George Jones was arguably the greatest male voice in country music. He set the standard for feeling and inflection that is still considered the standard today. In the wake of his death USA Today asks “Now who’s the greatest living (male) country singer?”
So what are the standards for measure? Longevity and legendary status? Range and feeling? Stage presence? I’m going with technique and style and depth over legacy and stage presence. With the former a distinct style is a given with any legendary performer and as for sage presence , I could care less i they never move on stge if they move me emotionally with their lyrics.
Here are my 6 possible contenders. I’ve stretched country music boundaries to include Americana and roots music overall as some of the best singers, in my opinion, reside there.
If the crown for best country voice was based on chosen successor then Merle Haggard was George Jones’ choice as his favorite country singer.
If your criteria is individual style few could stand up against the nasal vibrato of Willie Nelson.
When Darrell Scott would take his turn at the mic to sing Joe “Red” Hayes and Jack Rhodes’ classic “Satisfied Mind” as a member of Robert Plant’s “Band of Joy” plant had the good sense to step back into a supporting role.
Though more of a soul and gospel, singer Mike Ferris deftly mines the veins that feeds country music’s soul.
Like Jones Dwight Yoakam put a lasting stamp on country music with his intonation and hillbilly hiccup.
George Strait’s baritone is like a warm day and he makes you believe in the song.