appearance is just as strange as the music, to say the least.
Nomi's falsetto, almost Castrati-like countertenor voice was both beautiful and outrageous, quite fitting to his alien persona. Nomi's character is simply difficult to describe in words, but he certainly leaves quite an impression.
7.9 010. Josephine Baker
No matter what language she sings, her voice is silky smooth and classy, while still full of the spunk and independence that Baker so easily exudes. Her voice is as beautiful as her face, and I am a firm believer she was one of the most beautiful women of her time.
6.8 011. Cab Calloway
Cab Calloway was the epitome of cool. He was coolness in essence. I dare anyone to name a man cooler than Calloway. He's so full of energy and charisma it's impossible to take your eyes off him.
His voice was powerful and loud, really like his music. He was an amazing entertainer, musician and it should be mentioned, an outstanding dancer.
8 012. Lucille Bogan
It was difficult for me not to add Bogan. She was a bawdy, lewd, vulgar lady prone to songs about booze, prostitution, sex (with both genders) and language that would make George Carlin blush. And God knows I love her for it. When you listen to her, it's easy to tell she's having a blast.
I couldn't find any videos of her performing, so here is her most famous song. It's certainly a curiousity. For your pleasure, the lyrics are posted in the description of the video.
Warning: The entire song is explicit lyrics.
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