Famous 21st Century Composers

Find out more about the greatest 21st Century Composers, including Paul McCartney, Elton John, John Williams, David Gilmour and James Horner.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite 21st Century Composers

 1 
John Williams
(Composer)

John Williams
5
Birthdate: February 8, 1932
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Queens, New York City

John Williams is an American composer, pianist, trombonist, and conductor. Widely considered the greatest film composer ever, John Williams has played a significant role in the American film industry by composing music for films, such as the Jurassic Park films, Star Wars saga, the Indiana Jones films, and Schindler's List. He has also influenced several other composers like Marcus Paus.

 2 
Hans Zimmer
(Film score composer)

Hans Zimmer
8
Birthdate: September 12, 1957
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany

German film score composer and record producer Hans Zimmer has composed music for over 150 films so far. He developed a love for music as a child and started playing professionally when he was in his teens. He eventually ventured into films. He is the recipient of four Grammy Awards and three Classical BRIT Awards.

 3 
Quincy Jones
(Musician and Second Most Oscar-Nominated African American)

Quincy Jones
5
Birthdate: March 14, 1933
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Regarded as one of the most popular and influential jazz musicians of the previous century, Quincy Jones is known for his work with other legendary artists like Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra. As the first African-American to find success at the Academy Awards ceremony, Quincy has influenced a host of black musicians and songwriters.

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 4 

Andrew Lloyd Webber
4
Birthdate: March 22, 1948
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kensington, London
Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber reinvented the musical and created masterpieces such as Don't Cry for Me Argentina from Evita and Memory from Cats. He is one of 16 people to have won the Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, and Tony. He owns one of the biggest theater companies in London.

 5 
Ennio Morricone
(One of the Greatest Film Composers of All Time)

Ennio Morricone
4
Birthdate: November 10, 1928
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: July 6, 2020

Regarded as one of the world’s greatest film composers, Ennio Morricone was an Italian composer, orchestrator and conductor who scored music for over 500 films in his career spanning seven decades. Morricone covered a wide range of music styles and is best known for scores in the Dollar Trilogy and Once Upon a Time in the West.

 6 
Stephen Sondheim
(American composer)

Stephen Sondheim
6
Birthdate: March 22, 1930
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City
Died: November 26, 2021

Stephen Sondheim is an American lyricist and composer. Widely regarded as one of the 20th century's most prominent figures in musical theatre, Sondheim is credited with reinventing the American musical. In 1981, he founded Young Playwrights Inc. to encourage young people to write for the theatre. An openly gay composer, Sondheim also serves as an inspiration to the LGBT community.

 7 
Ray Charles
(Singer-songwriter)

Ray Charles
5
Birthdate: September 23, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Albany, Georgia, United States
Died: June 10, 2004

Ray Charles went on to become a great singer-songwriter, composer, and pianist, despite suffering blindness due to glaucoma early in his life. One of the most respected and decorated musicians of all time, Ray Charles has been named in lists, such as 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. He pioneered the soul music genre, which remains his greatest contribution.

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 8 
Elton John
(Singer, Pianist and Composer- One of the Best-Selling Artists of All Time)

Elton John
6
Birthdate: March 25, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Pinner, England
The supremely gifted English singer, songwriter, pianist and composer, Elton John has entertained music lovers globally since the 1970s. His phenomenal talent make him one of the best-selling music artists in the world. Not to forget his tribute to Princess Diana, Candle in the Wind 1997, which till date is one of the best-selling singles in the UK and the US.

 9 
Billy Joel
(Singer, Composer)

Billy Joel
5
Birthdate: May 9, 1949
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

Popularly known as the Piano Man, Billy Joel is a singer-songwriter and musician. Having sold more than 150 million records worldwide, Billy is one of the best-selling musicians of all time. He is also America's third best-selling solo artist and the sixth best-selling recording artist. He is also known for his multiple relationships with popular women.

 10 
Bjork
(Famous as the Lead Singer of Alternative Rock Band 'The Sugarcubes')

Bjork
4
Birthdate: November 21, 1965
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Reykjavík, Iceland

Bjork is an Icelandic singer, record producer, songwriter, DJ, and actress. She is best known for her association with the now-defunct yet popular band, The Sugarcubes. The bestselling Icelandic singer-songwriter of all time, Bjork was named in Time magazine's most influential people in the world list in 2015. Over the course of her illustrious career, Bjork has received several awards.

