Ultimate Queen of Meltiness: Billie Holiday
Of all the wondrously melty things about Billie's voice, my favorite is her phrasing. It's like nobody ever told her you're supposed to sing those specific notes in this very melody, as written, at the recommended time.
King of Meltiness: Ray Charles
Whereas Billie is melty in a roast-my-heart-on-a-skewer-like-a-marshmallow way, Ray is melty in a can-I-take-off-my-pants-now? way.
High Priestess of Meltiness: Nina Simone
A lot of people in this world don't love Nina Simone's voice. These must be the same people who think "Benjamin Button" was a brilliant film, and that Steven Colbert is actually a right-wing Republican. To these people I say: go back to your own planet.
Chief Ass-Kicker of Meltiness: Aretha Franklin
Aretha is like Michael Phelps. She is a freak of nature, born to excel at one craft, beyond the range of human capacity as it was previously understood. These people come from another planet also, but they can stay.
Meltiest Singer You Never Heard Of: Josh White
Josh White was popular from the 1930s through the early '50s, when he was blacklisted by the MacCarthyites for being a communist (which he wasn't, by the way. He was a civil rights activist. Oops!), which irreversibly damaged his career. His voice is, obviously, like warm honey being dripped into a clawfoot tub full of hot chocolate, velvet and kittens (we're talking supernatural kittens whose adorable fluffiness is not harmed by hot chocolate or honey).
**Runners up, for those with too much time and an emusic account on their hands: Sam Cooke ("Peace in the Valley" with the Soul Stirrers), Snooks Eaglin ("Who's Loving You Tonight"), Pops Staples ("Down in Mississippi", from his 1990s album (produced by Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne... what?!)), Oliver Wood ("Chocolate on my Tongue"), Victoria Spivey ("Dope Head Blues"), Amos Lee ("Skipping Stones").