Famous American Composers

The musical heritage of America is rich and overflowing with supremely endowed musicians and composers who have composed some of the most enduring musical pieces. A potpourri of talent, American soil has seen meteoric rise in the field of music, thanks to the brilliant American composers who with their skill at musical play created some of the most mind-blowing musical compositions that world has ever listened to. Interestingly, American composers have touched the lives and moods of one and all with their compositions – witty lyrics and catchy melodies for that playful listening spree or soulful renditions backed by heart-melting words for those moments of love or even down under lyrics and soft music for the feeling of blue. And any discussion on America composers and compositions cannot be fulfilled without the mention of Stephen Foster, father of American music. He is regarded as the first professional American songwriter and is the proud composers of more than 200 songs, including two state songs. Other eminently talented and noted American composers include George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Richard Rogers, John Philip Sousa, Irving Berlin, Burt Bucharach, Amy Beach and so on. Check this section to know about the life and works of famous American composers.

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

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 1 John Williams

John Williams.
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: February 8, 1932
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Floral Park

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 Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones.
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Famous As: Musician, Conductor, Producer, Arranger, Composer, Film Composer
Birthdate: March 14, 1933
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: 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.

 3 Billy Joel

Billy Joel.
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: May 9, 1949
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: The Bronx, 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.

 4 Ray Charles

Ray Charles.
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter & Musician
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.

 5 Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein.
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Famous As: Conductor, Composer
Birthdate: August 25, 1918
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lawrence, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 14, 1990

Leonard Bernstein was an American composer, music educator, conductor, pianist, author, and humanitarian. One of the most important cultural personalities of 20th century America, Bernstein influenced many generations of musicians. He is also credited with mentoring famous conductors like John Mauceri, Herbert Blomstedt, Alexander Frey, Marin Alsop, and Edo de Waart among many others.

 6 George Gershwin

George Gershwin.
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: September 26, 1898
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: July 11, 1937

George Gershwin was an American pianist, composer, and painter. His work Porgy and Bess is widely regarded as an American cultural classic and one of the 20th century's most important American operas. Many of his compositions have been used in films and television series. His life and work inspired the 1945 biographical movie, Rhapsody in Blue.

 7 Stephen Sondheim

Stephen Sondheim.
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Famous As: American composer
Birthdate: March 22, 1930
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City

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.

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 8 Don Henley

Don Henley
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Famous As: Singer, Composer, Musician, Drummer, Pianist, Songwriter
Birthdate: July 22, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Gilmer, Texas, United States

 9 Danny Elfman

Danny Elfman.
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: May 29, 1953
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California

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.

 10 Tom Waits

Tom Waits.
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Famous As: Singer, Composer, Actor
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.

 11 Adrienne Bailon

Adrienne Bailon
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Famous As: Actor, Singer, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Dancer, Television actor
Birthdate: October 24, 1983
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lower East Side

 12 Luther Vandross

Luther Vandross.
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Famous As: Singer
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.

 13 Trent Reznor

Trent Reznor
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Famous As: Singer, Composer, Pianist, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Record producer
Birthdate: May 17, 1965
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Mercer

 14 Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan.
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Famous As: Singer
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.

 15 Tom Morello

Tom Morello
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Famous As: Guitarist, Singer-songwriter, Musician, Actor, Composer, Trade unionist
Birthdate: May 30, 1964
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City

 16 Rick Rubin

Rick Rubin.
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Famous As: Record Producer
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.

 17 Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Singer, Composer, Pianist, Writer, Songwriter, Jazz musician
Birthdate: September 13, 1977
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Manhattan

 18 Dimebag Darrell

Dimebag Darrell
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Famous As: Guitarist, Composer, Musician
Birthdate: August 20, 1966
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dallas
Died: December 8, 2004

 19 John Coltrane

John Coltrane.
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Famous As: Saxophonist, Composer
Birthdate: September 23, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hamlet
Died: July 17, 1967
Jazz saxophonist John Coltrane is remembered for his significant influence on modern jazz. He was initially part of the Navy band and eventually collaborated with musicians such as Miles Davis. He won a Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and was canonized by the African Orthodox Church.

 20 Mos Def

Mos Def
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Famous As: Singer, Actor, Songwriter, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Rapper, Television actor, Record producer, Film actor
Birthdate: December 11, 1973
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

 21 Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky

Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky.
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Famous As: Composer, Pianist & Conductor
Birthdate: June 17, 1882
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lomonosov, Russia
Died: April 6, 1971

Four-time Grammy-winning Russian composer and pianist Igor Stravinsky is regarded as one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. He is remembered for his ballets The Firebird, Petrushka, and The Rite of Spring. He broke the traditional flow of music and incorporated his own style.

 22 Carroll O’Connor

Carroll O’Connor.
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 2, 1924
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States
Died: June 21, 2001

Carroll O'Connor was an American actor, director, and producer. In a TV career that spanned 40 years, O'Connor popularized several fictional characters, including Archie Bunker from the sitcom All in the Family, for which he received four Emmy Awards. In 1996, he was ranked 38th on the 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time list published by TV Guide.

