Gillian Welch

The aura of mystical awe surrounding reigning folk songwriter queen Gillian Welch is almost like the Appalachian equivalent of the reverence given by the R&B heads to Erykah Badu or Lauryn Hill. Welch doesn't actually come from hillbilly roots, but she earns the accolades nonetheless. Even when flanked by guitarist and longtime musical partner David Rawlings, who is himself far more breathtaking than his aw-shucks sense of self-restraint might like you to believe, she's a commanding presence, cooing out age-old murder ballads to such perfection that you can't help but wonder if she might be a ghost herself.