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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jackie Mittoo was a Jamaican-Canadian songwriter, keyboardist, and musical director. He is best remembered for his association with the Studio One record label where he worked as a musical director. Jackie Mittoo is also remembered as one of the most important members of the popular ska band, The Skatalites.