This is a tough category for me - I'm really not much of a singer, but there are people who really make me wish I could. Part of the issue is separating pure vocal ability from that frontman persona.
There are numerous examples of powerful singers who make me stand up and take notice - David Bowie, Meat Loaf, Sarah McLachlan, Jill Sobule, Roger Daltrey, Mike Keneally, Adele. But for pure vocal ability, these are the ones.
Kate Bush. She's one of those artists that just seems to have no artistic fear and has done so many different things with her voice. She'll go from powerful belting to an almost novelty-type screech to a character voice. So many classic performances, but one of the most impressive to me was the album she did where she used the Trio Bulgarka. They have a way of singing with no vibrato, and she learned to do that and did harmonies like them so well that if you don't look at the credits, you can't tell which ones are her and which are the Trio.
This is one of my all-time favorites of hers. If you've seen the movie "She's Having A Baby", the use of this song is perhaps a bit cliched, but powerful. The video somewhat apes that scene. I wish she'd release her videos on DVD.
But I'm not sure they come much more inspiring or better than Freddie Mercury. I'm not sure I've heard a better singer than him. Gone way, way too soon. But what a voice. This may not be the best example, but it is part of what is possibly the most powerful performance I've ever seen - for a guy who was told he probably shouldn't sing that day, nobody came close to Queen in terms of owning the stage that day. I still get chills watching the crowd do the clap like in the video.
Kate Bush has been one of my favorites...
So has Johnette Napolitano
My most inspiring singer is Liz Larin, a Detroit based artist I've worked with quite a lot. I often write for her voice.
Her she is performing one of her songs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEkFhzqn8GA
One great thing about Liz is that she can sing in any style, and has a huge range.
Really into Beth Hart at the moment...
Here she is with one Jeff Beck:
I'm with you Mike, Beth Hart. I kinda miss her skunk-stripe in her hair, but that's just "Pepe le Pew" in me. Beth puts it ALL out there everytime she has a mic in front of her. I keep looping her performance with Joe Bonamassa @ the Beacon DVD. There is a ton of great YouTube vid's of her out there.
That's how I got into her. I knew she'd done the don't explain album with JB but i'd skipped it until I got the Beacon DVD and was blown away! Great stage presence and a faultless voice!
Originally Posted by crgtr
Freddie Mercury hands down in my book...the strength of his voice brings chills...saw few times in late 70s and 80s and was unbeleivable in concert...
Bob Hatfield, Myles Kennedy, Adele, Tupac Shakur
Guys - Michael Jackson, Daniel Gildenlow (Pain of Salvation), Andreas Novak (Mind's Eye)
Ladies - Regina Spektor, Esperanza Spalding