Are you just discovering your love of jazz and wondering which artists you should check out? In this blog, we’ll go over the style and work of some of the most famous beloved classic jazz singers to get you started! In fact, most of these names are so iconic, you’ve likely already heard of them — even if you’re not an avid jazz listener. Allow me to tell you more about these artists that’ll be sure to get you out of your seat and moving to the music!
Miles Davis is an iconic name in jazz (as can be said for everyone on the list!). Read about nearly any style of jazz, and you’ll likely see Davis’s name in there. He was on the forefront of many jazz styles throughout his five-decade career, from bebop to cool jazz to jazz funk and more. He was the winner of eight Grammy Awards.
Arguably the most well-known woman in jazz, Ella Fitzgerald was a force to be reckoned with! She was a 14-time Grammy Award winner. Known as “The Queen of Jazz,” Fitzgerald began singing in 1933 and officially began her solo career in 1942. She was especially well-known for her exceptional scat singing and ballad-style singing. She even appeared in a jazz film!
Louis Armstrong earned his fame for both his singing ability and his trumpeting. Possibly the best known trumpeter in jazz, he got his start in King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band in New Orleans. He branched off on his own in the mid-to-late 1920s, putting out iconic pieces such as “Wild Man Blues” and “Hotter Than That.” His innovation with the trumpet earned him quick recognition and fame.
Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole’s instrument of choice was the piano, on which he honed his particularly clean playing style. Check out his songs “It’s Only a Paper Moon” and “Nature Boy.” Nat King Cole was the first African-American to host a variety show, The Nat King Cole Show, in 1956, where he got to showcase his humorous, personable talking style. You can find some of his episodes on YouTube!
Billie Holiday’s career started in the 1930s, and her uniquely beautiful singing style earned her quick recognition. She got her start singing in Harlem nightclubs. She never had any formal training; her innate sense of melody and rhythm was all her. She rose to stardom and even got to sign with other big names like Louis Armstrong. Sadly, she passed away at the young age of 44, but her legacy and influence live on.