1.4k voters

The Best Folk Bands/Artists

Updated April 9, 2020 16.9k votes 1.4k voters 75.4k views292 items

Folk music is one of the most renowned genres of music in the world as shown by this list of best folk songs of 2020. 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 John Prine, 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, whether new and current or classic oldies, 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?", "Who is the best folk artist today?" 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.

  • 1

    Bob Dylan

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    Bob Dylan (born May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, author, poet, and visual...  more

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  • 2

    Gordon Lightfoot

    Endless Wire, If You Could Read My Mind
    Gordon Meredith Lightfoot Jr. (born November 17, 1938) is a Canadian singer-songwriter who...  more

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  • 3

    Dave Giummo

    Lullaby For Nature
  • 4

    James Taylor

    Sweet Baby James, A Christmas Album
    James Vernon Taylor (born March 12, 1948) is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A...  more

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  • 5

    Woody Guthrie

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    Woodrow Wilson Guthrie (; July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967) was an American singer-songwriter,...  more

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  • 6

    Joan Baez

    Speaking of Dreams, Gracias a la Vida
    Joan Chandos Baez (; born January 9, 1941) is an American singer, songwriter, musician and...  more

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  • 7

    Jim Croce

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    James Joseph Croce (; January 10, 1943 – September 20, 1973) was an American folk and rock...  more

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  • 8

    Neil Young

    Harvest, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
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  • 9

    Leonard Cohen

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    Leonard Norman Cohen (September 21, 1934 – November 7, 2016) was a Canadian singer,...  more

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  • 10
  • 11

    Joni Mitchell

    Blue, Court and Spark
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  • 12

    Carole King

    Tapestry, Wrap Around Joy
    Carole King (born Carol Joan Klein, February 9, 1942) is an American singer-songwriter who has...  more

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  • 13

    John Denver

    Rocky Mountain Christmas, Christmas Like a Lullaby
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  • 14

    The Weavers

    Wasn't That a Time, Reunion at Carnegie Hall - 1963
    The Weavers were an American folk music quartet based in the Greenwich Village area of New...  more
  • 15

    John Prine

    John Prine, A John Prine Christmas
    John Prine (October 10, 1946 – April 7, 2020) was an American country folk singer-songwriter....  more

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  • 16


    Definitive Collection, Fairytale
    Donovan (born Donovan Philips Leitch, 10 May 1946) is a Scottish singer, songwriter and...  more

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  • 17

    Linda Ronstadt

    A Merry Little Christmas, Heart Like a Wheel
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  • 18

    Judy Collins

    So Early in the Spring, the First 15 Years
    Judith Marjorie Collins (born May 1, 1939) is an American singer and songwriter known for her...  more

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  • 19

    Kris Kristofferson

    Kristofferson, Full Moon
    Kristoffer Kristofferson (born June 22, 1936) is an American singer-songwriter and actor....  more

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  • 20
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  • 21

    Stephen Stills

    Carry On, Super Session
    Stephen Arthur Stills (born January 3, 1945) is an American singer, songwriter, and...  more

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  • 22

    John Sebastian

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    John Benson Sebastian (born March 17, 1944) is an American singer/songwriter, guitarist,...  more


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  • 23

    Richard Thompson

    Shoot Out the Lights, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
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  • 24

    Chet Atkins

    East Tennessee Christmas, Chester & Lester
    Chester Burton Atkins (June 20, 1924 – June 30, 2001), known as "Mr. Guitar" and "The Country...  more

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  • 25

    Buffy Sainte-Marie

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    Buffy Sainte-Marie, OC (born Beverly Sainte-Marie, c. February 20, 1941) is a...  more


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