Monday, February 16, 2009

Presidential Black Artists

Today is President's Day and this month is Black History Month, so I decided to celebrate the two by creating a list of the top 26 black leaders that has had a major influence in music.

1) Muddy Waters- Blues Legend

If it was not for Muddy Waters, Rock n Roll would probably not exist today. The "Grandfather of Rock n Roll," known for his electric sound, influenced everyone from the Rolling Stones (the group got its name from one of his songs) to Led Zeppelin to the Beatles to Bob Dylan. His influence even spread to other genres, such as Jazz, R n B, folk and country.

Hoochie Coochie Man

I Got My Mojo Working

Rolling Stone

w/ Rolling Stones- I'm a Man

2) Louis Armstrong- Jazz Legend

Mr. Satchmo was not only a great Jazz trumpeter, he was a major influence in the genre with the focus on the idea of solos and the phrasing of sung words. His distinct gravelly voice was easily recognizable and he was able to bend the lyrics and melody to be more expressive. Louis became a major shaper of American popular music as a whole.

What a Wonderful World

When the Saints Go Marching In

Dream a Little Dream

High Society Calypso

3) Ray Charles- R n B/Soul legend

Not only was he a great pianist, singer and songwriter, but he was able to blend many musical styles together, such as Gospel, Country, Pop, Jazz, Blues and Soul, to make a unique sound all his own.

Hit the Road Jack

Georgia on My Mind

I Can't Stop Loving You

4) Ella Fitzgerald- Jazz Legend

The "First Lady of Song" was known for her clear voice, her vocal phrasing of words, "horn-like" voice and as the "Queen of Scat." She also known as the supreme interpreter of the Great American Songbook, including songs written by Cole Porter. Her singing has influenced many Pop and RnB singers, such as Chaka Khan.

A- Tisket, A- Tasket (co-wrote, 1st hit)

I Got A Right to Sing the Blues

w/ Louis Armstrong- Learnin' the Blues

5) Sam Cooke- Soul Legend

The "Father of Soul Music" was able to take what he learned from singing Gospel music to incorporate it into a new style of music, Soul. He was also one of the first black artists to focus on the business side of the music business and owned his own record label and publishing company.

Ain't That Good News

Twistin' the Night Away

w/ Lou Rawls- Bring It On Home to Me

6) Jackie Wilson- RnB/Soul Legend

"Mr. Excitement" was Sam Cooke's idol and also helped to transition RnB into soul music with his extraordinary vocal range. His repertoire included RnB, pop, Doo-wop, Soul and Easy-listening. Moreover, Jackie's stage presence and enrgetic moves influenced many artists later on, such as James Brown and Michael Jackson.

Lonely Teardrops

Higher and Higher

Baby Workout

7) Jimi Hendrix- Rock Legend

Hendrix's guitar playing has influenced many in rock music. His wah-wah pedal and overdriven amplifiers, which produced guitar feedback, has been used in many mainsteam rock bands. Basically, Hendrix's singing-style to guitar has continued with other artists, such as Carlos Santana. (FYI- he was a lefty, like me, so I am happy)

Purple Haze

Foxy Lady

Red House

8) Aretha Franklin- Soul Legend

"The Queen of Soul" is known as one of the greatest singers of all time. Not only is she known for her soul, recordings, but she also has dived into other styles of music, such as Jazz, Rock, RnB, Blues, Pop and Gopsel.

I Say A Little Prayer for You



9) Billie Holiday- Jazz/Blues Legend

"Lady Day" and her singing style greatly influenced vocal styling of many Jazz and Pop singers. Although she did not have the greatest range, her manipulation of wording and tempo and creation of an intimate and emotional atmosphere in her songs made her an important figure in music.

Strange Fruit

God Bless the Child

Easy Living

10) Duke Ellington- Jazz legend

Duke has an influence in all of American Popular music, not just Jazz. He stands as one of the greatest composers and bandleaders of all time.

It Don't Mean a Thing

w/ Ella Fitzgerald- Take The A Train

C Jam Blues

11) Marvin Gaye- RnB/Soul Legend

The talented singer-songwriter was able to break down obstacles at Motown to become one of its first singer/songwriter/producer triple-threats. He inspired other artists at Motown like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson.

Let's Get it On

What's Going On

I Heard It Through the Grapevine

12) Tina Turner- RocknRoll/ Soul/ RnB Legend

I call her the "Queen of Rock n Roll Soul." Even though she started out with pop and soul music, her powerful and gritty voice made her perfcet for rock. As one of the worlds most energetic and popular entertainers, and also known for her amazing legs, she is the most successful female rock artists of all time.

Proud Mary

River Deep, mountain High

Simply the Best

13) James Brown- Soul/Funk Legend

Known as "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business," James Brown's vocals, energetic dancing, and funky music has influenced artists, like Michael Jackson, and other music styles, like Hip-hop, Afro-Beat and Go-go music. His involvment in the Civil Right movement also made him someone to honor.

Sex Machine

Please, Please, Please

Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud

14) Michael Jackson- Pop/RnB Legend

Widely known as "The King of Pop," Michael Jackson has influenced a lot of today's music and singers, especially in Pop and RnB music. Starting with his brothers in Jackson 5 to a solo career, his voice and incredible dance moves have been copied by several artists from Chris Brown to Justin Timberlake.

