I’m not talking singer/songwriters, and and this isn’t a definitive list. I’m not going by the critics or anything. These are just my personal favorites.
1. Patsy Cline — Wow, what heartache, what passion, what drama she brought to those songs. She could be sassy in one song and melancholy in the next. She was incredible. Must hear: “Walkin’ After Midnight” and “I Fall to Pieces” (“Crazy” is just a given!)
2. Jane Monheit — The first song I ever heard by her was her rendition of “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most.” I was flipping through the channels on the cable music stations, and I stopped what I was doing and just sat there and listened. She has the purest voice of anyone I’ve ever heard. I’ve been lucky enough to see her live as well, and she’s just as incredible. Listen to the song I previously mentioned and her version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” but make sure it’s from Come Dream with Me or The Very Best of Jane Monheit. She did do a different rendition for the movie Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, but it’s not as magical.
3. Martina McBride — Talk about a powerful voice. I get chills hearing her sing a ballad. Listen to “How Far” and get back to me!
4. Trisha Yearwood — Her voice is powerful as well, but in a bluesy and honkytonk sort of way. She sells the melancholy songs too. Listen to “On a Bus to St. Cloud” or (ironically enough) “Melancholy Blue.”
5. Amy Lee (Evanescence) — That’s right a rock chick. Her voice is pure and haunting, and she can sell angst and sadness ten times better than those pathetic faux punk bands that whine incessantly. Must hear: “My Immortal”