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Adams, Bryan  

Michael Ethen


(b Kingston, ON, Nov 5, 1959). Canadian rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and photographer. The son of a diplomat, he spent his youth in England, Israel, Portugal, and Austria. After returning with his family to North America, he began performing and recording at the age of 15 with rock bands in British Columbia and Ontario. In 1978 he began what became a long and successful songwriting partnership with Jim Vallance, with whom he created most songs recorded under his name up to 1987, as well as songs recorded by Rod Stewart, Kiss, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Diamond, and the Canadian groups Prism, BTO, and Loverboy.

Adams’ albums characteristically alternate between down-tempo piano ballads and straight-ahead rock numbers. His third solo album, Cuts like a Knife (1983) launched him to the status of an international celebrity; its singles included the ballad “Straight from the Heart” and the anthem “Cuts like a Knife,” which both featured for weeks on magazine charts and music television. The next album, ...


Adkins, Trace  

John Stanislawski

(b Springhill, LA, Jan 13, 1962). American country music singer. In line with country “hat acts” and neo-traditionalists such as Toby Keith and Tim McGraw, Trace Adkins has forged a working-class image and hard-driving sound by merging honky-tonk with Southern rock, gospel, and blues. His masculine bravado and allegiance to a blue-collar ethos has solidified his position as one of country’s top acts.

After time spent working on an oil rig, Adkins moved to Nashville in 1992 to pursue his musicalcareer. There he met producer Scott Hendricks, who signed him to Capitol Records. His 1996 debut album, Dreamin’ Out Loud, yielded the successful singles “Every Light in the House,” “I Left Something Turned on at Home,” and “(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing,” which became his first number-one country hit. Despite problems with alcoholism and a drunk-driving charge, his 2001 album Chrome reached the top five on Billboard’s Country Albums chart. In ...


Aguilera, Christina  

Abel Stewart

(María )

(b New York, NY, Dec 18, 1980). American singer. She is one of the most popular singers of her generation. Her father (originally from Ecuador), a sergeant in the US Army, and her American mother, a Spanish teacher, divorced when Aguilera was seven. As a child, Aguilera placed second on the television show Star Search, and performed on the Mickey Mouse Club along with Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. In 1998, she launched her recording career with a track for Disney’s animated film Mulan. In 1998 she also signed with RCA, and her first album, Christina Aguilera (1999) reached number one on the Billboard 200. Her singles from that album, “Genie in a Bottle,” “What a Girl Wants,” and “Come on Over Baby” reached Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Her first Spanish language album, Mi reflejo (2000), stood for 20 weeks at Number 1 on the Billboard Latin charts and earned her a Latin Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Album. In ...


Aldebert, Louis  

Barry Kernfeld

(Joseph Alexander)

(b Ismâ’ ilîya, Egypt, June 8, 1931). American singer and pianist of French origin. His full name appears in his 1972 Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen. He studied music in Paris and played piano with Don Byas (1955) and Stephane Grappelli (1957). He was a singer with the Blue Stars (1955–6), toured and recorded with the Double Six (1959–65), and took part in a session with Jon Hendricks and others (1965). Aldebert was married to the singer Monique Dozo (b Monaco, May 5, 1931; d Los Angeles, Jan 26, 2018; later known as Monique Aldebert-Guérin), who had sung with Bernard Peiffer (1947) and performed in Paris clubs with Byas, Django Reinhardt, Bobby Jasper, the Double Six (with which she recorded in 1959 and 1964), and Bill Coleman (1966). After moving to the USA (...


Allen, Steve  

Mark Tucker

[Stephen Valentine Patrick William]

(b New York, NY, Dec 16, 1921; d Encino, CA, Oct 30, 2000). American composer, radio and television personality, pianist, singer, and comedian. The son of Belle Montrose and Billy Allen, both of whom worked in vaudeville, he moved from place to place as a child, attending many schools for short periods of time. He played piano from an early age, although his musical training was mainly informal. He began a professional career in Los Angeles as a disc jockey on radio during the 1940s, then turned to television in the 1950s; he established himself as a comedian, and often played the piano during his shows, improvising jazz and singing his own songs. Among the musicians who appeared with him regularly was the vibraphonist Terry Gibbs. Allen’s most popular television program was “The Tonight Show,” which he began broadcasting locally in New York in 1953, subsequently leading it to nationwide success the following year. Allen performed the title role in the film ...


