OK. It's time for me to sort out my thoughts about this. What have I done? Why would I even put my mind to such a subjective nonsense? Who is the best singer ever? What kind of question is that?
I loved reading your responses. You had so many great observations and thoughts about the question. And it really is a subjective question. We all are going to look for different things in a good singer. Some people might recognize tone as the most important factor. Others might listen for range. Or agility. Or power. Or nuance. Or some combination of all of them.
Here were your top choices (number of votes in parenthesis):
1. Celine Dion (9)
2. Whitney Houston and Barbra Striesand (tie - 5)
4. CeCe Winans (4)
5. Karen Carpenter (3)
1. Steve Perry and Josh Groban (tie - 4)
3. Elvis and Nat King Cole (tie - 3)
Pretty decent choices, in my opinion. Now, some of you voted with your heart and not your mind, bless your hearts. As a reminder, I asked you to vote not for who was your favorite singer or favorite artist, but who, in your opinion, was the best singer ever. Just reminding you. Some of you. You heart voters, you. A couple of your votes made me want to punch my computer screen. In love, of course.
Some of your votes made me stop and reconsider who I thought should be on my list. Like Steve Perry. I did not have him even in my top 5. But now, I might consider it. Just for the sheer homage to the first 4 words of "Oh, Sherrie." Mmmmmm. Good. Also, Karen Carpenter. Not much power. Not very agile or "licky." But, oh the tone and nuance.
Just like me, Karen, they long to be close to you.
And something my friends and I have observed is that generally speaking, over the course of history, people look for great singers in their female artists (Whitney, Celine, Mariah). But for male artists, more than being just a great singer, they look for the whole artist / rock star thing (Elton, Billy, Michael). Interesting. I am the same way. My favorite male artists list reflects that...Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, Billy Joel (80's much?). But I have struggled to make a list of the best male vocalists ever.
OK, so here goes my list.
3. Aretha Franklin (I'm giving her R-E-S...nevermind)
2. Celine Dion (her heart will go on dan don)
1. Whitney (she believes the children are our future)
To me, there is no voice as close to perfect as Whitney's was in her prime.
Honorable Mention: Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Dolly Parton, Allison Krauss
Horizon Award: Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson - two voices on their way to being two of the best ever (reminder: OPINION). I know. They are both from American Idol. Don't judge me.
I'm just not ready to list this one. But, dang it. It's not going to get easier. Here we go:
3. Michael Bolton (again. don't judge me.)
2. Michael Jackson (mamasehmamasahmamakusah)
1. Stevie Wonder
I don't know. I will change my mind tomorrow. Leave me alone about it right now. I need more time. Something. Just...whatever.
Honorable mention: Tony Bennett, Elvis, Luther Vandross, Michael McDonald, Michael English
Horizon Award: Michael Buble (have you really listened to this guy? unstinkingbelievable.), Israel Houghton (freakishly great singer)
Another time, we will rank our favorite artists. But my brain is cramped up from THIS stupid question. So, in the words of Janet Jackson, let's wait a while...before we tackle that one.