 23 Maynard James Keenan

Maynard James Keenan
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Famous As: Singer, Musician, Record producer, Composer
Birthdate: April 17, 1964
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ravenna

 24 Ronnie James Dio

Ronnie James Dio
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Famous As: Singer, Composer
Birthdate: July 10, 1942
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Portsmouth
Died: May 16, 2010

 25 Sammy Hagar

Sammy Hagar
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Famous As: Singer, Singer-songwriter, Musician, Guitarist, Composer
Birthdate: October 13, 1947
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Monterey

 26 Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Composer, Oboist, Banjoist, Record producer, Guitarist, Pianist
Birthdate: July 1, 1975
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Detroit

 27 Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers
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Famous As: Guitarist, Composer, Songwriter, Record producer, Film score composer
Birthdate: September 19, 1952
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York City

 28 John Fogerty

John Fogerty
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Famous As: Singer, Musician
Birthdate: May 28, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Berkeley, California, United States

 29 Brad Douglas Paisley

Brad Douglas Paisley.
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Famous As: American singer-songwriter
Birthdate: October 28, 1972
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Glen Dale

Brad Douglas Paisley is an American singer-songwriter. One of the most decorated male country music singers of the current generation, Paisley has won multiple American Music Awards, Grammy Awards, Country Music Association Awards, and Academy of Country Music Awards. Brad Paisley is also known for his skills as a guitarist and one particular model of guitar is named after him.

 30 James Horner

James Horner
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Famous As: Composer, Conductor, Musician, Orchestrateur, Film score composer
Birthdate: August 14, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Los Angeles
Died: June 22, 2015

 31 Joe Walsh

Joe Walsh
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Famous As: Guitarist
Birthdate: November 20, 1947
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wichita

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.

 32 Ronnie Van Zant

Ronnie Van Zant
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Famous As: Singer, Singer-songwriter, Musician, Composer, Guitarist
Birthdate: January 15, 1948
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Jacksonville
Died: October 20, 1977

 33 Susanna Hoffs

Susanna Hoffs
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Famous As: Actor, Singer-songwriter, Film producer, Musician, Singer, Composer, Television actor
Birthdate: January 17, 1959
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Los Angeles

 34 John Cage

John Cage.
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Famous As: Composer, Writer
Birthdate: September 5, 1912
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Died: August 12, 1992
John Cage was one of the most influential avant-garde composers of the post-World War II era. He pioneered many innovative techniques in music, such as the prepared piano and electroacoustic music. His composition 4′33″ involved musicians sitting silently, without playing any instrument, while the audience heard environmental sounds. 

 35 Debbie Gibson

Debbie Gibson
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Singer, Actor, Composer, Film producer, Musician, Record producer, Pianist, Television actor
Birthdate: August 31, 1970
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brooklyn

 36 Bret Michaels

Bret Michaels.
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Famous As: Singer
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.  

 37 Virgil Abloh

Virgil Abloh
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Famous As: Fashion designer
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.

 38 David Lee Roth

David Lee Roth
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Famous As: Singer, Musician
Birthdate: October 10, 1954
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bloomington, Indiana, United States

David Lee Roth is an American rock singer, songwriter, musician, and former radio personality. Renowned for his energetic stage persona, Roth was a long-time member of the popular hard rock band Van Halen where he served as the lead singer. In 2007, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

 39 Nancy Wilson (Rock Musician)

Nancy Wilson (Rock Musician)
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Famous As: Musician
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 Pat Boone

Pat Boone
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Famous As: Actor, Singer, Singer-songwriter, Composer
Birthdate: June 1, 1934
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Jacksonville

 41 Jerry Reed

Jerry Reed
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Musician
Birthdate: March 20, 1937
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Died: September 1, 2008

Jerry Reed was an American guitarist, country music singer, songwriter, composer, and actor. He won three Grammy Awards and two Country Music Association awards during his illustrious career. In 2017, he was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Jerry Reed was also inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum.

 42 Krist Novoselic

Krist Novoselic
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: May 16, 1965
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Compton, California, United States

 43 Glenn Miller

Glenn Miller
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Famous As: Trombonist
Birthdate: March 1, 1904
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Clarinda, Iowa, United States
Died: December 15, 1944

 44 Philip Glass

Philip Glass
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Famous As: American composer
Birthdate: January 31, 1937
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Baltimore

 45 Teddy Pendergrass

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

 46 Levon Helm

Levon Helm
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Famous As: Singer, Musician, Autobiographer, Composer, Actor, Mandolinist, Drummer, Songwriter
Birthdate: May 26, 1940
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Elaine
Died: April 19, 2012

 47 Grey DeLisle

Grey DeLisle
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Famous As: Singer, Actor, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Television actor, Film actor
Birthdate: August 24, 1973
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Fort Ord

 48 Michel'le

Michel'le
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Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: December 5, 1970
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Compton, United States

 49 Tori Amos

Tori Amos.
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Famous As: Musician and Singer
Birthdate: August 22, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Newton
Alternative rock singer Tori Amos is known for her songs that highlight issues such as feminism. Amos was the youngest to win a music scholarship to the Peabody Institute. She performed with the group Y Kant Tori Read before going solo. She is associated with RAINN, a sexual abuse helpline. 

 50 Carl Wilson

Carl Wilson
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Famous As: Musician, Guitarist, Record producer, Composer
Birthdate: December 21, 1946
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hawthorne
Died: February 6, 1998