folk music The Best Folk Bands/Artists  

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7.1k votes 569 voters 51.6k views 313 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 2018. 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. (313 items)

1
138 46
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
jerrycstanaway added Bob Dylan Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

2
95 47
Joni Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Joni Mitchell Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

3
68 30
Woody Guthrie is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Woody Guthrie Folk music, Country

4
76 37
Leonard Cohen is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Leonard Cohen Synthpop, Pop music, Spoken word

5
63 28
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
chip-chop added Neil Young Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

6
81 42
Joan Baez is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Joan Baez Americana, Pop music, Rock music

7
46 17
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
chip-chop added James Taylor Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

8
82 45
Jim Croce is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Jim Croce Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

9
74 41
John Denver is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
John Denver Western music, Pop music, Traditional music

10
71 41
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Gordon Lightfoot Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

11
37 15
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
chip-chop added Carole King Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

12
52 33
John Prine is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
John Prine Folk music, Progressive bluegrass, Country

13
44 27
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Kris Kristofferson Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

14
32 20
Richard Thompson is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
bri-gri added Richard Thompson Rock music, Folk music, Electric folk

The Best Folk Songs of 2018

15
34 22
Linda Ronstadt is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Linda Ronstadt New Wave, Rock music, Latin American music

16
35 23
John Sebastian is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
John Sebastian Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

17
19 8
The Weavers is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
gnicholls added The Weavers Folk music

18
21 10
Cat Stevens is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
samtheguitarman added Cat Stevens

19
32 21
Donovan is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
chip-chop added Donovan British Invasion, Psychedelic folk, Psychedelic pop

20
21 12
Fairport Convention is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
gnicholls added Fairport Convention

21
27 18
Janis Ian is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Janis Ian Adult contemporary music, Folk music

The (Male) Singer You Most Wish You Could Sound Like

22
24 17
Marianne Faithfull is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Marianne Faithfull Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

23
24 17
John Hartford is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
John Hartford Folk music, Bluegrass, Country

24
20 13
Buffy Sainte-Marie is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Buffy Sainte-Marie Rock music, Folk music, Electronic music

25
17 11
Rickie Lee Jones is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
chip-chop added Rickie Lee Jones Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll

26
27 22
Lucinda Williams is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Lucinda Williams Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

27
21 16
Pentangle is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
chip-chop added Pentangle Electric folk, Folk jazz, Folk rock

28
15 10
Stephen Stills is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
chip-chop added Stephen Stills Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

The Best Taylor Swift Songs

29
13 8
Steeleye Span is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
spanhead added Steeleye Span Electric folk

30
24 20
Joan Armatrading is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Joan Armatrading Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

31
30 27
Tanita Tikaram is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Tanita Tikaram Pop music, Folk music

32
12 8
Chet Atkins is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Chet Atkins Folk music, Jazz, Country

33
11 7
Carly Simon is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
chip-chop added Carly Simon Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rock music

34
23 20
Loudon Wainwright III is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Loudon Wainwright III Rock music, Folk music, Blues

35
32 30
Dixie Chicks is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Dixie Chicks Country pop, Pop music, Rock music

The Best Outlaw Country Artists of All Time

36
17 14
Joan Osborne is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Joan Osborne Rock music, Folk music, Country rock

37
16 13
Ian Tyson is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Ian Tyson Western music, Folk music, Country rock

38
28 26
Amy Macdonald is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Amy Macdonald Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

39
12 9
Maria Muldaur is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Maria Muldaur Folk music, Country, Blues

40
10 7
Martha Wainwright is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
chip-chop added Martha Wainwright Pop music, Folk music, Alternative rock

41
22 20
Jorma Kaukonen is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Jorma Kaukonen Rock music, Folk music, Psychedelic rock

42
18 16
Jack Johnson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Jack Johnson Indie pop, Tropical rock, Pop music

The Best Bluegrass Bands and Artists

43
16 14
Los Lobos is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Los Lobos Americana, Chicano rock, Heartland rock

44
14 12
June Tabor is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
June Tabor Folk music

45
24 23
Jewel is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Jewel Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Traditional music

46
13 11
Lobo is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Lobo Pop music, Folk music, Soft rock

47
11 9
Kate & Anna McGarrigle is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
gnicholls added Kate & Anna McGarrigle Folk music

48
19 18
Maddy Prior is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Maddy Prior Folk music, Electric folk, Folk rock

49
18 17
De Dannan is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
De Dannan Folk music, Folk music of Ireland, Celtic music

50
17 16
Iris DeMent is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Folk Bands/Artists
Iris DeMent Folk music, Alternative country, Gospel music