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.
This voice never boasted the sheer lusciousness of Leontyne Price or the sword-like thrust of Birgit Nilsson. But Montserrat Caballé had a honeyed quality in her timbre, a huge range, and fabulous agility that she deployed like a magician.
Not only does she nail all the things that define great jazz singers, but Reeves also expands the idea of what a jazz vocalist is. She constructs intricate rhythm arrangements and choruses that leave listeners humming for days.
Camaron de la Isla re-energized a centuries-old flamenco tradition, leading the music into the 20th century and beyond. As he began his career, flamenco was still a connoisseur's music, hardly part of the popular Spanish mainstream, but Camaron would change that forever.
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 late soul singer's legendary voice has been called "flawless" and "as smooth as silk." It's been known to create an atmosphere of pure romance: For many years, Vandross was the go-to singer for when you wanted to get in the mood.
Holiday became famous after she recorded "Strange Fruit," a 1939 protest song about lynchings of African-Americans. The haunting vocal offers a stark illustration of her greatest gift -- the ability to convey emotion.
Vargas was born in Costa Rica, but has a voice tailor-made for singing Mexican rancheras, boleros and corridos. For many Mexicans, her versions of these songs are definitive. Even at 91, Vargas still possesses a voice that reflects struggle, defiance and ultimately triumph.
To find out just what makes Domingo so compelling as Otello, the warrior who suspects his wife has been unfaithful, we turn to some of his fans: singer and composer Rufus Wainwright, former music critic Tim Page and opera star Renee Fleming.
Placido Domingo: The Spellbinding Voice Of A Titan Tenor
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.
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.
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.