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folk music The Best Folk Bands/Artists

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Folk music is one of the most renowned genres of music in the world. Every country has its own version and derivative of the genre, which is broad in its appeal. But what makes the best folk singers and folk music artists resonate with listeners. The message reflected in folk music artist's songs is originally supposed to come from folklore, hence the name, but as of late, folk songs have retained a more populist message, with the genre's mainstream pinnacle coming in the 1960s. Usually, folk singers and folk bands play acoustic instruments.

So, who are the best folk music artists and best folk singers? That's not an easy question to answer. But if you're a fan of folk music, you'll know that artists like Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell deserve to be at or near the top of this list of folk music bands. This list should include all folk music bands, including the most popular folk musicians and folk singers, and if you notice this isn't the case, feel free to add them to this list. All of the best folk music artists need to be accounted for, and the goal of this list of folk music bands is to do exactly that.

That said it's up to you to decide who are the best folk music artists and best folk singers. This list answers the questions "who are the best folk music bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest folk music musician ever?" If you know enough about the genre, please vote based on the quality of the band's music instead of just voting for the most popular folk music bands that you might've heard of. (286 items)

1
+ - 57 15
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Bob Dylan Blues-rock, Rock music Folk music

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2
+ - 50 20
Joni Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music Folk jazz

3
+ - 39 12
Leonard Cohen is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Leonard Cohen Synthpop, Pop music Spoken word

4
+ - 29 8
Woody Guthrie is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Woody Guthrie Folk music, Country

5
+ - 45 23
Joan Baez is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Joan Baez Americana, Pop music Rock music

6
+ - 45 25
Jim Croce is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Jim Croce Pop music, Rock music Folk music

7
+ - 16 2
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock Grunge

8
+ - 39 21
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music Folk music

9
+ - 38 24
John Denver is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
John Denver Western music, Pop music Traditional music

10
+ - 13 2
Richard Thompson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Richard Thompson Rock music, Folk music Electric folk

11
+ - 28 16
John Prine is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
John Prine Folk music, Progressive bluegrass Country

12
+ - 22 11
John Sebastian is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
John Sebastian Pop music, Rock music Folk music

13
+ - 14 4
Donovan is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Donovan British Invasion, Psychedelic folk Psychedelic pop

14
+ - 20 10
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Kris Kristofferson Outlaw country, Rock music Folk music

15
+ - 23 13
Amy Macdonald is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Amy Macdonald Pop music, Rock music Folk music

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16
+ - 25 15
Tanita Tikaram is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Tanita Tikaram Pop music, Folk music

17
+ - 11 2
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Carole King Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul Pop music

18
+ - 12 3
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco Pop music

19
+ - 18 9
Loudon Wainwright III is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Loudon Wainwright III Rock music, Folk music Blues

20
+ - 19 10
Lucinda Williams is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Lucinda Williams Americana, Heartland rock Rock music

21
+ - 21 12
Joan Armatrading is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Joan Armatrading Pop music, Rock music Folk music

22
+ - 9 1
The Incredible String Band is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
The Incredible String Band Psychedelic folk, World music

23
+ - 10 2
Rickie Lee Jones is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Rickie Lee Jones Rock music, Rhythm and blues Rock and roll

24
+ - 10 2
Roy Harper is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Roy Harper Rock music, Folk music Folk rock

25
+ - 17 9
Marianne Faithfull is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Marianne Faithfull Pop music, Rock music Folk music

26
+ - 17 9
Janis Ian is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Janis Ian Adult contemporary music, Folk music

27
+ - 18 10
Jorma Kaukonen is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Jorma Kaukonen Rock music, Folk music Psychedelic rock

28
+ - 18 10
José González is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
José González Folk music, Indie folk Indie rock

29
+ - 19 11
Joanna Newsom is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Joanna Newsom Folk music, Folk Experimental music

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30
+ - 20 12
Linda Ronstadt is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Linda Ronstadt New Wave, Rock music Latin American music

31
+ - 24 16
Dixie Chicks is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Dixie Chicks Country pop, Pop music Rock music

32
+ - 9 2
Pentangle is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Pentangle Electric folk, Folk jazz Folk rock

33
+ - 12 5
Buffy Sainte-Marie is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Buffy Sainte-Marie Rock music, Folk music Electronic music

34
+ - 14 7
Maddy Prior is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Maddy Prior Folk music, Electric folk Folk rock

35
+ - 15 8
John Hartford is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
John Hartford Folk music, Bluegrass Country

36
+ - 19 12
Jewel is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Jewel Adult contemporary music, Pop music Traditional music

37
+ - 7 1
Ben Harper is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Ben Harper Rock music, Gospel music Blues

38
+ - 8 2
Chet Atkins is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Chet Atkins Folk music, Jazz Country

39
+ - 10 4
June Tabor is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
June Tabor Folk music

40
+ - 10 4
Lucy Kaplansky is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Lucy Kaplansky Folk music

41
+ - 11 5
Josh Rouse is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Josh Rouse Pop music, Folk music Alternative country

42
+ - 12 6
Leon Russell is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Leon Russell Blues-rock, Rock music Folk music

43
+ - 12 6
Gomez is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Gomez Folk music, Alternative rock Jam band

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44
+ - 12 6
Joshua Radin is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Joshua Radin Folk music, Acoustic music

45
+ - 12 6
Iris DeMent is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Iris DeMent Folk music, Alternative country Gospel music

46
+ - 13 7
Los Lobos is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Los Lobos Americana, Chicano rock Heartland rock

47
+ - 13 7
Joan Osborne is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Joan Osborne Rock music, Folk music Country rock

48
+ - 13 7
Jim Corcoran is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Jim Corcoran Pop music, Folk music

49
+ - 14 8
Jimmie Rodgers is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Jimmie Rodgers Rock music, Folk music Traditional pop music

50
+ - 15 9
Luke Kelly is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Luke Kelly Folk music, Folk music of Ireland