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Article

Frances R. Aparicio

[Muñiz, Marco Antonio]

(b New York City, Sept 16, 1968). American singer, songwriter, and actor of Puerto Rican ancestry. Named after the famous Mexican singer Marco Antonio Muñiz (b 1933), Marc Anthony has become one of the most famous and important Latino singer-songwriters in the United States. Because of the excellence of his voice and his commitment to his Latino and Caribbean roots, he has become the biggest selling salsa artist of all time, with over 10 million albums sold worldwide. After singing house and freestyle music in English in his early career, Marc Anthony revitalized salsa music with a series of early 1990s musical hits that paved the way for the 1999 Latin pop explosion. He has successfully crossed linguistic borders, singing both in English and Spanish within the same album and thus contesting the label of “crossover.” His stage performances and the hybrid musical arrangements that have cast traditional Puerto Rican songs like “Preciosa” and “Lamento borincano” as salsa songs embody his Nuyorican identity in the public space, thus exemplifying the transnational nature of salsa music. Some of his best-known songs in English include “I Need to Know” and “You Sang to Me.”...

Article

Jonas Westover

[Charles Eugene ]

(b June 1, 1934, Jacksonville, FL). American singer, actor, and author. He is best known for his success during the 1950s and 60s, when he delivered old-fashioned sounds with a wholesome image and was seen a safe antidote to the African American artists who were performing R&B and rock ’n’ roll. His success was due in part to his choice to cover many of their songs in his own fashion. These were targeted specifically to middle-class white teenagers and resulted in 38 top 40 hits. Boone began recording in 1954 for Republic Records, where he covered music by Fats Domino, Little Richard, Nat “King” Cole, and the El Dorados. Second only to Elvis Presley in terms of album sales during the 1950s, he branched out as an actor, appearing on television in “Arthur Godfrey and his Friends” and “Ozark Jubilee.” From 1957 he hosted his own program, “The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom,” in which he served as a spokesman for the car company and pitched his music. Among his most popular hits are “Ain’t that a Shame” (...

Article

Philip Gentry

(b Maysville, KY, May 23, 1928; d Beverly Hills, CA, June 29, 2002). American singer and actor. Raised in difficult circumstances in northern Kentucky, she won a talent competition with her sister Betty sponsored by a Cincinnati radio station, and in 1945 the pair joined the Tony Pastor Orchestra as the Clooney Sisters. Soon thereafter she struck out on her own: she signed with Columbia Records and established a musical partnership with the producer Mitch Miller.

After two modestly successful singles, in 1951 Clooney and Miller recorded the obscure pseudo-Armenian song “Come on-a my House,” with a jarring harpsichord accompaniment. The single was a spectacular success, and for the remainder of the 1950s Clooney’s musical output veered between her preferred romantic material, including her successful versions of “Half as Much” (1952) and “Hey there” (1954), and a series of witty novelty numbers that tended towards an interchangeably ethnic mode of performance, including “Botch-a-me (Ba-Ba-Baciami Piccina)” (...

Article

Athena Elafros

(John) [Diddy; P. Diddy; Puff Daddy; Puffy; Sean John]

(b New York, NY, Nov 4, 1969). American record producer, rapper, record executive, artist manager, and actor. His sample-heavy approach to production and R&B-infused sound contributed to the mainstreaming and resurgence of East Coast hip hop in the mid-1990s. As an entrepreneur and business executive, Combs parlayed his career in music into the multi-million dollar Bad boy entertainment empire, consisting of Bad Boy Records, the clothing lines Sean Jean and Sean by Sean Combs, a movie production company, and several restaurants. Often criticized for commercializing and watering down hip hop, Combs’s career, and the controversy surrounding it, exemplify fundamental tensions related to hip hop’s massive cultural influence and complicated relationship to global capitalism. Significantly, his wholesale recycling of popular hooks such as the Police’s “Every Breath You Take,“ Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out” and David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance,” to name only a few, have resulted in his music being heavily criticized (and heavily sold) both within and outside of hip hop circles....

Article

Common  

Jared Pauley

[Lynn, Rashid Lonnie ]

(b Chicago, IL, March 13, 1972). American rapper and actor. He attended Florida A&M University as a business major but dropped out after two years. He originally went by the name Common Sense, but he was sued by a California reggae band that had already copyrighted the name. He first gained attention after being featured in the “Unsigned Hype” column of The Source in October 1991. Shortly thereafter, he signed with Relativity Records as Common Sense and released his debut album Can I borrow a dollar? (Relativity, 1992), which features him rapping in a double-time style popular in the early 1990s. His album Resurrection (Relativity, 1994) was produced almost entirely by Chicago producer NO I.D., who later mentored Kanye West. Resurrection included the song “I used to love H.E.R.,” whose lyrics feature an extended metaphor figuring his relationship with hip hop as a love affair gone sour. Several west coast artists, including Ice Cube, Mack 10, and WC, took offense to the song and criticized him on record. However, with memories of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G.’s public feud and unsolved murders weighing heavily upon them, the antagonism was put to rest at a summit led by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan....

