I’ve kept meaning to complete this list of my top twenty favourite male vocalists, so here it is finally. Great male vocalists these days are rare, hence why the vast majority of them in this list are not current, although there are the odd few who are really great singers. Again, these guys have made the list and been ranked according to their tonal quality, their range, techniques and live performances.
1) Stevie Wonder
An absolutely sublime vocalist as well as a musical genius who writes his lyrics, composes his own music and plays his own instruments – while obviously being blind, Stevie is a legend to be in awe of. This man has loads of energy – especially for someone who barely moves on the stage throughout his shows – as well as lots of soul and a great voice with an incredible range – and not just for man.
2) Marvin Gaye
Marvin was the ultimate man of sexy soul. He had a rich, deep and sultry voice and sounded most comfortable his lower register but just as great in his upper register too.
3) Freddie Mercury
The only white and British man to make it into the top ten, Freddie Mercury deserves this spot. He had a fantastically soulful, yet rocky voice that was clear and resonated well, sometimes almost quite operatic; another all-round musical genius.
4) Otis Redding
Otis had a smooth and very soulful voice that was relaxing and pleasant to listen to, who rarely pushed his voice past its limits or too its extremes like many vocalists do.
5) James Brown
James Brown wasn’t called the Godfather of Soul for nothing. This man had so much charisma and vigour throughout his long career and a gritty, soulful voice that made him stand out from his peers who had smoother, more refined and restrained vocals. He loved to improvise and was great at doing so, similar to Ella Fitzgerald.
6) Ray Charles
Ray Charles, like Stevie is, was blind yet another musical prodigy with similar vocal stylings to him and James Brown, but largely stuck to a more jazz and blues repertoire and was one of the great pioneers who introduced soul music to the masses in the 1950s.
7) BeBe Winans
With a voice and style heavily rooted in gospel, BeBe came from a very musical family, and although he may not be as well known as the others by many, he certainly should be. You’ll probably recognise him and his voice when he featured on Eternal’s single “I Wanna Be The Only One”.
8) Cee Lo Green
The youngest singer in the top ten, Cee Lo is definitely the best male vocalist out there right now. With a great, Motown-inspired voice and sound that is very reminiscent of many soul legends that he is influenced by, Cee Lo isn’t a coach on “The Voice” for no reason, because this guy knows how to sing and is able to sound old-school whilst also current at the same time.
9) Al Green
Al Green (not related to Cee Lo, which is not his real name anyway, but perhaps derived from Al), has another soul-enriched voice with an astounding and expansive vocal range that sounds great from his smooth, warm depths to its sweet, crisp highs. Although he had a wide vocal range, he knew how and when to unleash and restrain it.
10) Sam Cooke
Not many people today will know who Sam Cooke is but sure as hell should. Sam had exquisite control of sweet, smooth and soulful voice that meant his abilities were comparable to that of Aretha Franklin in terms of things like dynamics, phrasing tuning it to match the style of music being sung.