Famous American Jazz Singers

Do you know what’s common between Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, George Benson and Norah Jones? Apart from the fact that they all are iconic American musicians, they belong to the genre of jazz music. An indigenous art form, jazz music came into prominence during the early twentieth century. An extension of American style and attitude, the music type soon found itself everywhere, from the bustling nightclubs to the lonely sidewalks, the serious classrooms and the funny television and radio shows. And to top it all, it has since then become a reflection of American culture. Quite amazing isn’t it, for an art form to not just emerge but become a cultural phenomenon! Symbolic of the cultural tiffs between the conservationists and modernists, much of its grandeur and magnificence rests on supremely talented jazz singers who glorified the genre to be what it is today. American jazz singers have made immeasurable contribution to the American music. With their distinctive voice and creative innovations, they have helped jazz to become a musical point baton that it is today. Breeze through this section and know about the life and music of iconic American jazz singers.

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 Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder
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Famous As: Singer-Songwriter and Musician
Birthdate: May 13, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saginaw, Michigan, United States

American singer and songwriter, Stevie Wonder, is one of most influential and the best-selling musicians of all time. That Girl, Gotta Have You, I Just Called to Say I Love You, Part-Time Lover and Happy Birthday are some of his chartbuster songs. He has won many awards and accolades, including 25 Grammy Awards.

 2 Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: April 7, 1915
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: July 17, 1959
Jazz legend Billie Holiday had a tumultuous childhood and ended up in prison due to prostitution. Upon her release, at 14, she started singing using her pseudonym and performed at sold-out Carnegie Hall shows. Nicknamed Lady Day, she was riddled with alcohol and drug issues. She won four posthumous Grammys.

 3 Leslie Odom Jr.

Leslie Odom Jr.
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 6, 1981
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Queens, New York City, New York

A passion for acting and singing since his early life, made Leslie Odom Jr an accomplished artist of stage, television, films and music industry. Debuting at the age of seventeen, his best performance came with the role of Aaron Burr in Broadway musical Hamilton. The talented artist also has three solo jazz albums and a published book in his resume.

 4 Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald
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Famous As: Jazz Singer
Birthdate: April 25, 1917
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Newport News, Virginia, United States
Died: June 15, 1996

Ella Fitzgerald was an American jazz singer. Referred to as the Queen of Jazz, First Lady of Song, and Lady Ella, Fitzgerald was renowned for her impeccable diction, purity of tone, timing, and intonation. The winner of Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Arts, Fitzgerald's legacy lives on several years after her death.

 5 Bobby Darin

Bobby Darin
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Famous As: Pop vocalist who released the hits "Mack the Knife," "Dream Lover," and "Beyond the Sea."
Birthdate: May 14, 1936
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: East Harlem, New York, United States
Died: December 20, 1973

 6 Harry Connick Jr.

Harry Connick Jr.
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Famous As: American singer
Birthdate: September 11, 1967
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Grammy-winning singer-actor Harry Connick Jr. was born to a lawyer mother and an attorney father, who also owned a record store. He mastered the piano as a child and formed his first jazz band at 10. He later soared to fame with the multi-platinum soundtrack of When Harry Met Sally...

 7 Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: January 17, 1927
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: North, South Carolina, United States
Died: December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt was an American actress, comedian, dancer, and singer-songwriter. Renowned for her distinctive singing style, Kitt recorded several chartbusting songs during the 1950s. Also a well-known activist, Eartha Kitt established a non-profit organization called the Kittsville Youth Foundation, which helped underprivileged youths in Los Angeles. She was also an ardent advocate for same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.

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 8 Johnny Mathis

Johnny Mathis
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: September 30, 1935
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Gilmer, Texas, United States

Johnny Mathis is an American singer and songwriter. Best known for his contribution to popular music, Mathis has been honored with many awards including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Society of Singers Lifetime Achievement Award. Johnny Mathis is also renowned for his philanthropic efforts; he has supported such organizations as the American Cancer Society and Muscular Dystrophy Association.

 9 Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: April 15, 1894
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States
Died: September 26, 1937

Bessie Smith was an American singer who gained popularity during the Jazz Age. Dubbed the Empress of the Blues, Smith was one of the most famous blues singers of the 1920s and 1930s. Counted among the greatest singers of her generation, Bessie Smith was a major influence on several other singers. Her life and work inspired the TV film Bessie.

 10 Rhonda Ross Kendrick

Rhonda Ross Kendrick
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: August 14, 1971
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Rhonda Ross Kendrick, daughter of singer Diana Ross and Motown founder Berry Gordy, is best known for her Emmy-nominated portrayal of Toni Burrell in the soap Another World. She has also appeared in series such as The Temptations and Cosby. She grew up believing Robert Ellis Silberstein was her father. 

 11 Boz Scaggs

Boz Scaggs
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: June 8, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Canton, Ohio, USA

 12 Macy Gray

Macy Gray
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 6, 1967
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Canton, Ohio, United States

 13 Cab Calloway

Cab Calloway
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: December 25, 1907
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Rochester
Died: November 18, 1994

Jazz singer and dancer, Cab Calloway, was a famous vocalist of the swing era.  From the early 1930s to the late 1940s, he led a very popular band that included musicians like  Dizzy Gillespie, Jonah Jones, and Adolphus "Doc" Cheatham. A man of color, he became the first African-American musician to sell a million records from a single song.

