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.
David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946) is an American filmmaker and visual artist. Over a lengthy career, Lynch has employed a distinctive and unorthodox approach to narrative filmmaking (dubbed Lynchian), which has become instantly recognizable to many audiences and critics worldwide. Lynch's films are known for nightmarish and dreamlike images and meticulously crafted sound design. Lynch's work often depicts a seedy underside of small town America, or sprawling California metropolises.
Frank Vincent Zappa (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American composer, electric guitarist, record producer, and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa wrote rock, jazz, electronic, orchestral, and musique concrète works. He also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. Zappa produced almost all of the more than 60 albums he released with the band Mothers of Invention and as a solo artist.
George Benson (born March 22, 1943) is a Grammy Award-winning American musician, whose recording career began at the age of twenty-one as a jazz guitarist. He is also known as a pop, R&B, and scat singer. This one-time child prodigy topped the Billboard 200 in 1976 with the triple-platinum album, Breezin'. He was also a major live attraction in the UK during the 1980s. Benson uses a rest-stroke picking technique very similar to that of gypsy jazz players such as Django Reinhardt.
George Gershwin (September 26, 1898 – July 11, 1937) was an American composer and pianist. Gershwin's compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are widely known. He wrote most of his vocal and theatrical works, including more than a dozen Broadway shows, in collaboration with his elder brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin.
James Brown (born James Joseph Brown, Jr. ) (May 3, 1933 – December 25, 2006) was an American singer and entertainer. Referred to as "The Godfather of Soul", Brown is recognized as one of the most influential figures in the 20th century popular music and was renowned for his vocals and feverish dancing. He was also called "the hardest working man in show business". As a prolific singer, songwriter, dancer and bandleader, Brown was a pivotal force in the music industry.
John Coolidge Adams (born February 15, 1947) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer with strong roots in minimalism. His best-known works include On the Transmigration of Souls (2002), a choral piece commemorating the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2003), and Shaker Loops (1978), a minimalist four-movement work for strings.
Richard Kim Milford (February 7, 1951 – June 16, 1988) was an American actor, singer-songwriter, and composer. best known for his acting in musicals such as The Rocky Horror Show and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Philip Morris Glass (born January 31, 1937) is an American music composer. He is considered one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century and is widely acknowledged as a composer who has brought art music to the public. Although his music is often, though controversially, described as minimalist, he distances himself from this label, describing himself instead as a composer of "music with repetitive structures.
Stephen Michael “Steve” Reich (born October 3, 1936) is a Jewish-American composer who pioneered the style of minimalist music. His innovations include using tape loops to create phasing patterns (examples are his early compositions, "It's Gonna Rain" and "Come Out"), and the use of simple, audible processes to explore musical concepts.
Scott Joplin (between July 1867 and January 1868 – April 1, 1917) was an African American composer and pianist, born near Texarkana, Texas, into the first post-slavery generation. He achieved fame for his unique ragtime compositions, and was dubbed the "King of Ragtime. " During his brief career, Joplin wrote 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas.
Thomas Alan "Tom" Waits (born December 7, 1949) is an American singer-songwriter, composer and actor. Waits has a distinctive voice, described by critic Daniel Durchholz as sounding "like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car.
Jon Howard Appleton (born January 4, 1939) is an American composer and teacher who was a pioneer in electro-acoustic music. His earliest compositions in the medium, e.g. Chef d'Oeuvre and Newark Airport Rock attracted attention because they established a new tradition some have called programmatic electronic music. In 1970 he won Guggenheim, Fulbright and American-Scandinavian Foundation fellowships.
John Philip Sousa (November 6, 1854 – March 6, 1932) was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era, known particularly for American military and patriotic marches. Because of his mastery of march composition, he is known as "The March King."
Leonard Bernstein was an American conductor, composer, author, music lecturer and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the United States of America to receive worldwide acclaim. He was probably best known to the public as the longtime music director of the New York Philharmonic, for conducting concerts by many of the world's leading orchestras, and for writing the music for West Side Story, Candide, Wonderful Town, and On the Town.
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound (October 30, 1885 – November 1, 1972) was an American expatriate poet, critic and intellectual who was a major figure of the Modernist movement in the first half of the 20th century. He is generally considered the poet most responsible for defining and promoting a modernist aesthetic in poetry. The critic Hugh Kenner said of Pound upon meeting him: "I suddenly knew that I was in the presence of the center of modernism.
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.
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".
Kurt Julian Weill (March 2, 1900 – April 3, 1950), was a German, and in his later years American, composer active from the 1920s until his death. He was a leading composer for the stage. He also wrote a number of works for the concert hall.
Aaron Copland (November 14, 1900 – December 2, 1990) was an American nationalist composer of concert and film music, as well as an accomplished pianist. Instrumental in forging a distinctly American style of composition, he was widely known as "the dean of American composers". Copland's music achieved a balance between modern music and American folk styles. The open, slowly changing harmonies of many of his works are said to evoke the vast American landscape.
Alicia Augello Cook (born January 25, 1981), better known by her stage name Alicia Keys, is an American recording artist, musician and actress. She was raised by a single mother in the Hell's Kitchen area of Manhattan in New York City. At age seven, Keys began to play classical music on the piano. She attended Professional Performing Arts School and graduated at 16 as valedictorian. She later attended Columbia University before dropping out to pursue her music career.
John Milton Cage Jr. (September 5, 1912 – August 12, 1992) was an American composer, philosopher, poet, music theorist, artist, printmaker, and amateur mycologist and mushroom collector. A pioneer of chance music, electronic music and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century.