United States is well-known for its contributions in the field of music. American music expresses the country’s cultural diversity with numerous musical styles or genres, ranging from classical, folk, hip-hop, pop to rock. Let’s take a quick look at some musicians from the United States.
Music is an important and popular part of American culture. USA, Japan and the UK are the three main music markets with the US being the world’s largest music industry, catering to a global audience. Rock and roll, country, techno, jazz and pop are the most widely known types of music in the US.
Different musical genres
The most prominent musical genres are classified as follows:
- Contemporary Christian Music
- Hip Hop/Rap
- Latin Pop
- Punk Rock
Music touches the core of our heart, and is an expression of our heart’s saying. It has the ability to change our mood or feelings, so listening to the right kind of songs is very important.
To understand and know more about the various genres of music, let’s take a look at the following noteworthy contributions made by these famous American musicians.
This music genre originated in the beginning of the 20th century and is traditionally sung by African-Americans. The vocals are accompanied by a guitar and a harmonica. Certain groups also use drums and saxophones for a deeper effect. This type of music has evolved over time with several sub-genres such as Electric blues, Chicago blues, Swamp blues, etc.
W. C. Handy
Life is something like a trumpet. If you don’t put anything in, you won’t get anything out.
The son and grandson of ministers, William Christopher Handy is often referred to as the Father of the Blues. He was a composer, songwriter, musician, bandleader, and an author. He was also oftentimes credited for helping in popularizing Blues music, in the early 20th century. St. Louis Blues, Yellow Dog Blues, Beale Street Blues, and Aunt Hagar’s Blueswere some of his notable compositions that made him a legendary blues composer. In the year 2006, ‘The Blues Music Award’, was named after him.
B. B. King
The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.
Riley King, widely known as B.B. King, is the King of Blues and a well-known guitarist. Some of his most cherished and popular classics include the Three O’Clock Blues, Paying The Cost To Be The Boss, How Blue Can You Get, Why I Sing The Blues, Every Day I Have The Blues, The Thrill Is Gone, You Don’t Know Me, Please Love Me, You Upset Me Baby, and Don’t Answer The Door, etc. The Thrill is Gonereceived several awards and also bagged a Grammy Hall of Fame award.
George “Buddy” Guy
I’ve never missed a gig yet. Music makes people happy, and that’s why I go on doing it – I like to see everybody smile.
Buddy Guy is renowned for taking blues to the next level by employing traditional, deep blues to a creative, unpredictable energetic level. His guitar skills contributed greatly to rock and roll music, and he is known for playing loud and aggressive music. He is a pioneer of Chicago Blues, and has also received several awards for his extraordinary contributions. He won 23 W.C. Handy Awards, more than any other artist, and has also attained the title of being the Greatest Living Electric Blues Guitarist.
This music genre also evolved rapidly in the 1920s. The instruments used range from the acoustic guitar, fiddle, steel guitar, banjo, accordion, upright bass to the electric guitar. Certain traditional country bands also use a Mandolin or harmonica for a deeper effect. Sub-genres of country music include Western swing, Jug band, Lubbock sound, etc.
Success is having to worry about every damn thing in the world, except money.
He was a musical superstar known for his innovative compilation of mixed country, rock, blues, and gospel genres. He wrote songs mostly about love, life, god, and murder. I Walk the Line, Solitary Man, Give My Love To Rose, The Legend, Don’t Take Your Guns to Town, Ring of Fire and A Boy Named Sue were some of his greatest hits that topped the charts worldwide. He received many awards for his outstanding contributions and is also inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Life’s not the breath you take, but the moments that take your breath away.
He is one of the most admired and successful country music artists (who began his musical career in the year 1981), who has recorded approximately 60 number-one hit singles till date. All my Ex’s Live in Texas, Write this Down, Ocean Front Property, You Look So Good in Love, Heartland, Blue Clear Sky and Fool Hearted Memory were songs that won the hearts of millions of fans around the world. As a singer, record producer and actor, he is the only artist to have top ten subsequent hits for 30 years.
You aren’t wealthy until you have something money can’t buy.