Billie Jean

She's Out of My Life

Jackson 5- ABC

15) Prince- RnB/Rock Legend

Fusing together RnB an rock styles and playing all the instruments on his albums to create his own style, Prince is definitely a music genius. (sorry, not much on youtube of Prince because of his ban of his music videos on the website).


Do Me Baby

16) Otis Redding- Soul Legend

Redding made Soul music what it is! After Sam Cooke's death, he took the crown, became "The King of Soul" and furthered the style. Also, he has gone on to have an impact on other artists of other music styles, such as The Doors and Steve Perry.

Try a Little Tenderness

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

These Arms of Mine

17) Chuck Berry- Blues/RocknRoll Legend

A pioneer in the creation of Rock n Roll, Chuck helped to make Blues mainstream and combined it with Country and Western music to make it a unique sound. He was able to put the pieces together to create what we know as rock. Berry's guitar techniques, songwriting subjects and showmanship have impacted every single person in rock music.

Johnny B. Goode


w/ Etta James- Rock n Roll Music

18) Stevie Wonder- RnB Legend

Another musical genius! Stevie Wonder, who was signed to Motown at the age of twelve, can play the piano, synthesizer (which he made popular), harmonica, congas, drums, bongos, organ, talk box, melodica, and clavinet and has had more than thirty top-ten hits. As a sociously-conscious singer-songwriter, Wonder, basically every artist in music today has been influenced by him in some way. He is also one of few artists who songs are so difficult to sing because they are so complex and unpredictable, but they have become standards.


w/ Ray Charles- Living for the City

Cherie Amour

19) Little Richard- RnB/RocknRoll Legend

Considered to be a major figure in the transition of RnB to RocknRoll, Little Richard's songs and wild stage presence help to lay the foundation for rock music. He has influenced many Rock, Soul and RnB musicianians. His use of heavily accentuated back-beat, funky saxophone grooves and raspy shouted vocals, moans, screams, and other emotive inflections has been copied over and over. Several artists have stated that they woud not have had a career without Little Richard, including Otis Redding, James Brown, Ray Charles, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Dylan.

Tutti Frutti


Long Tall Sally

20) Run-DMC- Hip-hop Legends

Hip-hop is a relatively recent music form and before this group came along it was not taken seriously as real music. Run-DMc helped to make Hip-hop mainstream and also bridge the gap with other genres of music, especially with their collaboration with Aerosmith on "Walk This Way."

w/ Aerosmith- Walk This Way

Mary Mary

Sucker MCs

21) Smokey Robinson- RnB Legend

A promary figure in the Motown scene, Smokey made something of himself as part of the group, the Miracles, and as a songwriter of many classic RnB hits. He has written hits not just for himself and his group, but for many other artists, like the Temptations, the Four Tops, the Marvelettes and Marvin gaye and there has been numerous covers of his songs.

Track of My Tears

You Really Got a Hold On Me

Ooh Baby Baby

22) Fats Domino- RnB/RocknRoll Legend

Mr. "Fat Man" has had a major influence in rock, too. His boogie-woogie piano style and smooth vocal phrasing put a Southern tinge to Rock music. He was the second to Elvis Presley in the number of records sold and had several hits. From him, we have southern RnB, RocknRoll, Piano Blues and Boogie--woogie music.

Ain't That a Shame

BlueBerry Hill

I'm Walkin'

23) Bo Diddley- Blue/RocknRoll Legend

Influential in the transition from Blues to RocknRoll, Bo is often called "The Originator." He introduced the more heavy, hard-edged sound to Rock. Bo is also known for his innovations of the rectangle guitar and the "Bo Diddley beat," which is similar to the hambone or clave beat. Almost all rock musicians have used the Bo Diddley beat in one way or another.

Hey, Bo Diddley

Who Do You Love

You Can't Just a Book By Looking at the Cover

24) Etta James- Blues/RnB Legend

Etta James has influenced singers from Janis Joplin to Beyonce (not in the personality area). She has delved into Blues, Jazz, RnB, Pop, RocknRoll and Gospel. Her sassy and strong-willed personality has made it ok for female singers to be independent and strong in performances.

I'd Rather Go Blind

I Just Want to Make Love to You

Sugar on the Floor

25) Bob Marley- Reggae/World Music Legend

Influential in Reggae, Rocksteady and Ska, Bob Marley was able to spread these Caribbean-styled genres around the world and make them mainstream. Many artists have covered his songs and recognize Marley as an important influence in music. Socially-conscious, Marley also helped to spread his views on uniting the human race and fighting for justice in the world.

One Love

Is This Love

Redemption Song

26) Public Enemy- Hip-hop Legends

After Run-DMC, Public enemy helped to further Hip-hop into the mainstream and helped to make it a force to be reckoned with. Using new scratching and sample techniques, they started a new era in Hip-hop. Their politically-charged lyrics scared middle-class white Americans, but at least it told the truth and pulled the rug from under those who lived in denial about what is really going on in America. Public Enemy allowed us as a Black people and the entire human race to think for themselves and not just take what is given to them.

Fight the Power

Shut 'Em Down

Don't Believe the Hype

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