Ani DiFranco (born Angela Maria DiFranco on September 23, 1970) is an American Grammy Award-winning singer, guitarist, and songwriter. She is a prolific artist, having released over twenty albums, and is widely celebrated as a feminist icon.
"Blind" Lemon Jefferson (September 24, 1893 – at some point in Mid-December, 1929) was a blues singer and guitarist from Texas. He was one of the most popular blues singers of the 1920s, and has been titled "Father of the Texas Blues". Jefferson's singing and self-accompaniment were distinctive as a result of his high-pitched voice and originality on the guitar.
Dolly Rebecca Parton (born January 19, 1946) is an American singer-songwriter, author, multi-instrumentalist, actress and philanthropist, best-known for her work in country music. In the four-and-a-half decades since her national-chart début, she remains one of the most-successful female artists in the history of the country genre which garnered her the title of 'The Queen of Country Music', with twenty-five number-one singles, and a record forty-one top-10 country albums.
Louis Daniel Armstrong (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971) nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, was an American jazz trumpeter and singer from New Orleans, Louisiana. Coming to prominence in the 1920s as an "inventive" cornet and trumpet player, Armstrong was a foundational influence on jazz, shifting the music's focus from collective improvisation to solo performers.
Huddie William Ledbetter(January 1888 – December 6, 1949) was an iconic American folk and blues musician, notable for his strong vocals, his virtuosity on the 12-string guitar, and the songbook of folk standards he introduced. He is best known as Leadbelly or Lead Belly. Though many releases list him as "Leadbelly," he himself spelled it "Lead Belly. " This is also the usage on his tombstone, as well as of the Lead Belly Foundation.
Robert Leroy Johnson (May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938) was an American blues musician, among the most famous of Delta blues musicians. His landmark recordings from 1936–1937 display a remarkable combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that have influenced generations of musicians. Johnson's shadowy, poorly documented life and death at age 27 have given rise to much legend, including a Faust myth.
Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie (July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967) is best known as an American singer-songwriter and folk musician, whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children's songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his guitar. His best-known song is "This Land Is Your Land", which is regularly sung in American schools.
Stanley Jordan (July 31, 1959) is an American jazz/jazz fusion guitarist, best known for his development of the tapping technique for the guitar. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, and he received a BA in digital music composition from Princeton University in 1981, studying under computer-music composers Paul Lansky and Milton Babbitt. Stanley Jordan began his music career at age six, studying piano, then shifted his focus to guitar at age eleven. He later began playing in rock and soul bands.
Irving Berlin (May 11, 1888 – September 22, 1989) was an American composer and lyricist widely considered one of the greatest songwriters in history. His first hit song, "Alexander's Ragtime Band", became world famous. The song sparked an international dance craze in places as far away as Russia, which also "flung itself into the ragtime beat with an abandon bordering on mania.
Billie Holiday (born Elinore Harris; April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959) was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Nicknamed Lady Day by her friend and musical partner Lester Young, Holiday was a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. Above all, she was admired all over the world for her deeply personal and intimate approach to singing.
Paul Frederic Simon (born October 13, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, known for his success beginning in 1965 as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, with musical partner Art Garfunkel. Simon wrote most of the pair's songs, including three that reached number one on the US singles charts, "The Sounds of Silence", "Mrs. Robinson", and "Bridge Over Troubled Water".
Joan Chandos Baez (born January 9, 1941) is an American folk singer, songwriter and activist. Baez has a distinctive vocal style, with a strong vibrato, and her recordings have included topical songs and material dealing with social issues. Baez began her career performing in coffeehouses in the Boston-Cambridge area, and rose to fame as an unbilled performer at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival. She began her recording career in 1960, and achieved immediate success.
Bessie Smith (April 15, 1894 – September 26, 1937) was an American blues singer. Sometimes referred to as "The Empress of the Blues," Smith was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s. She is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era and, along with Louis Armstrong, a major influence on subsequent jazz vocalists.
David Blaine (born David Blaine White; April 4, 1973) is an American illusionist and endurance artist. He is best known for his high-profile feats of endurance, and has made his name as a performer of street and close-up magic. He has set and broken several world records. Theatre owner James Nederlander as well as The New York Times have referred to Blaine as a modern day Houdini.