A country singer known for his professional music career and his trademark cowboy hats, he is also one of the second best-selling solo artist ever. The Dance, Friends in Low Places, No Fences, The Thunder Rolls, The Beaches of Cheyenne, If Tomorrow Never Comes, Unanswered Prayers, Ropin’ the Wind, Two of a Kind and Workin’ on a Full House, etc., were all commercially successful hits worldwide. He won 24 Billboard Music Awards, 18 Academy of Country Music Awards, 10 People’s Choice Awards, 17 American Music Awards, and 2 Grammy Awards.
Contemporary christian music has become a prominent music genre amidst young believers. This genre highlights Christianity and is a unique and modern way of enjoying music with gospel themes and lyrics. It’s a great option for music enthusiasts, who do not prefer secular music. The vocals are usually accompanied by a guitar, piano, synthesizer, drum, and bass. Their sub-genres are Christian rock, Christian hip hop, and worship music.
Though my heart is torn, I will praise you in this storm.
This is a very famous Christian rock band based in Atlanta that focuses on delivering satisfying and thought-provoking Jesus music. The band comprises 7 members, and together they have penned many hits, namely Who Am I, East to West, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day and albums like Until the Whole World Hears, Lifesong, The Altarand The Door, all of which secured Gold status. The group were nominated for four Grammy Awards (they won one), 15 GMA Dove Awards, 2 Billboard Music Awards and an American Music Award.
Michael W. Smith
God deserves the best from us.
Michael Whitaker Smith is a well-known artist in the Christian music industry, who has won 3 Grammy awards and 40 Dove awards. He is not only a singer, but also an author and a record label executive. He also holds 5 Platinum albums, 31 number one radio hits, and has also been named one of People Magazine’s Most Beautiful People. His famous compositions are Above All, You Are Holy, Breathe, Friendsand Place in This World.
Music connects with the soul. I think it’s the quickest art form to the soul.
Christopher Dwayne Tomlin is a renowned music artist, a worship leader, and one of the best Christian songwriters of present times. He started writing songs at the age of fourteen; some of his greatest hits were How Great Is Our God, Forever, Jesus Messiah, Holy is the Lord, and Amazing Grace. He has won many awards, and is also recognized worldwide. His songs are easy to sing and his music brings us into God’s presence, and renews and heals us on an emotional and spiritual level.
This music genre originated in the 70s, in New York City. It’s regarded with great favor among the young people, for its music comprises rapping, DJing, beat boxing, vocal percussion and sampling. The song lyrics generally talk about an artist’s tough childhood and how he/she managed to carve out a successful and fruitful life. Millions of people around the globe have been influenced by it, and this genre is still immensely popular.
Only God can judge me.
Tupac Shakur, also called 2Pac, was acknowledged in the Guinness Book of World Records as an established top-selling rapper, dancer, and film actor. His songs were quite a sensation selling more than a million copies worldwide. Some of his best compilations were Dear Mama, I Get Around, Against the World, The Humpty Dance, Brenda’s Got a Baby, Keep Ya Head Up, All Eyez on Me, Changes and How Long will They Mourn me. He was a legendary rapper best-known for his talent, his violent behavior, and his brutal death.
The truth is you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed.
Marshall Bruce Mathers III, better known as Eminem, was a school dropout, who started rapping at the age of 14. He is one of the biggest selling artists of the decade and ninth on the Forbes list of top ten highest earning rappers. Recovery, the Slim Shady, Hell: The Sequel, My Name Is, The Eminem Show, Guilty Conscience, The Marshall Mathers LP, and Lose Yourself established him as the most successful rapper and as a music icon. He won 13 Grammy awards, 1 Oscar, 8 American Music Awards, and 12 Billboard Music Awards.
I’d rather die enormous than live dormant.
Jay-Z (a.k.a, Shawn Corey Carter) — a rapper, entrepreneur and music producer — is one of the most commercially successful artists and one of the greatest rappers of all time. His greatest hits were from the albums Jay-Z, The Blueprint 3, Vol. 2. Hard Knock Life, Crazy in Love, 99 Problems, Upgrade U, Numb/Encore, Run This Town, Umbrella, Empire State of Mindand The Throne. His daughter was named Blue Ivy Carter, after his commercially successful album ‘The Blueprint’.
