William Christopher Handy (November 16, 1873 – March 28, 1958) was a blues composer and musician, often known as the "Father of the Blues". Handy remains among the most influential of American songwriters. Though he was one of many musicians who played the distinctively American form of music known as the blues, he is credited with giving it its contemporary form.
Lionel Leo Hampton (April 20, 1908 – August 31, 2002) was an American jazz vibraphonist, pianist, percussionist, bandleader and actor. Like Red Norvo, he was one of the first jazz vibraphone players. Hampton ranks among the great names in jazz history, having worked with a who's who of jazz musicians, from Benny Goodman and Buddy Rich to Charlie Parker and Quincy Jones. In 1992, he was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
Sun Ra was born in Birmingham, Alabama. He was a prolific jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his "cosmic philosophy," musical compositions and performances. "Of all the jazz musicians, Sun Ra was probably the most controversial," critic Scott Yanow said, due to Sun Ra's eclectic music and unorthodox lifestyle.
Emmylou Harris is an American country singer-songwriter and musician. In addition to her work as a solo artist and bandleader, both as an interpreter of other composers' works and as a singer-songwriter, she is a sought-after backing vocalist and duet partner, working with numerous other artists.
Hiram King ("Hank") Williams (September 17, 1923 - January 1, 1953) was an American country music performer who many believe to be the greatest of all time. He was not able to read or write music to any significant degree. He fathered a son who later became a country star in his own right. Williams died at age 29 after writing some of the greatest country songs of all times. His death is widely believed to have resulted from a mixture of alcohol and drugs.
Wilson Pickett (March 18, 1941 – January 19, 2006) was an American R&B/rock and roll and soul singer and songwriter known for his raw, raspy, passionate vocal delivery. A major figure in the development of American soul music, Pickett recorded over 50 songs which made the US R&B charts, and frequently crossed over to the pop charts as well. Among his best known hits are "In The Midnight Hour" (which he co-wrote), "Land of 1,000 Dances", "Mustang Sally", and "Funky Broadway".
Dinah Washington (August 29, 1924 – December 14, 1963) was a blues, R&B and jazz singer. She is a 1986 inductee of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. Washington was well known for singing torch songs. A 40-song box set titled "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" was released in 1999.
Nathaniel Adams Coles (March 17, 1919 – February 15, 1965), known professionally as Nat "King" Cole, was an American musician who first came to prominence as a leading jazz pianist. Although an accomplished pianist, he owes most of his popular musical fame to his soft baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres.
James William "Jimmy" Buffett (born December 25, 1946) is a singer, songwriter, author, businessman, and movie producer best known for his "island escapism" lifestyle and music including hits such as "Margaritaville", and "Come Monday". He has a devoted base of fans known as "Parrotheads". His band is called the Coral Reefer Band.
Virginia Wynette Pugh, known professionally as Tammy Wynette (May 5, 1942 – April 6, 1998), was an American country music singer-songwriter and one of country music's best-known artists and biggest-selling female vocalists. She was known as the First Lady of Country Music, and one of her best-known songs, "Stand by Your Man," was one of the biggest selling hit singles by a woman in the history of the country music genre.
Paul Williams (July 2, 1939 – August 17, 1973) was an American baritone singer and choreographer. Williams is noted for being one of the founding members and original lead singer of the Motown group The Temptations. Along with David Ruffin, Otis Williams (no relation), and fellow Alabamians Eddie Kendricks and Melvin Franklin, Williams was a member of The Temptations during their most successful years in the 1960s, later dubbed the "Classic Five" period.
Arthur Alexander (May 10, 1940 – June 9, 1993), born in Sheffield, Alabama, was perhaps one of the biggest stars to arise out of the American country soul scene. Jason Ankeny, music critic for Allmusic, said Alexander was a "country-soul pioneer" and though largely unknown, "his music is the stuff of genius, a poignant and deeply intimate body of work on par with the best of his contemporaries."
Christopher Ruben Studdard (born September 12, 1978), best known as Ruben Studdard, is an American pop, R&B, and gospel singer. He rose to fame as winner of the second season of American Idol. He received a Grammy Award nomination in December 2003 for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "Superstar. " In the years following Idol, Studdard has released four studio albums, including his most recent disc, 2009's Love Is.
Johnny Smith, (born John Henry Smith. on June 25, 1922 in Birmingham, Alabama) is an American cool jazz and mainstream jazz guitarist, although he does not consider himself to be a musician in the idiom.
Diana Nicole DeGarmo is an American singer and Broadway actress. She finished as the runner-up on the third season of the reality/talent-search television series American Idol, narrowly missing the win by about 2% (approximately 1.3 million votes) out of over 65 million votes. At 16, DeGarmo was the second youngest contestant among the set of finalists in the third season after John Stevens; she was a junior at Shiloh High School in Snellville, Georgia.
Brad Cotter (born September 29, 1970) is an American country music singer who won the 2004 season of Nashville Star a talent competition on the USA Network. Signed to Epic Records that year, he released his debut album Patient Man, which produced three singles on the Billboard country charts, including the #35 "I Meant To". An independent EP, Continuity, followed in 2007.
Eddie Kendricks (born Edward James Kendrick; was an American tenor singer and songwriter. Noted for his distinctive falsetto singing style, Kendricks co-founded the Motown singing group The Temptations, and was one of their lead singers from 1960 until 1971. His was the lead voice on such famous songs as "The Way You Do The Things You Do", "Get Ready", and "Just My Imagination".
Erskine Ramsay Hawkins (July 26, 1914—November 11, 1993) was a trumpet player and big band leader from Birmingham, Alabama, dubbed "The 20th Century Gabriel". He is most remembered for composing the jazz standard "Tuxedo Junction" (1939) with saxophonist and arranger Bill Johnson. The song became a popular hit during World War II, rising to #7 nationally (version by the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra) and to #1 nationally (version by the Glenn Miller Orchestra).
David Melvin English (October 12, 1942 – February 23, 1995), better known by the stage name Melvin Franklin, was an American bass singer. Franklin is best known for his role as a member of Motown singing group The Temptations from 1961 to 1994.
Fred Child is an American radio host. He is the host of the classical music radio program Performance Today on American Public Media. He is also the announcer and commentator for the PBS program Live from Lincoln Center. Child was born in Huntsville, Alabama on March 30, 1963, and moved to Portland, Oregon at age five. As a child in Portland, he studied classical piano.
Dennis Edwards (born February 3, 1943) is an soul and R&B singer, most noted for being one of Motown act The Temptations' lead singers replacing David Ruffin. He is the father of Issa Pointer, whose mother is Ruth Pointer of The Pointer Sisters. .