21. Joan Baez
Joan Baez is one of the most remarkable forces in American folk music since the second half of the 20th Century. Her voice is an extraordinary soprano, and she's played everything from classic traditional songs to the work of Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs. She's also been a constant voice for peace and social justice.
22. John Gorka
John Gorka's literary, poetic folk songs are among some of the most well-written around these days. He's drawn praise from fellow singer/songwriters and critics alike, and has become a fixture at festivals nationwide since winning the Kerrville New Folk competition in 1984.
23. John Prine
John Prine is often hailed as one of the best narrative songwriters of his generation, and has been compared to fellow great songwriters Paul Simon, Loudon Waiwright and James Taylor. He's a Grammy Award-winning songwriter and has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
24. Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash is another one of those artists who's often looked at as a country singer, although his earliest influences were folk artists like the Carter Family. He was a great fan of traditional music, and often performed traditional spiritual songs and the like in his performances with wife June Carter.
25. Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell is revered for her poetic imagery and her lovely, soaring soprano. Although she really wanted to be a painter, Mitchell managed to pen some of the most memorable folk songs of the past 30 years, including the preservationist tune "Big Yellow Taxi."
26. Judy Collins
Judy Collins was one of the artists instrumental in the peace movement of the 1960s. She was one of the most popular female folksingers in the '60s folk revival, and started her own record company, Wildflower Records.
The Kingston Trio was one of the most succesful folk groups of its kind, inspiring various other trios to dress alike and tell jokes between their renditions of traditional folk songs. They've released more than 40 albums in the last 50 years, and have become somewhat of an institution in contemporary folk music.
Kris Kristofferson may be best known for writing Janis Joplin's huge hit "Me and Bobbie McGhee," but he's a favorite among fellow songwriters. He's also quite the accomplished actor, having appeared in several films, including A Star is Born with Barbra Streisand.
You can't really argue with a folksinger so good that his song managed to get him out of jail for murder. Leadbelly's influence has been felt across the musical spectrum, and his tunes spanned the old folk-blues and contemporary folk music.
30. Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen is one of the most distinguised songwriters in contemporary folk music. Originally from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, he spent five years living at the Mount Baldy Zen Center in Los Angeles. His dark, spiritual love songs have been frequently covered by artists of all sorts.