Jazz music originated from New Orleans in the 1920s, and is traditionally played by African-Americans. This music genre appeals to the soul and continues to steal the hearts of many people. The vocals are accompanied by the saxophone, trumpet, trombone, bass guitar, clarinet, flute, piano, tuba, drums, vibraphone, and the banjo. This music genre has evolved over time and has many sub-genres such as Third Stream, Trad Jazz, Urban Jazz, Vocal Jazz and West Coast Gypsy Jazz.
The best revenge is massive success.
The voice that thrilled millions, Francis Albert “Frank” Sinatra was truly phenomenal, in the golden era of 1940s. He had a booming singing and acting career and was also voted as the nation’s most popular male singer. Come Dance with Me, September of My Years, It Was a Very Good Year, A Man and Strangers in the Night, etc., were all considered his greatest compilations. He won 14 Grammy awards, a Lifetime Achievement award, and also won the title of being the Greatest Voice of the Twentieth Century.
Musicians don’t retire; they stop when there’s no more music in them.
Louis Armstrong, often nicknamed as Satchmo, was the most influential jazz musician in history and one of the most successful vocalists of the 20th century. His unique style and highly imaginative, and innovative approach impressed not only the jazz world but all the other genres in music. He loved playing music and making people happy. Hello Dolly, What a Wonderful World, Blueberry Hill, When The Saints Go Marching In, Dream a Little Dream of Me, Ain’t Misbehavin’, We Have All the Time in the World, Hot Five and Hot Seven were the records that made him a sensation and extremely popular worldwide.
It isn’t where you came from, it’s where you’re going that counts.
She was often referred to and nicknamed as The First Lady of Jazz, Queen of Jazz, First Lady of Song and Lady Ella. She was one of the most famous female jazz singers, who worked with legendary jazz artists like Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole and many others for more than half a century. Her singing was out of this world — flexible, varied, precise and ageless. A-Tisket, A-Tasket, Ella in Berlin, Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers & Hart Songbook, Porgy and Bess, How High the Moon were all recognized worldwide and loved by all. She had also received several awards and honors.
Technological innovations, starting from the television to portable transistor radios, multitrack recording devices, and creative, trend-setting videos, were the reasons responsible for the increasing popularity of pop music. This genre of music gained popular appeal globally because of its catchy tunes, fascinating dance moves, and rhyming lyrics. It’s often tailored for the young crowd, and hence has always topped the music charts.
The Lord can give, and the Lord can take away. I might be herding sheep next year.
Born on January 8, 1935, Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most famous American singers and a popular musician. He was mostly recognized by his first name and was also known as ‘The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ or simply as ‘The King’. Elvis was one of the initial performers of Rockabilly. He got his breakthrough when his songs My Happiness, Heartbreak Hotel, I was the One, That’s All Right and That’s When Your Heartaches Beginbecame very popular among teens. He was considered as a ‘Cultural Icon’.
I’m never pleased with anything, I’m a perfectionist, it’s part of who I am.
Michael Jackson’s career broke wide open in the year 1964, when he joined the Jackson Brothers which was a musical band formed by his brothers Jermaine, Tito, and Jackie. In 1982, he produced the song Someone in the Dark for the movie ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’. This song won a Grammy for Best Album for Children. The same year, he released the album Thriller. In 1983, he performed live on the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever television program. In 1987, Jackson released the album Bad which consisted of seven hit singles. In 1991, he came out with the album Dangerous, of which the single Black or White was the album’s biggest hit. It was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks.
A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want.
Pop sensation Madonna is not just a singer-songwriter and dancer, but a director, author, producer, actress, and a fashion designer as well. She received many awards and honors. Her song Ray of Light received 4 Grammy Awards, while Beautiful Stranger, and Confessions on a Dance Floor also won her a Grammy Award. She also produced four songs for the movie Who’s That Girl. The song Like a Prayer was tagged as the Best International Album ever. Her 1990s’ song I’m Breathless won the Best Album of the Year award. True Blue, Vogue and Express Yourself, acclaimed her as one of the best international pop artists ever.
