Famous Jazz Musicians

Although there have been many talented and renowned icons of the jazz genre, the follow four artists help to demonstrate the forward motion of jazz’s evolution, as well as the diversity of jazz:

Perhaps one of the most famous jazz singers of all time is Ella Fitzgerald (1916-1996), who became known as the “Queen of Scat” or the “First Lady of Jazz”. During her illustrious 59 year career, she won 13 Grammy Awards, and was awarded the National Medal of Art by Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George H. W. Bush. Ella was also famous for refusing to accept racial discrimination prevalant during much of her life. Even other famous celebrities and artists like Marylin Monroe and Frank Sinatra were among Ella’ fans, and her contributions to jazz and civil rights make her a true American icon.

Another excellent and famous jazz artist was Louis Armstrong (1900-1971), who played the cornet and the trumpet, but is perhaps most known for his distinct, deep singing voice and charismatic personality.

Bessie Smith (1894-1937), like Louis Armstrong, exerted strong influence on the use of vocal in jazz. Bessie Smith was a blues jazz singer who helped popularize jazz. She sang in clubs, briefly on broadway and film, and on records, and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in in 1973, being largely regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era.

Charlie Parker (1920-1955) became renowned when swing was at the height of its popularity. Parker, a saxophone player, helped establish the style of modern jazz which would become popular than swing. Jazz is a very interactive music form, but Parker was famous for his stunning solo performances.

Thelonious Monk (1917-1982) was a pianist and a composer, whose music was innovative and often misunderstood, but helped lay the foundation for modern jazz. Monk appeared on the cover of Times magazine, something that only three other jazz artists have ever done.