 11 
Joan Jett
(Singer-songwriter)

Joan Jett
4
Birthdate: September 22, 1958
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, United States

Joan Jett, also known as The Queen of Rock 'n' Roll, is the frontwoman of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, best known for their rendition of the Arrows song I Love Rock 'n Roll, which topped the Billboard Hot 100. Jett also released the hit Cherry Bomb with the Runaways

 12 
Philip Glass
(Founder of the Philip Glass Ensemble)

Philip Glass
4
Birthdate: January 31, 1937
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

 13 
Danny Elfman
(Composer)

Danny Elfman
5
Birthdate: May 29, 1953
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Composer, singer, songwriter, and record producer, Danny Elfman is best known for his association with the new wave band Oingo Boingo. He has written over 100 feature film scores and has composed music for numerous TV shows and stage productions. He is the recipient of two Emmy Awards and one Grammy and has been nominated for the Academy Award.

 14 

David McCallum
4
Birthdate: September 19, 1933
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland

David McCallum is a Scottish musician and actor who gained recognition for portraying Illya Kuryakin in the popular spy fiction TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. He gained international recognition for playing Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard in the action police procedural TV series NCIS. David McCallum has also contributed as a writer, publishing a novel titled Once a Crooked Man.

 15 
Alan Thicke
(Film actor, Composer)

Alan Thicke
4
Birthdate: March 1, 1947
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada
Died: December 13, 2016

Best known for his star role in the television sitcom Growing Pains, Alan Thicke was a Canadian actor, songwriter and television host, who began his career as a series regular in It's Our Stuff, eventually appearing in numerous films and television productions. Also a popular game and talk show host, he patronized many NGOs including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

 16 
Joe Walsh
(Guitarist, Singer)

Joe Walsh
4
Birthdate: November 20, 1947
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wichita, Kansas, United States

Joe Walsh is an American guitarist, songwriter, and singer. Over the years Walsh has contributed to the success of popular rock bands such as Eagles and James Gang. In 1998, he was made an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2011, he was ranked 54th on Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list.

 17 
Tom Waits
(Musician, Composer, & Songwriter)

Tom Waits
4
Birthdate: December 7, 1949
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Pomona, California, United States

Tom Waits is a musician and songwriter. His lyrics, which are delivered in his trademark gravelly voice, often focus on the underbelly of society. His story of being born in a middle-class family to becoming one of the greatest songwriters of all time serves as an inspiration to many. He has also influenced several musicians and attained a cult following.

 18 

Luther Vandross
4
Birthdate: April 20, 1951
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City
Died: July 1, 2005

Luther Vandross was an American record producer and singer-songwriter. As a background vocalist, Vandross contributed to the success of several songs recorded by artists like David Bowie, Diana Ross, and Judy Collins. Regarded as a singer with one of the greatest voices in recorded history, Luther Vandross' works have influenced many artists like D'Angelo, Jaheim, Ne-Yo, John Legend, and Usher.

 19 
Alanis Morisette
(Singer-Songwriter)

Alanis Morisette
6
Birthdate: June 1, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ottawa, Canada

Alanis Morisette is a Canadian-American singer-songwriter and actress. Renowned for her mezzo-soprano voice, Morisette has been named by Rolling Stone as the Queen of Alt-Rock Angst. A recipient of 13 Juno Awards and seven Grammy Awards, Morisette has released several successful albums, including Jagged Little Pill, which was named in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

 20 
Don Henley
(Musician, Singer)

Don Henley
4
Birthdate: July 22, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Gilmer, Texas, United States

Don Henley is an American record producer, singer, songwriter, and musician. A founding member of Eagles, Henley contributed immensely to the success of the band. Don Henley has also been successful as a solo artist, selling more than 10 million albums and winning two Grammy Awards. In 2008, Rolling Stone magazine named him among the greatest singers of all time.

 21 
Roger Waters
(Composer, Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Screenwriter, Singer, Pianist, Record producer)

Roger Waters
4
Birthdate: September 6, 1943
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Surrey

Co-founder of the rock band, Pink Floyd, Roger Waters is celebrated singer, songwriter and composer. Beginning his career with rhythm guitar, he initially served solely as a bassist in Pink Floyd before emerging as their lyricist, co-lead vocalist, and conceptual leader. Later he left the group due to creative difference and embarked on his solo career, releasing numerous albums and singles

 22 
Chaka Khan
(Singer)

Chaka Khan
4
Birthdate: March 23, 1953
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois
Ten-time Grammy-winning funk/R&B/disco artist Chaka Khan, or the Queen of Funk, soared to fame as the frontwoman of the band Rufus. Known for her hit track I Feel for You, Khan has sold 70 million records and has ranked 17th on VH1’s 100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll list.

