Happy birthday Duke Ellington!
Duke Ellington (April 29, 1899-May 24, 1974) was an American jazz pianist and composer. He is ranked as one of the most important musicians to come out of American jazz. He recorded over 1,000 compositions and worked with the best of the jazz world throughout the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. He is remembered as being humble and socially astute, always deflecting attention onto others at public appearances. He was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 1999, along with many other awards and recognitions bestowed upon him during and after his life.
Happy birthday Ma Rainey!
Ma Rainey (April 26, 1886 – December 22, 1939) was one of the first female blues singers in the United States. She started off her career doing minstrel shows, and made a name for herself as a singer and a comedienne. She went on to produce upwards of 90 recordings alongside the likes of Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, and other jazz and blues greats. She was also known for her shrewd business sense, managing two theaters toward the end of her life. She is remembered as one of the most influential African American females in history, defining aspects of American feminism and creativity.
Ella Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996) was an American jazz vocalist. A contemporary of Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, and other big names, Fitzgerald was one of the defining voices in the American jazz canon. She had a prolific career, with some of her most notable recordings made during a partnership with jazz impresario Norman Granz. She is remembered for her poised delivery and diction alongside her careful phrasing and intonation.
Charles (Charlie) Mingus Jr. (April 22, 1922–January 5, 1979) was an American composer and musician. He was hugely influential in the jazz world. First a bassist, Mingus went on to be a prolific composer, known for his affinity for collective improvisation. He greatly admired and was influenced heavily by Duke Ellington, with whom he played for a time. He is also remembered for his short temper, nicknamed "The Angry Man of Jazz."
Happy birthday Billie Holiday!
Billie Holiday (April 7, 1915-July 17, 1959) was an American jazz vocalist and songwriter. She is commonly regarded as one of the greatest jazz singers of all time. Holiday had a difficult and impoverished childhood, born to a teen mother. Some of her biggest hits include "Easy Living," "Good Morning Heartache," and "Strange Fruit." Her voice, untrained and inspired by jazz instrumentalists, was iconic.
Happy birthday Sarah Lois Vaughan!
Sarah Lois Vaughan (March 27, 1924 – April 3, 1990) was a jazz vocalist who was among the first to straddle pop and critical acclaim. She got her start singing and playing organ in her church’s choir in her hometown of Newark, New Jersey. After winning an amateur contest at The Apollo in Harlem, she was picked up by vocalist Billy Eckstein. She went on to sing alongside some of the era’s biggest names. By 1947, Vaughan was forging a solo career and quickly became one of the most beloved vocalists of the twentieth century, selling out large-scale venues well into her sixties.
Happy birthday Nina Simone!
Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), Nina Simone was an American singer who enjoyed success in several genres of music, including jazz, blues, folk, and R&B music. Simone attended Juilliard and intended to pursue a career as a classical pianist, but changed paths when she was turned away from the Curtis Institute of Music. She began performing in clubs, singing American standards, jazz, and blues, and adopted her stage name Nina Simone, after the actress Simone Signoret. Her most popular songs include "I Put A Spell on You", "Lilac Wine", "Feelin' Good", and "Sinnerman". Simone became known as the "High Priestess of Soul".
Happy Birthday, Patty Andrews!
Patricia Marie Andrews (February 16th, 1918 - January 30, 2013) was an American singer in band The Andrews Sisters, alongside her two elder siblings LaVerne and Maxene Andrews. The three sisters sang as a trio for the majority of their lives, sticking together through a long career full of stardom and adventure. When the band officially formed, Patty was only seven years old. The Andrews Sisters would go on to be famous all over the world, and release countless pop hits. Some of these include: Bei Mir Bist Du Schön, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Beer Barrel Polka, Nice Work If You Can Get It, (I'll Be With You) In Apple Blossom Time, Sonny Boy, Jingle Bells, Rum and Coca Cola, Winter Wonderland and I Can Dream, Can't I? as well as many, many more. The Andrews Sisters were the first all-girl trio to reach mainstream popularity and influenced the likes of Bette Midler, The Puppini Sisters, Barry Manilow, The Manhattan Dolls and even Elvis Presley. Patty Andrews died earlier this year after a distinguished career as a talented singer and the sweetheart of the Andrews Clan.
Happy Birthday Stéphane Grappelli!
Stéphane Grappelli (January 26, 1908 – December 1, 1997) was a French jazz violinist and founding member of the Quintette du Hot Club de France with guitarist Django Reinhardt.
Grappelli performed in concerts well into his 80s and collaborated with several generations of influential musicians across several genres, including Duke Ellington, Paul Simon, and Pink Floyd, for whom he recorded a solo for their album Wish You Were Here.
Happy Birthday, Etta James!
Etta James (January 25th, 1938 - January 20th, 2012) was a legendary American singer who performed in the genres of jazz, gospel, blues, soul and rock'n'roll. She is remembered for her many pop hits including: At Last, Roll With Me Henry, Somethings Got A Hold On Me and I'd Rather Go Blind. James' successful career and catalog of 28 studio albums won her six Grammys and seventeen Blues Music Awards. Her life was laced with sadness as she struggled with addiction and drug abuse, but her comeback with album The Seven Year Itch in the late 1980s proved her to be one of the strongest personalities in American music and landed her in many top greatest singers of all time lists.
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