 14 Della Reese

Della Reese
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Famous As: Singer, Actress
Birthdate: July 6, 1931
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Black Bottom, Detroit, United States
Died: November 19, 2017
Jazz and gospel singer and actor Della Reese, who was also an ordained minister, gained fame with tracks such as Don't You Know? and Some of her best-known films were Harlem Nights and A Thin Line Between Love and Hate. She played Tess in the series Touched by an Angel

 15 Linda Purl

Linda Purl
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 2, 1955
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Greenwich, Connecticut, USA

 16 Bobby Womack

Bobby Womack
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 4, 1944
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Died: June 27, 2014

Bobby Womack began his career with his family band The Valentinos, after gaining a record deal with The Soul Stirrers singer Sam Cooke. He later began a solo career and became famous for tracks such as Lookin’ for a Love. He also contributed to the soundtrack of Across 110th Street.

 17 Roberta Flack

Roberta Flack
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: February 10, 1939
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Black Mountain, North Carolina, United States

 18 Sunny Ozell

Sunny Ozell
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Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: December 23, 1978
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Reno, Nevada, U.S.

 19 Al Jarreau

Al Jarreau
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: March 12, 1940
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Died: February 12, 2017

 20 Peggy Lee

Peggy Lee
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: May 26, 1920
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Jamestown, North Dakota, United States
Died: January 21, 2002

 21 Louis Prima

Louis Prima
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: December 7, 1910
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died: August 24, 1978

 22 Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Sister Rosetta Tharpe
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 20, 1915
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cotton Plant, Arkansas, USA
Died: October 9, 1973

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was an American recording artist, guitarist, and singer-songwriter. Characterized by a mixture of electric guitar and spiritual lyrics, Tharpe's music played an influential role in the development of rock and roll. Her music influenced several rock-and-roll musicians like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Chuck Berry. She is often referred to as the Godmother of rock and roll.

 23 Pat Metheny

Pat Metheny
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Famous As: Guitarist
Birthdate: August 12, 1954
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lee's Summit

 24 Rachael MacFarlane

Rachael MacFarlane
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Famous As: Voice actress who became known for her voice work on shows like Codename: Kids Next Door, Family Guy, and American Dad
Birthdate: March 21, 1976
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kent, Connecticut, United States

 25 Nina Simone

Nina Simone
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: February 21, 1933
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tryon, North Carolina, United States
Died: April 21, 2008

Widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Nina Simone was a pioneering recording artist whose career was characterized by improvisational genius and fits of outrage. Nina continues to be an important musician and has influenced several artists like Elton John, Adele, David Bowie, Madonna, and Aretha Franklin. She was also a civil rights activist.

 26 Laura Nyro

Laura Nyro
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Famous As: Songwriter
Birthdate: October 18, 1947
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, USA
Died: April 8, 1997

 27 Patty Andrews

Patty Andrews
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: February 16, 1918
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Mound, Minnesota, United States
Died: January 13, 2013

 28 Sarah Vaughan

Sarah Vaughan
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 27, 1924
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States
Died: April 3, 1990

 29 Phyllis Hyman

Phyllis Hyman
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: July 6, 1949
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: June 30, 1995

 30 Dinah Washington

Dinah Washington
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: August 29, 1924
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States
Died: December 14, 1963

 31 Kate Smith

Kate Smith
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: May 1, 1907
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Greenville, Virginia, USA
Died: June 17, 1986

 32 Deana Martin

Deana Martin
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: August 19, 1948
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA

 33 Rickie Lee Jones

Rickie Lee Jones
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: November 8, 1954
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA

 34 Jack Jones

Jack Jones
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: January 14, 1938
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

 35 Al Martino

Al Martino
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: October 7, 1927
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Died: October 13, 2009

 36 Leon Redbone

Leon Redbone
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Famous As: Former singer-songwriter and musician best recognized for his songs "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" and "Ain't Misbehaving".
Birthdate: August 26, 1949
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Cyprus
Died: May 30, 2019

 37 Frankie Laine

Frankie Laine
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 30, 1913
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died: February 6, 2007

 38 Al Di Meola

Al Di Meola
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Famous As: Guitarist
Birthdate: July 22, 1954
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Jersey City, New Jersey, United States

 39 Olu Dara

Olu Dara
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Famous As: cornetist
Birthdate: January 12, 1941
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Natchez, Mississippi, USA

 40 Roy Ayers

Roy Ayers
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: September 10, 1940
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, U.S.
One of the greatest vibraphone players of all time, Roy Ayers was a pioneer of jazz-funk and acid jazz. Born to a trombone player father and a pianist mother, he was destined to be a musician. He soared to fame with tracks such as Everybody Loves the Sunshine.

 41 Marc Nelson

Marc Nelson
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: January 23, 1971
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

 42 Meshell Ndegeocello

Meshell Ndegeocello
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: August 29, 1968
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany

 43 Valarie Pettiford

Valarie Pettiford
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 8, 1960
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Queens, New York, USA

 44 Celeste

Celeste
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: May 5, 1994
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Celeste is an American-British singer-songwriter who became the fifth artist to win the Rising Star Award and top the BBC's Sound of poll in the same year in 2019. Considered one of the finest singers of her generation, Celeste is also admired for her fashion sense. In 2020, she was featured in one of the Top 10 lists by Elle.

 45 Bob Crosby

Bob Crosby
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: August 23, 1913
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Spokane, Washington, United States
Died: March 9, 1993

 46 James Shigeta

James Shigeta
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Famous As: Actor and singer
Birthdate: June 17, 1929
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Died: July 28, 2014

 47 Phoebe Snow

Phoebe Snow
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: July 17, 1950
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York City, U.S.
Died: April 26, 2011

 48 Renee Olstead

Renee Olstead
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: June 18, 1989
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Houston, Texas U.S.

 49 Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 12, 1928
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Portsmouth, Virginia, United States
Died: November 17, 2006

 50 Hazel Scott

Hazel Scott
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Famous As: Jazz Pianist
Birthdate: June 11, 1920
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Port au Spain, Trinidad
Died: October 2, 1981