In the late '60s, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, and Laura Nyro were the first singer-songwriters to open up folk music to uptown jazz, soul and R&B. Their innovations spawned a legion of followers, including one Phoebe Snow, who has always straddled the line between soft pop and smooth jazz better than most of her peers. Her mind-blowing voice deserves a lot of the credit. Delicate but never laid back, Snow turns phrases like a nightclub veteran, not some amateur folkie. In fact, she's one of them Frank Sinatra-types who could sing the phone book and still sound great. Of course, versatility is a double-edged sword. Because Snow defies simple genre identification, she will forever be a cult artist. But hey, I'd rather party with Phoebe Snow than Anne Murray any day.