 23 
Virgil Abloh
(Fashion designer)

Virgil Abloh
4
Birthdate: September 30, 1980
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Rockford, Illinois, U.S.

Virgil Abloh is not just a designer but also a qualified architect. He has been a DJ, too. Apart from heading Louis Vuitton's menswear collection as its artistic director, he also became the first Black designer to lead a major fashion brand. He has also launched the luxury streetwear label Off-White.

 24 
Trent Reznor
(Frontman and founder of the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails)

Trent Reznor
4
Birthdate: May 17, 1965
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New Castle, Pennsylvania, United States

Trent Reznor is an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and composer. Reznor is credited with founding the popular band Nine Inch Nails, where he serves as the principal songwriter, lead vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist. Trent Reznor is also credited with mentoring Marilyn Manson and has contributed to the latter's albums. . 

 25 
Damon Albarn
(Guitarist, Singer, Musician, Composer, Songwriter)

Damon Albarn
4
Birthdate: March 23, 1968
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Whitechapel

Grammy-winning English singer Damon Albarn has previously been part of two major bands, Blur and Gorillaz, as their lead vocalist and primary songwriter. He has also performed as part of the supergroup The Good, the Bad & the Queen. His solo album Everyday Robots was nominated for a Mercury Award.

 26 
Tom Morello
(Musician)

Tom Morello
4
Birthdate: May 30, 1964
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City, United States

Tom Morello is an American musician, rapper, singer, actor, songwriter, and political activist. Morello is best known for his association with Rage Against the Machine, which he co-founded with Zack de la Rocha. Renowned for his creative and unique guitar playing style, Tom Morello was ranked among the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine.

 27 
Rick Rubin
(Record Producer)

Rick Rubin
4
Birthdate: March 10, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lido Beach

A record producer, Rick Rubin is the former co-president of Columbia Records and a co-founder of Def Jam Recordings. By promoting the musical groups  Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, and Public Enemy, he helped popularize hip hop music. He has been named on Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World.

 28 
Steven Van Zandt
(Musician, Actor)

Steven Van Zandt
4
Birthdate: November 22, 1950
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Winthrop, Massachusetts, United States

Steven Van Zandt is an American singer, musician, songwriter, actor, producer, and activist. Steven is renowned for his association with E Street Band. As a member of the band, Steven was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. Also known for his philanthropic efforts, Steven works with a nonprofit organization called Little Kids Rock.

 29 
Brian Eno
(Musician, Record producer)

Brian Eno
4
Birthdate: May 15, 1948
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Melton, Suffolk, England
Brian Eno created "The Microsoft Sound" for Windows 95 and co-developed the card-based creativity-improving technique Oblique Strategies. His ambient music album Reflection was nominated for a Grammy, and his visual installations have been projected on structures such as the Sydney Opera House. He also co-founded the Long Now Foundation.

 30 
Mos Def
(Rapper, Actor)

Mos Def
4
Birthdate: December 11, 1973
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

 31 
Ronnie James Dio
(Former heavy metal singer, songwriter and composer)

Ronnie James Dio
4
Birthdate: July 10, 1942
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Portsmouth, New Hampshire, United States
Died: May 16, 2010

 32 

Bret Michaels
4
Birthdate: March 15, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Butler, Pennsylvania

Singer-songwriter and musician Bret Michaels first gained fame as the frontman of the rock band Poison. He also performs as a solo artist and has released many albums. He is an occasional actor as well and has appeared in numerous films and TV shows.  

 33 
Sammy Hagar
(Singer-Songwriter,)

Sammy Hagar
4
Birthdate: October 13, 1947
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Salinas, California, United States

 34 
David Gilmour
(Guitarist, Singer-songwriter, Songwriter, Multi-instrumentalist, Record producer)

David Gilmour
4
Birthdate: March 6, 1946
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cambridge ,England

Pink Floyd guitarist/singer David Gilmour helped the band become one of the best-selling acts ever. One of Rolling Stone magazine’s greatest guitarists of all time, he has also been an advocate of animal rights and other causes. He once auctioned off 120 guitars, including his iconic Black Strat, for charity.