Allyn, David (Robert)  

Eric Thacker

revised by Barry Kernfeld

[Allen, DavidDeLella, Albert David Robert]

(b Hartford, CT, July 19, 1919; d West Haven, CT, Nov 21, 2012). American singer. Details of his name, birth, and death are in the Connecticut Death Index, the 1920 census (incorrectly transcribed there as “Defella”), and a family tree. He sang on radio as Al DeLella in Connecticut in the late 1930s, then transferred to a New York City radio station to sing with the bandleader Buddy Rocco, who persuaded him to take the name David Allen. He performed and recorded with Jack Teagarden’s big band (1940–42); by this time he was using both forms of his new surname, Allen and Allyn. Drafted into the army in April 1942, he was discharged after being injured in March 1943. From 1944 he worked with Boyd Raeburn, sometimes singing complicated arrangements by George Handy; his style is well represented by I only have eyes for you, which he recorded with Raeburn in ...


Anderson, Ernestine  

Chadwick Jenkins


(b Houston, TX, Nov 11, 1928; d Shoreline, WA, March 10, 2016). American jazz and blues singer. At the age of 12, she won a talent contest held at the El Dorado Ballroom in Houston by improvising new melodies to popular songs and in 1941 began performing with Russell Jacquet. In an attempt to remove Anderson from the nightclub scene and improve her academic standing, her family moved to Seattle in 1944. However, this was just as the jazz scene began to thrive there, and Anderson subsequently performed in bands under Bumps Blackwell, Ray Charles, Johnny Otis, and Lionel Hampton. She also recorded with Gigi Gryce (Nica’s Tempo, 1955, Savoy) and toured Scandinavia with Rolf Ericsen (1956). While in Sweden, she recorded her début album Hot Cargo (1956, Met.). This album, coupled with performances championed by Ralph J. Gleason, made Anderson a sensation. However, a legal dispute with Mercury, which prevented her from recording for around five years, then derailed her career. Anderson’s popularity was revived by a celebrated performance at the Concord Jazz Festival in ...


Andrews, Dame Julie  

Howard Goldstein

[Wells, Julia Elizabeth]

(b Walton-on-Thames, Oct 1, 1935). English singer and actress. Her prodigious talents as singer and dancer were recognized early on by her mother (Barbara Morris Wells, a pianist), and stepfather (Ted Andrews, a Canadian vaudeville performer). After vocal lessons with Lilian Stiles-Allen and sporadic appearances in her parents' act, she made her solo début at the age of 12 in the Starlight Roof revue (1947), singing ‘Je suis Titania’ from Ambroise Thomas' Mignon. She repeated this feat at the Royal Command Performance of 1948.

Following engagements on BBC radio (‘Educating Archie’, 1950–52) and in Christmas pantomimes, she was asked to play the female lead in the Broadway production of Sandy Wilson's West End musical The Boy Friend (1954). This led to her portrayal on Broadway of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady (1956), a role she repeated in London in 1958...


Anka, Paul  

S. Timothy Maloney


(b Ottawa, ON, July 30, 1941). Canadian singer-songwriter, naturalized American. He was singing for amateur shows and local radio stations by the age of ten and formed the Bobby Soxers vocal trio while still in high school. At 15 he recorded one of his own songs in Hollywood and in 1957 signed a songwriting and recording contract with ABC-Paramount in New York. His first single, “Diana” (EMI Columbia, 1957), was a number one hit and became one of the best-selling records in pop music history. Other hits followed, including “You are my destiny” (ABC-Paramount, 1958), “Lonely Boy” (ABC-Paramount, 1959), and “Put your head on my shoulder” (EMI Columbia, 1959). He also has more than 400 songs to his credit, many of which have been covered by other artists, among them, Buddy Holly, Johnny Mathis, Patti Page, Elvis Presley, Sammy Davis Jr., Barbra Streisand, and Michael Bublé. “My Way” (Reprise, ...