Article

Gary W. Kennedy

revised by Philip Gentry

(b New Orleans, LA, Sept 11, 1967). American pianist, singer, leader, and actor. He began playing piano at the age of three, was sitting in at local jazz clubs when he was six, and made his first recordings three years later; he had piano lessons with James Booker until 1980 and studied with Ellis Marsalis at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. After a brief period at Loyola University he moved to New York and attended the Manhattan School of Music; he later transferred to Hunter College to study history and economics. In 1987 he began working in New York, where he held a residency at the Oak Room in the Algonquin Hotel. He made his first international tour in 1988, and the following year he recorded the soundtrack to the film When Harry Met Sally, the success of which elevated him to the status of a pop star and led to his forming an orchestra. During the 1990s he toured with this group and began working as a film and television actor. Connick’s piano playing is based on the New Orleans style, which he learned from Booker, but also shows the influence of Thelonious Monk and Erroll Garner. Although a pop crooner and a big band traditionalist for most of his career, he briefly experimented with funk styles on his album ...

Article

J. Ryan Bodiford

(b New York, NY, July 30, 1971). American singer, composer, actor, and activist of Puerto Rican descent. Known to his fans as the King of Merengue, he has achieved international recognition for his self-styled brand of urban merengue fusion, which incorporates influences from Latin American genres like samba, salsa, and bomba, while also employing slick pop production techniques and hip-hop aesthetics. Romantic lyrical sentiments and attention to fashion further characterize his professional approach.

Crespo was raised primarily in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. His career began when he was 17 when he joined the Willie Berríos Orchestra in San Juan; however, his major breakthrough came in 1995 when he joined the established Puerto Rican merengue group, Manía. Helping to infuse Manía’s sound with more of a hip-hop edge, Crespo wrote two of the group’s biggest hits, “Linda eh” and “Ojitos bellos.” After three years gaining recognition with the group, he went solo in ...

Article

Will Fulton

[Jackson, O’Shea ]

(b Los Angeles, CA, June 15, 1969). American rapper and actor. Born and raised in Compton, California, a city southeast of downtown Los Angeles, Ice Cube began rapping in his teens with a group called C.I.A., which released one single produced by Dr. Dre, “My Posse” (independent, 1987). He joined N.W.A in 1987, serving not only as a rapper on the group’s first album N.W.A. and the Posse (Ruthless, 1987), but also as a lyricist. For example, he penned the lyrics for rapper Eazy-E’s seminal track “Boyz-N-The-Hood,” which helped to put West Coast gangsta rap on the map. Ice Cube also played a major role on N.W.A.’s second, highly influential album Straight Outta Compton (Ruthless, 1988). He served as one of the principal rappers, as well as lyricist for Eazy-E and Dr. Dre. He wrote a majority of “Fuck The Police,” an out-spoken song protesting police brutality and racial profiling by Los Angeles police officers. Cube’s storytelling style, which described gang culture and African American lifestyle in South Central Los Angeles, would define his subsequent career as a rapper and actor....

Article

Mos Def  

Jared Pauley

[Smith, Dante Terrell; Yasiin Bey]

(b Brooklyn, NY, Dec 11, 1973). American rapper and actor. He is known for his wide-ranging abilities as a lyricist and is also a competent multi-instrumentalist. He first came to prominence during the late 1990s as a member of Black Star, a duo with the rapper Talib Kweli. Many of his lyrics focus on political and socioeconomic subjects.

A convert to Islam, he initially formed a group with his younger brother and sister called Urban Thermo Dynamics. The group was signed to Payday Records, but they managed to release only two singles and their debut album Manifest Destiny was shelved until 2004. In 1996 he appeared in several songs on Da Bush Babees’ album Gravity (1996). He also made an appearance on De La Soul’s album Stakes is High (1996).

In 1998 Mos Def (shorthand for “most definitely”) teamed up with Kweli to form Black Star; the pair released their critically acclaimed debut ...

Article

Jared Pauley

[Broadus, Calvin Jr.; Snoop Doggy Dogg; Snoop Lion]

(b Long Beach, CA, Oct 20, 1971). American rapper and actor. One of the world’s most recognized hip-hop personalities, he began MCing in the sixth grade. Known for having a versatile flow capable of moving deftly between a laid-back drawl and rapid-fire delivery, he first came to fame performing with Dr. Dre on the 1992 hit single “Deep Cover.” Snoop Doggy Dogg became a household name in 1992 with the release of Dr. Dre’s West Coast classic The Chronic. In addition to appearing on a number of tracks, he, along with rapper The D.O.C., wrote many of the album’s lyrics.