This music genre became popular during the 1980s and 1990s, and is commonly associated with the Latino people. It is mostly sung in Spanish, Italian, French, and now even in English. The vocals are accompanied by a synthesizer, guitar, keyboard, trumpet, trombone, piano, and drums. This genre gained immense popularity globally, for its danceable rhythms and catchy songs.
I affirmably believe in the saying the impossible is always possible and you don’t need anybody else to tell you that you’re good.
Known as the Queen of Tejano Music, Selena had one of the most successful singing careers, with her biggest hits being Dreaming of You, Amor Prohibido, Ven Conmigo, Buenos Amigos, Donde Quiera Que Estés, Bidi Bidi Bom Bom, and No Me Queda Mas. She was also one of the first Tejano artists to ever win a Grammy Award. Her tragic death in the year 1995 left the whole nation devastated. Her family built a museum as a memorial for their beloved daughter, showcasing her red Porsche, various awards, dresses and other collectibles.
You can’t take life for granted.
Jennifer Lynn Lopez, who is also known as J.Lo, is one of the most talented and accomplished American musicians ever. She is not only a singer but also a versatile songwriter, dancer, television personality, fashion designer, actress, and a record producer. She is one of the richest Latin American descents in America. Her debut album ‘On the 6’ (Waiting for Tonight and If You Had My Love) which released on June 1, 1999, became an instant hit and was ranked eighth on its debut (among the top ten) on the Billboard 200 Chart. Her second album J. Lo (Love Don’t Cost a Thing) released on 23 January 2001, and was rated as number one on Billboard 200. Today, she is a star and a powerful celebrity who was recently honored with star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, for her outstanding contributions in the field of music and acting.
I’m an ocean, because I’m really deep. If you search deep enough you can find rare exotic treasures.
She is a five-time Grammy award winner, and recognized as the most talented bilingual singer, dancer, and actor worldwide. She is known for her powerful voice and her ability to sing without any instruments. Genie in a Bottle, Nobody Wants to be Lonely, Lady Marmalade, Stripped, What a Girl Wants, Mi Reflejo, Come on Over Baby (All I Want is You) and Beautiful were some of her super hits, that made her one of the best-selling artists ever. She is also one of Google’s most popular search query.
A lot of people think that punk rock musicians don’t know what they’re doing, but in reality the lyrics in this music genre are serious-minded, and direct, and point out everything that is wrong with the society, system, and other social customs. These individuals express their attitude through their music, hairstyle, and clothing. Punk music is all about saying, doing, and playing what you want. Hence, these musicians are much favored by teens around the world.
The Ramones own the fountain of youth. Experiencing us is like having the fountain of youth.
This band was active from the year 1974 to 1996, and was the first punk rock band ever. They are still an inspiration to all new generation punk bands. Their style showed hardcore punk, loud, straightforward musical style, with lyrics that stole millions of hearts worldwide. Their contributions to this music genre is indescribable and will never be forgotten.
Just throw it all and live like there’s no tomorrow.
The Offspring was formed in the year 1984; their songs mainly talked about police, death, religion and war. Gotta Get Away, Ignition, Self-Esteem, Come Out and Play, Smash, Can’t Repeat, Conspiracy of One, Pretty Fly (for a White Guy), Why Don’t You Get a Job, The Kids Aren’t Alright and Bad Habit were all top selling punk albums worldwide. The album Smash sold over 16 million copies, and got them a gold and platinum status.
We are not afraid of doing the things we do.
Bad Brains was one of the most important and influential punk bands known to mix reggae and punk, creating revolutionary style that most artists only aspire to achieve. This American band managed to maintain a pure and quintessential attitude, turning every wish into reality. Pay to Cum, I Against I, 7″ single, and Build A Nation were all incredible masterpieces. The band is currently lined up with Earl Hudson on the drums, Dr. Know on Guitar, H.R. with vocals and Darryl Jenifer on Bass.
Rhythm and Blues originated in the 1940s. This genre of music is a fusion of jazz, blues and gospel music. The vocals are accompanied by instruments such as drums, piano, bass, and woodwinds. R&B songs have the ability to make you step on the dance floor and get you into the mood of love instantly. It’s the most popular form of music played and enjoyed by all worldwide.
You know, you do need mentors, but in the end, you really just need to believe in yourself.
