Famous Black Pianists

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 Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin.
6
Famous As: Singer & Activist
Birthdate: March 25, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Died: August 16, 2018

Widely regarded as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin was a singer-songwriter, actress, and civil rights activist. Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Aretha was ranked number one on Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Singers of All Time list in 2010. Having sold over 75 million records, she is also one of the best-selling musicians ever.

 2 Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys.
6
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: January 25, 1981
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hell's Kitchen, New York, United States

Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys has been active in the music industry since the mid-1990s. Her debut album was a super hit and earned her five Grammy Awards. She is one of the best-selling artists in the United States and has sold over 40 million albums worldwide. She is also known for her humanitarian work, philanthropy, and activism.

 3 Ray Charles

Ray Charles.
4
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.

 4 Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton.
4
Famous As: American R&B Singer-songwriter & Musician
Birthdate: October 7, 1967
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Severn
Soul and R&B sensation Toni Braxton initially performed with her sisters in The Braxtons. She won three of her seven Grammys with her debut album. Known for her Billboard-charters such as Un-break My Heart, she also collaborated with Babyface, competed in Dancing with the Stars, and produced Braxton Family Values.

 5 Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole.
6
Famous As: Vocalist, Pianist
Birthdate: March 17, 1919
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Montgomery, Alabama, United States
Died: February 15, 1965
Jazz pianist/singer Nat King Cole, father of singer Natalie Cole, is best remembered for tracks such as Too Young and Mona Lisa. His last album, L-O-V-E, was recorded while he battled lung cancer. With The Nat King Cole Show, he became the first African-American to host his own show.

 6 Duke Ellington

Duke Ellington.
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Famous As: Composer, Pianist and Bandleader
Birthdate: April 29, 1899
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.
Died: May 24, 1974
Jazz legend Duke Ellington managed his orchestra till his death, and over a 6-decade-long career. He is known for his collaborations with legends such as pianist and composer Billy Strayhorn. He termed his music “American music” and refused to attach any category to it. He received a posthumous Pulitzer Prize.

 7 Don Shirley

Don Shirley
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: January 29, 1927
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pensacola, Florida, USA
Died: April 6, 2013
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 8 Fats Domino

Fats Domino.
4
Famous As: Pianist, Rock & Roll Musician
Birthdate: February 26, 1928
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died: October 24, 2017

 9 Teddy Pendergrass

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

 10 Thelonious Monk

Thelonious Monk.
4
Famous As: Jazz Pianist & Composer
Birthdate: October 10, 1917
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Rocky Mount, North Carolina, United States
Died: February 17, 1982

Thelonious Monk was an American jazz pianist and composer who was noted for his unorthodox approach and idiosyncrasy during his performance. Mentored by Mary Lou Williams, Thelonious Monk contributed to bebop and was associated with Columbia and Riverside labels. His run-in with the police affected his performance after his New York City Cabaret Card was confiscated following the discovery of narcotics in a car.

 11 Marques Houston

Marques Houston
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: August 4, 1981
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA

 12 Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco
4
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: February 16, 1982
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

 13 Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-Heron
3
Famous As: Singer, Writer, Composer, Poet, Pianist
Birthdate: April 1, 1949
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: May 27, 2011

 14 Eric Benét

Eric Benét
3
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: October 15, 1966
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

 15 Nina Simone

Nina Simone.
0
Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Composer
Birthdate: February 21, 1933
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tryon
Died: April 21, 2003

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.

 16 Danger Mouse

Danger Mouse.
3
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: July 29, 1977
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: White Plains, New York, United States

 17 Victor Willis

Victor Willis
3
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: July 1, 1951
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, USA

 18 Dinah Washington

Dinah Washington
3
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: August 29, 1924
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States
Died: December 14, 1963

 19 Dennis Edwards

Dennis Edwards
3
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: February 3, 1943
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Fairfield, Alabama, United States
Died: February 1, 2018

 20 Jody Watley

Jody Watley
3
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: January 30, 1959
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

 21 Jelly Roll Morton

Jelly Roll Morton
3
Famous As: Pianist, Bandleader, Composer, Conductor, Jazz musician
Birthdate: October 20, 1890
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Gulfport
Died: July 10, 1941

 22 Max Roach

Max Roach
2
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: January 10, 1924
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Pasquotank County, North Carolina, U.S.
Died: August 16, 2007