Marc Anthony  

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.”...



Shana Goldin-Perschbacher

[Hegarty, Antony]

(b Chichester, England, 1971). American singer-songwriter and pianist. After the Hegarty family moved to San Jose, Ccalifornia, in 1981, Antony studied experimental theater at New York University, formed a performance collective with Johanna Constantine, and collaborated with filmmaker William Basinski (Life on Mars, 1997) and rock icon Lou Reed (The Raven, Sire, 2003; Animal Serenade, RCA, 2004). Antony has become the world’s most famous transgender musician. Male-bodied and feminine-identified, Antony retains his birth name and uses masculine pronouns professionally. His band, Antony and the Johnsons (formed in 1996), is named after the murdered African American transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson.

Antony’s vocal depth, resonance, and melismatic grace evoke African American musical traditions. His tremulous vibrato and seemingly self-imposed limitations (also evident in his amateurish piano playing) express the grave earthly burdens of his lyrics. His eclectic work has been influenced by the AIDS-ravaged New York art scene (Peter Hujar), British synth-pop (Marc Almond), soul (Nina Simone, Boy George), and experimental underground music (Diamanda Galás). His band includes vocals, piano, drums, guitar, bass, cello, violin, and horns, he regularly appears with an orchestra, and he released an album of live symphonic performances with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra featuring arrangements by Nico Muhly, Rob Moose, Maxim Moston, and himself (...


Antritter, Dieter  

Gerhard Conrad

(b Pforzheim, Germany, Oct 6, 1929; d Königsbach-Stein, Germany, Aug 5, 2015). German soprano, tenor, and bass saxophonist. After receiving three lessons on guitar from a member of the Reinhardt clan he played in dance bands until 1950. He then contacted Sidney Bechet in Paris and learned to play soprano saxophone. He played in Germany with the arranger and bandleader Ernst Simon and also with American soldiers. In 1952 he founded the Quartier Latin Jazz Band, which he led to at least 2009; among its recordings is Dieter Antritter’s Quartier Latin Jazz Band (1996, Jazzpoint 1046). It gave concerts with many visiting musicians, including Mezz Mezzrow, Michel Attenoux, Benny Waters, Nelson Williams, and Peanuts Hucko. Antritter visited Canada in 1989 and worked with local musicians. His playing was influenced by the creole New Orleans jazz musicians and by swing musicians. He also wrote many articles for various newspapers and magazines....


Arden, Jann  

Lori Burns and Jada Watson

[Richards, Jann (Arden Anne)]

(b Springbank, AB, March 27, 1962). Canadian singer-songwriter. Her songs are characterized by a lyrical emphasis on heartbreak and introspection, set to seamless pop and rock arrangements featuring smooth vocals and catchy rhythmic riffs. She began writing songs at the age of 13 and released her debut single “Never Love a Sailor” as Jann Richards in 1980. Arden busked and performed with rock bands in clubs and at festivals before signing with A&M Records and releasing her debut album Time for Mercy (A&M, 1993), which included the single “I would die for you.” The album garnered her a Juno Award for Best New Solo Artist in 1994 and she subsequently received two more, for Songwriter of the Year, in 1995 and 2002.

Arden’s success continued with Living under June (A&M, 1994), which featured three of her biggest singles “Insensitive,” “Could I be your Girl,” and “Good Mother.” Arden has continued to release studio albums as well as a greatest hits album (...


Armatrading, Joan  

Liz Thomson

(b 9 Dec, 1950, St Kitts, Leeward Islands). English singer-songwriter. One of five children, she spent the first few years of her life with her grandparents in the West Indies, following the rest of her family to Birmingham in 1958. An introverted youngster, she taught herself piano and guitar and as a teenager, inspired initially by Marianne Faithfull, she began writing and performing her own songs in clubs. While singing in the touring production of Hair, she met Pam Nestor with whom she recorded an album, Whatever's for Us (Cube, 1972). Produced by Gus Dudgeon, who had also worked with David Bowie and Elton John, it was a critical success but a commercial failure. Back to the Night (A&M, 1975) established Armatrading as a solo artist. However, she gained both critical and popular acceptance with her next album, Joan Armatrading (A&M, 1976), which included her best-known hit single ...