As a classic singer and actress, she is one of the most successful female R&Bsingers ever. She started off with The Supremes, who became the most commercially successful band ever. Baby Love, Where Did Our Love Go, Come See About Me, Stop! In the Name of Love and Back in My Arms Again were some of their greatest hits together. She left the band in the year 1969 to pursue her solo singing career. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Upside Down, I’m Coming Out, Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand) were few of her greatest hits. She was also honored as the ‘Entertainer of the Century’ by the Billboard Magazine.
Simplicity makes me happy.
She is a pianist, singer, record producer, actress and one of the most talented artists in the R&B music industry. Alicia Augello Cook, nicknamed ‘Lellow’, turned down a Colombian University application, to pursue her music career. Her album ‘Songs in a Minor’ sold 12 million copies worldwide and also earned her 5 Grammys. She made the world fall in love with her music. Her other notable contributions and super hits were songs from the album As I Am, Un-thinkable (I’m Ready), The Diary of Alicia Keys and The Element of Freedom. She won 12 Grammy awards, 5 American Music Awards, 6 ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards, and 10 Billboard Music Awards.
I get nervous when I don’t get nervous. If I’m nervous I know I’m going to have a good show.
As an actor, singer, record producer and fashion designer, Beyonce first captured the public eye as a lead singer of the famous R&B group, Destiny’s Child. The group was active from the year 1997 till 2006 — some of their greatest hits were Bills, Bills, Bills, Say My Name, Independent Women, Survivor and Bootylicious. Beyonce, by then, had also established a solo career, impressing the audience with her natural singing and dancing abilities. Some of her solo hits were Baby Boy, Crazy in Love, Naughty Girl, If I were a Boy, Single Ladies, Irreplaceable, Dangerously in Love, Haloand Sweet Dreams which identified her as an international pop star.
Enlisting all the famous American musicians is a herculean task, as you can see that there are so many genres. Below are the names of some more creative, talented American Musicians, who are also well-known, globally. It is not possible to mention all of them as it is a never-ending list, but yes, we salute and thank all these American musicians for their outstanding contributions made to the music industry.
- Bob Dylan – Rock, folk, folk rock, blues, blues rock, country, rock and roll, gospel, country rock
- Duke Ellington – Orchestral jazz, swing, big band
- Stevie Wonder – Soul, pop, R&B, funk, jazz
- The Beach Boys – Rock, pop, surf rock
- Metallica – Heavy metal, hard rock, thrash and speed metal
- Aerosmith – Hard rock, blues rock, heavy metal, glam metal
- Cher – Pop, rock, folk, dance, disco, pop rock
- Guns N’ Roses – Hard rock, heavy metal, blues rock
- Tina Turner – Rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, blues, blues-rock, soul, funk, gospel, pop, rock, pop rock, soft rock
- Lady Gaga – Pop, dance, electronic, rock
- Missy Elliott – Hip hop
- Billy Joel – Rock, pop, soft rock, classical
- Justin Timberlake – Pop, dance, R&B
- Britney Spears – Pop, dance
- Derrick May – Techno, electronic
- Miley Cyrus – Pop, country, dance, rock
- Taylor Swift – Pop, pop rock, country, country pop
- Lil Wayne – Hip hop
- Joey Beltram – Techno, electronic
- Katy Perry – Pop, rock, disco, gospel
- Linkin Park – Alternative rock, rap rock, alternative metal
- MC Hammer – Hip hop
- Kevin Skinner – Country, country rock, pop, rock
- Janet Jackson – R&B, pop, dance
- Chris Brown – R&B, pop, hip hop, dance
- Kanye West – Hip hop
- Jeff Mills – Techno, electronic
- Gwen Stefani – Pop, dance, rock, electronic, R&B
- Carrie Underwood – Country, country pop
- Usher – R&B, soul, pop, dance
- Ke$ha – Dance-pop, electropop
- Fergie – Pop, R&B, hip hop
- Mariah Carey – R&B, pop, hip hop, soul, dance
These are some of the music moguls who became billionaires and have or had a promising future in the music industry. These artists have made it big, not only in the US, but also across the globe, and have won a legendary status in the hearts of people.