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.
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.
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.
A pioneer of South African jazz, instrumentalist Hugh Masekela excelled in the trumpet and introduced South African music to countries such as the U.S. He was also a vocal anti-apartheid activist, played for the Jazz Epistles, and was known for his iconic albums such as Hope and Johannesburg.
Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour is known for popularizing the musical genre mbalax. The Grammy Award- and Praemium Imperiale-winning singer has also served as Senegal’s culture and tourism minister. Initially part of the Star Band, he later formed Étoile de Dakar. He has also starred in the British-American movie Amazing Grace.
Known as the African Mahler for his bi-racial ethnicity, British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor ruled the music scene of the early 20th century. Throughout his illustrious career, he taught music, judged contests, and created many choral and orchestral works. He was best known for the Longfellow trilogy, based on The Song of Hiawatha.
Seu Jorge is a Brazilian actor, songwriter, and musical artist. He is credited with renewing Brazilian pop samba and his musical work has attracted praises from several internationally-recognized musicians including David Bowie and Beck David Hansen. Seu Jorge is also known for his acting performance in films like The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and City of God.
Solomon Linda is best remembered for writing the hit Mbube, later known as Wimoweh and The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Part of the Evening Birds, he never got his due and died poor. His family couldn’t afford to build a headstone for his grave until 18 years after his death.