In 1993, Death Row Records released his debut album Doggystyle. Like The Chronic, it was heavily rooted in synthesized funk, featuring heavy bass lines and live-sounding drums backing his loping, laid-back hip-hop drawl. The album has sold over four million copies to date and was, at the time of its release, the highest chart debut in ...

Article

Eminem  

Joseph R. Matson

[Mathers, Marshall Bruce III; Slim Shady]

(b St. Joseph, MO, Oct 17, 1972).

American rapper, record producer, and actor. As a youth, Eminem moved between multiple residences in and around Kansas City and Detroit; he has remained based in the Detroit area since the late 1980s. He was raised by his mother, Debbie (Deborah) Mathers; Ronnie (Ronald) Dean Polkinghorn, an uncle who was only a few months older than Eminem, first introduced him to hip-hop music. Eminem and Kim (Kimberly; Kimberley) Anne Scott, whom he later married and divorced twice, have one daughter, Hailie Jade Scott. During his third attempt to complete the ninth grade, Eminem dropped out of high school permanently to focus on his career as a rapper.

Proof [DeShaun] Holton (1972–2006), Eminem’s closest friend in high school, effectively functioned as his teacher, manager, and back-up band at various times in his early career. Together with four other Detroit rappers, they formed a collective unit called D12. In ...

Article

Holly George-Warren

[Smith, Lucille Wood; Smith (Fox), Frances Octavia]

(b Uvalde, TX, Oct 31, 1912; d Apple Valley, CA, Feb 7, 2001). American Western-music and popular singer-songwriter and actor. As Frances Fox, the name used in her first marriage, she began singing jazz, blues, and pop tunes on radio stations in Memphis in 1929. In May 1935 she took the stage name Dale Evans as staff vocalist at WHAS in Louisville, Kentucky. She moved to WFFA in Dallas, and by 1940 she was singing with the Anson Weeks Orchestra in Chicago, where she joined the CBS affiliate station WBBM. In 1941 Evans signed with 20th-Century Fox, playing bit parts in Hollywood musicals. She became a vocalist on several national radio shows, including “The Chase and Sanborn Hour” (1941), “The Jack Carson Show” (1944), and “The Camel Caravan” (1945). In 1943 she signed with Republic and, the following year, co-starred with roy Rogers, whom she married in ...

Article

Lorenzo Candelaria

(b Huentitán el Alto, Jalisco, Mexico, Feb 17, 1940). Mexican singer and actor. He is the leading interpreter of the canción ranchera (ranch song), a rurally inflected music popularized on Mexican film and radio since the 1930s. There are over 60 albums and 30 movies to his credit; most were produced in the 1970s and 1980s. His humble origins and subsequent promotion as an accessible “everyman” have helped earn a loyal following that continues to sell out live performances into the 2000s. Born to Ramón Fernández and Paula Gómez, ranchers in a small town northeast of Guadalajara, Vicente began singing and playing the guitar at age eight, assimilating the repertories and styles of the charros cantantes (singing cowboys) then popular on Mexican radio and film. He cites Pedro Infante as an important early influence. In 1954 Fernández won an amateur singing contest in Guadalajara and in 1960 received a payment of 35 pesos for performing on the local television show ...

Article

Alexandra M. Apolloni

(b Utica, NY, Oct 22, 1942; d Bakersfield, CA, April 8, 2013). American singer and actor. Raised in Los Angeles she began her career in show business at the age of 12, when she was recruited by Walt Disney to be one of the original Mouseketeers on the television show “The Mickey Mouse Club.” Her popularity led to a starring role in her own Mickey Mouse Club serial, “Annette.” On the basis of her fans’ overwhelming response to her on-air performance of the song “How will I Know my Love,” Funicello was offered a recording contract with Disney’s Buena Vista Records, and the song was released as a single. Under Buena Vista, Funicello released several successful singles including “Tall Paul” (Buena Vista, 1959), “O dio mio” (Buena Vista, 1960), and “Pineapple Princess” (Buena Vista, 1960). She also starred in number of Disney films, including The Shaggy Dog...

Article

(b Los Herreras, Nuevo León, México Dec 16, 1921; d Monterrey, Nuevo León, México, Sept 1, 2003). Mexican actor, singer, songwriter, and film director. Eulalio “Piporro” González Ramírez is best known for developing an idiosyncratic style of parodying Northern Mexican, or norteño, identity, lifestyle, and language through music and comedic acting for radio, stage, and film. His career spanned 60 years. He began as a newspaper reporter and radio personality in Monterrey and in US-Mexico border towns when he landed a role on the radio comedy, Ahí viene Martín Corona (Here Comes Martín Corona) produced in México City and starring the popular singer and actor Pedro Infante. At age 28, he played Infante’s elderly sidekick in 19th-century northern México where his bumbling character, “Piporro,” helped solve conflicts and dustups in local ranch life. The show’s success led to the 1951 film of the same name starring González and Infante. González enjoyed countless roles as “Piporro” in classic ...

