The Queen frontman chose a stage name in perfect harmony with his voice. He could move from an earthy baritone to a wild but heavenly tenor, and he connected with huge stadium audiences. The world lost the vibrant musician in 1991 when, at 45, he died of complications from AIDS.
The late Hawaiian musician known best for his ukulele-backed rendition of "Over the Rainbow" was a man with a standout voice and tremendous size. At more than 6 feet tall and weighing close to 1,000 pounds, "IZ" died when he was only 38.
Starting in the 1950s, Wells recorded hit after hit at a time when women didn't have hits in country music. When she performed, Wells delivered the goods with a country twang and a supple, powerful voice that reached right to the back of the house. She died Monday at the age of 92.
The writer-producer-arranger had a voice that was clear and powerful, and his piano-playing is remarkable in its own right. Although Hathaway is perhaps best known for his duets with singer Roberta Flack, the body of work he left behind when he died 30 years ago is part of the bedrock of American soul music.
Country music legend George Jones, who died today at 81, made a career out of turning hard living into heartbreaking songs. He could pull and bend notes until they made listeners hurt. In 2010, Jones told NPR's Melissa Block, "I try to live the song during that three minutes."
The singer, as widely known for her eccentric outfits and behavior as she is for her voice, is easily the most famous Icelander in the world. Inspired by childhood adventures walking among lava fields, Bjork's music is full of stories about pitch-dark forests and tiny sparks that live within them. Her music may prove challenging to listen to, but there are always moments of beauty and transcendence.
The Cuban singer, known worldwide as the "Queen of Salsa," grew up in neighborhoods where music was always in the air. She traveled for 15 years with the Sonora Matancera orchestra and settled in Fort Lee, N.J., home base for a decades-long career.
Algerian singer Khaled is known internationally for singing rai — a kind of North African music with roots in traditional folklore. Taken literally, rai translates to "opinion," and Khaled has taken that idea to heart. Although his music won him enemies among Algeria's Islamic fundamentalists in the 1980s, he continues to use his voice to spread a message of peace, love and personal freedom.
Her mother was Navajo, her father African-American. Now, she sings traditional songs in the language of her Native American ancestors -- with more than one twist. Cody lends her soulful, bluesy voice to speak out against domestic abuse.
Born and raised on the Spanish island of Mallorca, Buika has a voice that radiates intensity, with a power that's hard to define. Whether she's singing flamenco, soul, electronica or the blues, she says she finally feels completely free to sing whatever she wants.
Jackie Wilson was a singer's singer — admired by everyone from Elvis Presley to Van Morrison to Michael Jackson. His awe-inspiring falsetto powered 15 Top 10 R&B hits. But his stage show could make your jaw drop.
Clark sings like John Coltrane played: Her notes are clear and clean, her phrasing and timing exquisite. Many know her as the leader of The Clark Sisters and as a master organist, but Clark's voice is the sum of many parts.
The great Bob Marley called Dennis Brown the best reggae singer in the world. The name "crown prince" stuck with Brown for much of his 30-year career, but his fans say he ranks second to no one. He cut his first hit when he was only 11, and over the next three decades recorded more than 75 albums packed with hits.
His isn't the first name you'd expect to see on a list of great voices. But when you think of voice in the broadest sense of the word — a person communicating an idea with an audience — then Iggy Pop more than holds his own. He's proved that a voice doesn't have to charm or seduce someone; it can provoke. A vocal can be dangerous.
Mahalia Jackson sings at a Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in May 1957.
Paul Schutzer; Time & Live Pictures/Getty Imageshide caption
toggle captionPaul Schutzer; Time & Live Pictures/Getty Images
The gospel singer was born about 100 years ago in New Orleans, and when she was 16, she traveled the well-worn path up the Mississippi to Chicago. Beginning in the 1940s, she was one of the first singers to take gospel out of the church, drawing white audiences and selling millions of records. In the process, she inspired generations of singers.
Mahalia Jackson: Voice Of The Civil Rights Movement
A superstar in Turkey, Aksu is known throughout the Middle East and Europe. She's been a sexy pop star, but she's also reinvented herself throughout her career, selling millions of records in the process. Neva Grant recalls discovering Aksu's music for the first time.
Bhosle has recorded 12,000 songs and is featured on the soundtracks of more than 800 films. Her voice is easily recognized by a billion people in South Asia and around the world. Her influence has extended far beyond India, too: She's recorded with the boy band Red Code, the contemporary classical Kronos Quartet and even pop star Boy George.
The late, great opera diva's sound could sometimes be hollow and dark, sometimes shrill, sometimes gorgeous. Callas continues to thrill and divide audiences with her distinctive voice and the raw intensity she put into it.