Charles Parker, Jr. (August 29, 1920 – March 12, 1955) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Parker, with Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, is largely considered one of the most influential of jazz musicians. Parker acquired the nickname "Yardbird" early in his career, and the shortened form "Bird" remained Parker's sobriquet for the rest of his life, inspiring the titles of a number of Parker compositions, such as "Yardbird Suite", "Ornithology" and "Bird of Paradise.
Bruce "Utah" Duncan Phillips (May 15, 1935 – May 23, 2008) was a labor organizer, folk singer, storyteller, poet and the "Golden Voice of the Great Southwest". He described the struggles of labor unions and the power of direct action, self-identifying as an anarchist. He often promoted the Industrial Workers of the World in his music, actions, and words.
Lewis Allan "Lou" Reed (born March 2, 1942) is an American rock musician best known as the guitarist, vocalist and principal songwriter of The Velvet Underground as well as a successful solo artist whose career has spanned several decades. The Velvet Underground gained little mainstream attention during their career, but became one of the most influential bands of their era.
McKinley Morganfield (April 4, 1913 – April 30, 1983), known as Muddy Waters, was an American blues musician, generally considered "the Father of Chicago blues". Blues musicians Big Bill Morganfield and Larry "Mud Morganfield" Williams are his sons. A major inspiration for the British blues explosion in the 1960s, Muddy was ranked #17 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Bon Jovi is an American hard rock band from Sayreville, New Jersey. Formed in 1983, Bon Jovi consists of lead singer and namesake Jon Bon Jovi, guitarist Richie Sambora, keyboardist David Bryan, drummer Tico Torres, former bassist Alec John Such, as well as current bassist Hugh McDonald. The band's line-up has remained mostly static during their 26-year history, the only exception being the departure of Alec John Such in 1994, who was unofficially replaced by Hugh McDonald.
George Burns (January 20, 1896 – March 9, 1996), born Nathan Birnbaum, was an American comedian, actor, and writer. His career spanned vaudeville, film, radio, and television, with and without his wife, Gracie Allen. His arched eyebrow and cigar smoke punctuation became familiar trademarks for over three quarters of a century.
Arthur Ira "Art" Garfunkel (born November 5, 1941) is an American singer, poet and actor, best known as half of the folk duo Simon & Garfunkel. In particular, he is remembered for being the singer of the #1 Hit single, "Bridge Over Troubled Water", as well as going on to have three Top Twenty US Hits, a top ten hit, six top forty hits, five Adult Contemporary number ones, two UK number ones, a Golden Globe nomination and a People's Choice Awards after the duo split up.
Baby Gramps is a steel guitar performer, who, though born in Miami, Florida, has been based in the Northwest USA for at least the last 40 years. He is famous for his palindromes. Baby Gramps started performing in 1964 and is still playing professionally as of 2009.
Arthel Lane "Doc" Watson (born March 3, 1923) is an American guitar player, songwriter and singer of bluegrass, folk, country, blues and gospel music. He has won seven Grammy awards as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Watson's flatpicking skills and knowledge of traditional American music are highly regarded. He performed with his son Merle for over 15 years until Merle's death in 1985, in an accident on the family farm.
Stephen Glenn "Steve" Martin (born August 14, 1945) is an American actor, comedian, writer, playwright, producer, musician, and composer. He was raised in Southern California, where his early influences were working at Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm and working magic and comedy acts at these and other smaller venues in the area. His ascent to fame picked up when he became a writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and later became a frequent guest on the Tonight Show.
James Hubert Blake (February 7, 1887 – February 12, 1983) was an American composer, lyricist, and pianist of ragtime, jazz, and popular music. In 1921, Blake and long-time collaborator Noble Sissle wrote the Broadway musical Shuffle Along, one of the first Broadway musicals to be written and directed by African Americans. Blake's compositions included such hits as, "Bandana Days", "Charleston Rag", "Love Will Find A Way", "Memories of You", and "I'm Just Wild About Harry".