Article

S. Timothy Maloney

(Gerard )

(b Lawrence, MA, Nov 26, 1933; d Los Angeles, Oct 30, 2007). American baritone and actor. After studying voice with Herbert Turner and Jean Létourneau in Edmonton, and george Lambert and Ernesto Vinci at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, he competed in talent showcases broadcast on CBC radio and television in the early 1950s, and began to win roles in theatrical, musical comedy, and operatic productions in Toronto, Stratford (ON), Ohio, and on CBC-TV. His first major success came as Sir Lancelot in Lerner and Lowe’s Camelot (Toronto, Boston, and New York, 1960), and the ballad “If Ever I Would Leave You” from Camelot remained his signature song thereafter. Widely considered the leading baritone of his generation, he went on to star in Broadway, touring, or TV productions of Brigadoon (which won an Emmy), Carousel, Kiss Me Kate, La Cage aux Folles, Man of La Mancha...

Article

Ice-T  

Justin A. Williams

[Morrow, Tracy ]

(b Newark, NJ, Feb 14, 1958). American rapper and actor. One of the first “gangsta” rappers to succeed in the music industry. Along with artists such as N.W.A., Ice-T helped bring national attention to West Coast rap. As a young teenager, he moved to Southern California from New Jersey. He attended Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles and danced with the West Coast Locksmiths and with the Radio Crew. With these groups, he appeared in the films Breakin’ (1984) and Breakin’ II: Electric Boogaloo (1984), two Hollywood films quick to cash in on the breakdancing fad. As an aspiring rapper, Morrow gave himself the name Ice-T, which he derived from one of his inspirations: pimp/poet/novelist Iceberg Slim. He released his major label debut, Rhyme Pays (1987, Sire), with assistance from DJ Aladdin and producer Afrika Islam. That same year, he recorded the title track for Dennis Hopper’s film ...

Article

Stephen Holden

revised by Travis D. Stimeling

(b Brownsville, TX, June 22, 1936). American country-music singer-songwriter and actor. He studied at Pomona College and attended Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship. A captain in the U.S. Army, Kristofferson was hired to teach English at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1965, but he decided instead to move to Nashville to begin a songwriting career. After a brief stint as a helicopter pilot in the Gulf Coast oilfields, he became a janitor at Columbia Records’ Nashville studio, where he met many of the city’s leading session musicians, recording artists, producers, and songwriters. His first hit songs were “Me and Bobby McGee” (1969, recorded by Roger Miller and later by Janis Joplin), and “Sunday Morning Coming Down” (1970), which earned the 1970 Country Music Association Song of the Year. He also recorded several albums for Fred Foster’s Monument Records, including the gold-certified ...

Article

Kathleen Hudson

(b Klein, TX, Nov 1, 1957). American songwriter, musician, and actor. Known for quirky stories, strong language, a wry tone, gentle and profound themes, and interesting music, Lyle Lovett has been influenced by fellow Texas songwriters Guy Clark, and Townes Van Zandt. His voice and appearance have created a distinctive image, but his reputation stands on the foundation of his songwriting.

Lovett grew up on a horse ranch in a suburb of Houston, graduating from Texas A&M University in 1982 with a degree in journalism and German. There, he met singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen, with whom he co-wrote “Front Porch Song” while both were playing in College Station’s Front Porch Band. After a stint playing music and studying in Germany, he went to Nashville, where, with the support of Guy Clark, he was signed to a recording contract with MCA/Curb Records. They released his self-titled debut album in ...

Article

Patricia Moss

[Bridges, Christopher Brian ]

(b Champaign, IL, Sept 11, 1977). American rapper and actor. He entered the music industry through the Atlanta-based radio station Hot 97 (later Hot 107.9) where he was known as DJ Chris Lova Lova. This position led to his acquaintance with the producer Timbaland, who featured him on the song “Phat Rabbit” from Timbaland’s album Tim’s Bio (Blackground, 1998). This collaboration provided Ludacris with national exposure, essentially launching his career as a rapper. In 2000 he signed with the hip-hop label Def Jam South and released his debut album Back for the First Time, which reached number four on the US Billboard 200. His musical style is exuberant and profanity laden and features a combination of humor, fiery raps, and clever rhythms. Ludacris has sold more than 12 million albums and received awards from MTV, the Screen Actors Guild, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and the Broadcast Films Critics Association. This visibility and commercial success, however, has led to some instances of controversy. In ...