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Famous Raspy Voice Singers

The School of Voice / Musician Resources / Famous Raspy Voice Singers

May 31, 2024
Making the best of a raspy voice, these raspy vocalists sing with power: on stage, a woman with a raspy voice sings proudly
Take a tour through the top raspy vocalists who have used this distinctive style to captivate audiences across different genres. The unique character of a raspy voice can enhance a vocalist's style, adding emotive depth to performances.

There’s a wealth of vocal artists known for their distinctively raspy voices. Artists from various genres have used this unique vocal style to captivate audiences and create signature sounds.

Get inspired by the best raspy vocalists

Each of these artists embraces the unique raspiness in their voices, using it to express emotion and create a distinctive sound. They prove that singing isn’t just about having a “perfect” voice; it’s about authenticity and connecting with audiences.

Top raspy vocalists include:

Joe Cocker

Known for his gritty voice, Joe Cocker was a British rock and blues artist who’s celebrated for covers like “With a Little Help from My Friends.” Cocker’s gravelly voice bolstered his passionate renditions of rock and blues songs.

Janis Joplin

Her uniquely raspy voice made her one of rock’s most famed female vocalists and a standout of the psychedelic era. Joplin’s soulful, raw voice became the hallmark of her bluesy rock sound.

Louis Armstrong

The unmistakable rasp in Armstrong’s voice remains iconic in the world of jazz. Known for his scratchy, heartfelt tone, Armstrong’s voice is as iconic as his jazz trumpet playing.

Tom Waits

Famed for his distinctively coarse vocals, Waits’ voice has been described as singing like it’s being “dragged across gravel.” With a voice that’s been likened to a gravelly growl, Waits is a master of using his distinctive sound to evoke emotion.

Stevie Nicks

The Fleetwood Mac vocalist is known for her bewitching voice that weaves a sultry blend of smooth and raspy tones. Nicks’ mystical, raw singing style has been a staple of her sound with Fleetwood Mac and in her solo career.

Ray Charles

The soulful rasp in Charles’ voice contributed to his rich, expressive performances.

Bruce Springsteen

The Boss himself is known for his muscular rasp, a signature of his rousing heartland rock sound. Known as “The Boss,” Springsteen’s rugged, raspy vocals form the backbone of his heartland rock sound.

Tina Turner

Her explosive and raspy vocals, characterized by her high energy performances, have made her a beloved figure in rock and roll. The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s powerful voice is as raspy as it is spirited.

Rod Stewart

Another master of the raspy voice style, Stewart’s vocals are memorable and filled with soulful character. Stewart’s raspy vocals are instantly recognizable, contributing to his rock ‘n’ roll legend status.

Kurt Cobain

The Nirvana frontman was renowned for his intense, raspy vocals that defined the grunge era.

Steven Tyler

The Aerosmith singer’s raspy voice has carried timeless rock hits for over four decades.

Macy Gray

Gray became instantly recognizable in the music industry due to her decidedly raspy voice. The R&B singer’s distinctive rasp brought a fresh sound to the music industry in the late 90s.

Melissa Etheridge

Etheridge’s raspy voice, combined with her heartfelt lyrics, has won her multiple Grammy Awards.

Bob Dylan

Famous for his unique, raspy voice, Dylan’s sound is as distinctive as his profound lyrics.

Kim Carnes

Known best for “Bette Davis Eyes,” Carnes’ raspy voice was her signature.

Eddie Vedder

The Pearl Jam frontman’s voice has a unique, deep rasp that’s integral to his sound.

Lemmy Kilmister

The late Motorhead frontman’s growling, raspy voice was a defining element of their heavy metal music.

Amy Winehouse

Known for her deep, expressive contralto vocals, Winehouse utilized her natural raspberry effectively in her soulful music.

I hope this helps inspire you!

Remember, while it can be inspiring to look to these artists, it’s essential to find your unique voice and style. Your raspy voice should feel natural and comfortable, not strained or forced. Each of these artists found a way to make their raspy voice work for them. If you’re thinking about introducing a rasp to your own sound, be sure to do so safely and in a way that suits your vocal style and health.

Learn more about making your voice raspy and what causes a raspy singing voice

Our voices carry far more than just words; they can echo our unique personality and emotions, and for some, adding a raspy touch can bring a deeper level of resonance to their singing performances. But, embarking on the journey towards making your voice more raspy needs to be both mindful and cautious.

Your voice may become raspy due to various causes including vocal strain, poor singing technique, illnesses, allergies, acid reflux, smoking, alcohol, dehydration, and certain medications. While some singers aim to purposefully introduce raspiness into their voice as it suits their musical style, it’s crucial to approach this without causing damage or strain to your vocal cords.

Mastering a raspy voice requires a repertoire of precise techniques.

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