19. Bob Marley
February 6th, 1945 (died May 11th, 1981)
Key Tracks "No Woman, No Cry," "Redemption Song," "I Shot the Sheriff"
Influenced Bono, Lauryn Hill, Buju Banton
To talk only about Bob Marley's singing voice would negate what makes him one of the greatest voices of our time — why his voice is stamped in our history. He sang about heavy ideas, and he put them out there so delicately and so lightly, with such a generous groove, a generous feel and a generous voice. He didn't sing correctly; he wasn't trained, but he had a beautiful voice, a lot like one of my other favorite singers of all time, Marvin Gaye. If they had more similar accents and had sung in more similar styles, you'd hear it.
It's hard to separate his voice from what he was singing about. Bob Marley sang with a great deal of power — enough to shake the foundations of his country's government. A measure of a great singer is getting a message across, saying things that otherwise won't be heard. And in a world that has ways of shutting down people that talk about peace and love, Bob Marley could get that message across and inspire us. It's rare that something so serious and so beautiful as his music can rise as clearly to the top as he did. His voice is one of the most important inspirations of our time — he was the voice of oppressed people all over the world.