 23 Robert Glasper

Robert Glasper
3
Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: April 5, 1978
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States

 24 McCoy Tyner

McCoy Tyner
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Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: December 11, 1938
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: March 6, 2020

 25 W. C. Handy

W. C. Handy
2
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: November 16, 1873
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Florence, Alabama, United States
Died: March 28, 1958

 26 Horace Silver

Horace Silver
2
Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: September 2, 1928
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Norwalk, Connecticut, U.S.
Died: June 18, 2014

 27 Ruth Brown

Ruth Brown
2
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 12, 1928
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Portsmouth, Virginia, U.S.
Died: November 17, 2006

 28 Norman Whitfield

Norman Whitfield
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Famous As: Songwriter
Birthdate: May 12, 1940
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Died: September 16, 2008

 29 Ramsey Lewis

Ramsey Lewis
2
Famous As: Radio personality, Jazz musician, Pianist
Birthdate: May 27, 1935
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chicago

 30 Mary Lou Williams

Mary Lou Williams
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Famous As: American jazz pianist
Birthdate: May 8, 1910
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Died: May 28, 1981

 31 Abdullah Ibrahim

Abdullah Ibrahim.
2
Famous As: Pianist, Composer
Birthdate: October 9, 1934
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cape Town

South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, known as Dollar Brand, is best remembered for his socially relevant music, such as the jazz piece Mannenberg, which became an anthem for anti-apartheid activists. As part of The Jazz Epistles, he was one of the first black South Africans to record a jazz LP.

 32 Ellis Marsalis Jr.

Ellis Marsalis Jr.
2
Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: November 14, 1934
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died: April 1, 2020

 33 Otis Blackwell

Otis Blackwell
2
Famous As: Songwriter
Birthdate: February 16, 1931
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: March 6, 2002

 34 Florence Price

Florence Price
2
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: 1887 AD
Birthplace: Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
Died: 1953 AD

 35 Tommy Lee Flanagan

Tommy Lee Flanagan
2
Famous As: Jazz Pianist
Birthdate: March 16, 1930
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Conant Gardens, Detroit, Michigan, United States
Died: November 16, 2001

 36 Bobby Short

Bobby Short
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: September 15, 1924
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Danville, Illinois, United States
Died: March 21, 2005

 37 Pinetop Perkins

Pinetop Perkins
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Famous As: Jazz Pianist
Birthdate: July 7, 1913
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Belzoni, Mississippi, United States
Died: March 21, 2011

 38 Barry Harris

Barry Harris
2
Famous As: Pianist
Birthdate: December 15, 1929
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States

 39 Teddy Wilson

Teddy Wilson
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Famous As: Jazz Pianist
Birthdate: November 24, 1912
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Austin, Texas, United States
Died: July 31, 1986

 40 Hank Jones

Hank Jones
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: July 31, 1918
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Vicksburg, Mississippi
Died: May 16, 2010

 41 Anthony Braxton

Anthony Braxton
2
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: June 4, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

 42 Billy Taylor

Billy Taylor
1
Famous As: Jazz Pianist
Birthdate: July 24, 1921
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Greenville, North Carolina, United States
Died: December 28, 2010

 43 Johnnie Johnson

Johnnie Johnson
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Famous As: American musician
Birthdate: July 8, 1924
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Fairmont, West Virginia, United States
Died: April 13, 2005

 44 Cedar Walton

Cedar Walton
1
Famous As: Jazz Pianist
Birthdate: January 17, 1934
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, United States
Died: August 19, 2013

 45 Blind Tom Wiggins

Blind Tom Wiggins
1
Famous As: Music Performer
Birthdate: May 25, 1849
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Harris County, Georgia, United States
Died: June 14, 1908

 46 Shirley Horn

Shirley Horn
2
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: May 1, 1934
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
Died: October 20, 2005

 47 Kenny Drew

Kenny Drew
1
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: August 28, 1928
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: August 4, 1993

 48 Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou

Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou
1
Famous As: Nun
Birthdate: December 12, 1923
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ethiopia

 49 Jesse Albert Stone

Jesse Albert Stone
1
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: November 16, 1901
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Atchison, Kansas, United States
Died: April 1, 1999

 50 Randy Weston

Randy Weston
1
Famous As: Jazz Pianist
Birthdate: April 6, 1926
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City, New York
Died: September 1, 2018