 35 
Don Shirley
(Composer)

Don Shirley
4
Birthdate: January 29, 1927
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pensacola, Florida, USA
Died: April 6, 2013

Don Shirley was an American jazz and classical pianist and composer. He is best remembered for his association with Cadence Records where he recorded many albums during the 1950s and 1960s. Apart from performing in numerous concert tours, Shirley also wrote organ symphonies and piano concerti. Shirley's friendship with his bodyguard Tony Lip was dramatized in the film Green Book.

 36 
Nile Rodgers
(Guitarist, Composer, Songwriter, Record producer, Film score composer)

Nile Rodgers
4
Birthdate: September 19, 1952
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York City

 37 
A. R. Rahman
(Composer)

A. R. Rahman
7
Birthdate: January 6, 1967
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chennai, India

A. R. Rahman is an Indian film composer, singer, songwriter, and record producer. Rahman is one of the most decorated and celebrated musicians in Indian history. He was won several prestigious awards including two Grammy Awards, two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and a BAFTA Award. In 2009, he was named among the 100 most influential people in Time.

 38 
Sufjan Stevens
(Singer-songwriter most famous for his Illinois album, which includes the hit Chicago)

Sufjan Stevens
4
Birthdate: July 1, 1975
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States

 39 
Nancy Wilson
(Musician)

Nancy Wilson
4
Birthdate: March 16, 1954
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States

Nancy Wilson is a celebrated musician, singer, songwriter and composer.  A guitar virtuoso from the age of ten, she joined the rock band Heart in early 1970s, releasing numerous albums with them. She released her first solo studio album in 2021.

 40 
Michel'le
(Singer-Songwriter)

Michel'le
4
Birthdate: December 5, 1970
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Compton, United States

 41 
James Horner
(Composer, conductor, and orchestrator of film scores)

James Horner
4
Birthdate: August 14, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Died: June 22, 2015

 42 
Randy Newman
(Singer-songwriter & Pianist)

Randy Newman
4
Birthdate: November 28, 1943
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

 43 

Terry Jones
4
Birthdate: February 1, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire, Wales
Died: January 21, 2020
Starting his career as a comedy writer, actor-director Terry Jones later soared to fame as part of the Monty Python comedy team. An avid historian, too, he wrote several books and presented TV documentaries on the topic. In his later years, the BAFTA Cymru award winner struggled with dementia. 

 44 
Kenny G
(Saxophonist)

Kenny G
4
Birthdate: June 5, 1956
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, United States

Kenneth Bruce Gorelick, better known as Kenny G, is a best-selling jazz saxophonist who has sold over 75 million records and even owns a line of saxophones. He is also a certified pilot and a skilled golfer who has participated in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am seven times.

 45 
Kenny Loggins
(Singer-songwriter,)

Kenny Loggins
4
Birthdate: January 7, 1948
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Everett, Washington, United States

 46 
Pat Boone
(Actor, Singer, Singer-songwriter, Composer)

Pat Boone
4
Birthdate: June 1, 1934
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Jacksonville

 47 

Björn Ulvaeus
5
Birthdate: April 25, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gothenburg, Sweden

Singer and songwriter Björn Ulvaeus is perhaps best known as a member of the ABBA, one of the most successful musical groups of all time. Equally famous as a co-composer and co-producer of several films and musicals, he is currently serving as the President of CISAC, trying to ensure that creators are fairly compensated and properly credited for their works.

 48 

Teddy Pendergrass
4
Birthdate: March 26, 1950
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kingstree, South Carolina, USA
Died: January 13, 2010

 49 
Donovan
(Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Composer, Autobiographer, Writer, Poet, Record producer, Film score composer)

Donovan
4
Birthdate: May 10, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland

Donovan is a Scottish guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is best known for developing and popularizing a distinctive and eclectic style that blended many genres, such as folk, jazz, pop, calypso, and psychedelic rock. Donovan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

 50 
Yanni
(Composer)

Yanni
4
Birthdate: November 14, 1954
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kalamata, Greece

Yanni is a Greek keyboardist, pianist, composer, and music producer. He achieved international recognition by organizing and producing concerts at historic monuments, such as Taj Mahal, Burj Khalifa, and the Great Sphinx of Giza. Adhering to his one world, one people philosophy, Yanni works with musicians of various nationalities to create music that incorporates an eclectic fusion of ethnic sounds.