1. Billie Holiday
2. Howlin' Wolf
2. Howlin' Wolf
1. Pre-war blues
Spanish American? Granada? Or one of the somewhat more involved affairs? How about police actions, do they count?
Female - Billies a good choice but Ill go with Ella Fitzgerald if I can pick the war.
Male - Leadbelly. Anyone who can sing themselves out of prison twice? No brainer here.
2. Electric blues
Female - The little gal with the big voice from Port Arthur TX Janis Joplibn. Duh.
Male Michael John ( and the bottom Line Band West Coast Big band Blues), otherwise Johnny Langs emotive powers usually makes him stand out to me in spite of his less than dazzeling vocal ability. Walter Trout is a better singer. Michael J. though puts both energy and ability into his vocals as the bands front man.
Female - Bonnie Raitt seems a shoe in here, but Susan Tedeski does have some nice cords.
Male - George Thoroughgood, Derek Trucks. Someone else can support Clapton or Trower.
Pre-war for me has to be Robert Wilkins, who became the reverend Robert Wilkins, however I draw the line at the sixties rediscovery material which is weak. His 1927-1930 sessions are sublime.
My favorite electric vocal accompaniment is Sonnyboy Williamson (Rice Miller), however when he got discovered in the sixties and went to europe he made a series of terrible records which are actually quite popular. Lots of self-conscious tomfoolery and posturing for the kids. What I like are his chess sides, almost all of them, from the early 50's to about 1963.
Blues-rock is a difficult genre to choose within because of the astounding range of approaches. You really can't compare the best ones because they are so different. Pressed, I might choose Captain Beefheart (Do Van Vliet). Just listen to 'Mirror Man' from 1970. Genius.
There are too many for me to draw a full list, but here are a couple of women who might otherwise go unmentioned: Odetta and Koko Taylor. Check out "Gallows Pole" and "Wang Dang Doodle", respectively. I think pretty much everyone has taken a shot at "Wang Dang" and I'll take Koko's over the whole lot of 'em (including Howlin' Wolf's version). Just MHO.