Who is the King of Folk Music?

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


We all know that Bob Dylan is the king of folk music, but there are plenty of other contenders for the title. Who do you think deserves the crown?

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, author, and visual artist who has been a major figure in popular culture for more than 50 years. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin'” became anthems of the civil rights and anti-war movements. His lyrics during this period incorporated a wide range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences.

His impact on folk music

Bob Dylan was one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. He is often referred to as the “King of Folk Music.” Dylan’s impact on folk music was tremendous. He popularized the genre and made it more accessible to a wider audience. Dylan’s songs were also very political and had a profound impact on the social and political landscape of the 1960s.

His unique songwriting style

Dylan’s unique songwriting style has often been praised by critics. In a 1965 essay, Greil Marcus described Dylan’s songs as “finger-pointing parables” that “set the moral problem in its deepest human terms”. Marcus claimed that Dylan had inherited the tradition of American folk music and used it to create his own brand of folk-rock.

Dylan’s lyrics have been interpreted as protest songs, socialist anthems, and as Christian sanctus. They have been described as cryptic and sometimes opaque. Some critics have argued that Dylan deliberately avoids literal interpretations of his lyrics in order to create an open-ended and ambiguous interpretation.

Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie has been called the “King of Folk Music.” He was an American singer-songwriter and musician who is known for his popular songs that protested against social injustice. Guthrie was a major influence on many musicians, including Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

His influence on Dylan

It has been said that without Woody Guthrie, there would be no Bob Dylan. Guthrie was one of the 20th century’s most important folk musicians, and his influence can still be felt today.

Guthrie was born in 1912 in Oklahoma, and he grew up during the Great Depression. He began his musical career in the 1930s, playing country and blues music. In 1940, he moved to California, where he wrote hundreds of songs about the everyday lives of ordinary people.

Guthrie’s songs were simple and direct, and they spoke to the experiences of everyday Americans. He wrote about love, loss, work, and play; about poverty and injustice; about racism and sexism; about war and peace. His songs were hopeful and uplifting, but they also had a sharp edge of anger and frustration.

Guthrie’s biggest influence was on Dylan, who was born in 1941. Dylan grew up listening to Guthrie’s music, and he has said that Guthrie was a major inspiration for his own songwriting. Like Guthrie, Dylan writes about the common experiences of ordinary people. And like Guthrie, Dylan is not afraid to speak out against injustice.

His social activism

Woody Guthrie was more than just a folk singer; he was also a social activist. He believed in using his music to raise awareness about the plight of the working class and to advocate for social justice. He wrote songs about labor rights, the Dust Bowl, and the Great Depression. He also spoke out against racism and sexism. In addition to being a musician, he was also a writer and an artist. He used his talents to support the labor movement and to fight for social change.

Joan Baez

Joan Baez is an American folk singer, songwriter, musician, and a leading voice of the 1960s counterculture and civil rights movements. Often referred to as the “Queen of Folk”, Baez has played an instrumental role in shaping the genre. Her recordings consist of traditional folk songs, covers of contemporary artists, and political protest songs.

Her civil rights activism

Joan Baez is a legendary figure in the world of folk music. She is also well-known for her civil rights activism. During the 1960s, she was a key figure in the civil rights movement, using her musical platform to raise awareness of the issues and to call for change. Baez was also active in the anti-war movement, and she famously protested against the Vietnam War by refusing to register for the draft. In recent years, she has continued to use her music to speak out on issues like climate change and human rights.

Her musical style

Joan Baez’s musical style has been described as folk, folk rock, and pop. She has been an influence on various singers and musicians, including Bob Dylan, Pixies, Emmylou Harris, Paul Simon, Natalie Merchant, Tracy Chapman, Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Neville Brothers, Joan Osborne, Indigo Girls, Tim Buckley, 10,000 Maniacs, Kate Bush, Ani DiFranco and Tori Amos.

Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger was an American folk musician and one of the most influential singers of the 20th century. He was a singer, songwriter, and social activist. His music was influential in the development of the folk music genre. He was also a key figure in the formation of the protest movement against the Vietnam War.

His work with The Weavers

Pete Seeger is often thought of as the godfather of the American folk music revival. He was a highly influential figure in the 1950s and 1960s, thanks in part to his work with The Weavers, one of the most popular folk groups of the time. The Weavers had a string of hits with Seeger’s songs “Goodnight, Irene” and “On Top of Old Smokey,” both of which he co-wrote with Lead Belly. He also wrote or co-wrote many other well-known folk songs, including “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” and “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season).”

His anti-war activism

Pete Seeger was an American folk singer, songwriter, and social activist. A well-known figure in the twentieth-century American folk music revival, he was also a founder of the folk group the Weavers, whose hit recording of Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene” topped the charts for 13 weeks in 1950. In the 1960s, Seeger was blacklisted from commercial television and radio for his support of communist causes. Nevertheless, he continued to perform throughout his life and was inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.


So, who is the king of folk music? That’s a question that can’t be answered definitively. There are too many great artists and too many different styles of folk music to choose just one. But if we had to pick one artist who embodies the spirit of folk music, it would be Bob Dylan. He’s a singer, songwriter, and musician who has been influential in shaping the sound and style of folk music for more than 50 years. He’s also an artist who continues to evolve and experiment with his craft, which is one of the things that makes him so great. If you’re looking for someone to listen to when you want to experience the best that folk music has to offer, Bob Dylan is a good place to start.

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