Avalon, Frankie  

Alexandra M. Apolloni

[Avallone, Francis Thomas]

(b Philadelphia, PA, Sept 8, 1940). American pop vocalist of Italian descent. His career spanned music, film, and television, helping to define the image of the post-war Teen idol. A virtuoso trumpeter, Avalon released instrumental singles early in his career and led a jazz group, Rocco and the Saints, based in Philadelphia. Chancellor Records signed Avalon as a vocalist, aiming to capitalize on his boyish looks. Avalon’s singles for Chancellor include “Venus,” which spent five weeks at number one on the Billboard charts in 1959, and its follow-up, “Why.” The smooth vocals and reverberant textures of these recordings defined Avalon’s sound. He was first and foremost a ballad singer, and his recordings positioned him as a tame alternative to rock and roll, while his charm and boy-next-door appeal propelled him to fame with middle-class teenage girls.

Avalon made frequent appearances on Dick Clark’s television show American Bandstand and his first film role was alongside Clark in ...


Ayado, Chie  

Kazunori Sugiyama

revised by James Catchpole and Hiroko Otsuka

(b Osaka, Japan, Sept 10, 1957). Japanese singer. She learned piano from the age of three, studied singing when she was 17, and in her youth undertook some work as a piano accompanist. After graduating from high school she lived alternately in Kobe, Japan, and Los Angeles. She then went to New York, where she sang from 1986 to 1991 as a member of the gospel choir of the Tabernacle Church in Harlem. In 1991 she returned to Japan and performed with the trio led by the pianist Hiroshi Minami in 1992 and Mikio Masuda’s trio in 1998. Among her recordings is an album (1996) on which she was accompanied by a quartet comprising the guitarist Satoshi Inoue, Junior Mance, Calvin Hill, and Akira Tana. Ayado was employed as a dietician until 1998 and then decided to work exclusively as a professional musician. Since then she has become one of the most successful jazz singers in Japan, appearing frequently on television and performing at major concert halls around the country. She teaches gospel-style choirs in several Japanese cities and also plays piano and organ. Ayado appears in concert, accompanying herself on piano, and singing with a jazz group and with a gospel choir, on the video ...


Ayala, Ramón  

Elijah Wald

[Ramón Covarrubias]

(b Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, Dec 8, 1945). Mexican accordionist, singer, and bandleader. Born in Monterrey and raised in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Ramón Ayala has been the foremost figure in norteño music along the Gulf Coast and Texas border region since the 1970s. He first became famous in the 1960s as the accordionist and coleader of Los Relámpagos del Norte, with the singer-songwriter Cornelio Reyna; then formed his own band, Los Bravos del Norte, in 1971. In Mexico, Ayala is regarded as part of a great generation of border bandleaders, along with Carlos y José and Los Cadetes de Linares. North of the border, though, he has far outstripped his peers, and only California’s Los Tigres del Norte rival his ongoing popularity. Unlike the Tigres, who have consistently pushed norteño in new directions, Ayala is a traditionalist, and his success is due as much to his image as a hard-working, old-fashioned bearer of the classic tradition as to his intricate accordion passages and his keen eye for good material, from gunfighter corridos to romantically mournful ...


Badu, Erykah  

Jonas Westover

[Wright, Erica Abi ]

(b Dallas, TX, Feb 26, 1971). American singer, songwriter, and producer. She was singing for audiences by the age of four and cultivated her skills at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She briefly attended Grambling State University, but left to develop her music career and soon landed a contract with Universal Records. She became an immediate sensation; her first recording, Baduizm (Universal, 1997), reached number two on the Billboard charts, while its top single “On and On” received widespread attention and airplay. Her dark, breathy vocal style, reminiscent of jazz and soul singing, earned her two Grammy awards and four nominations. She went on to release a live album, Erykah Badu Live (Universal, 1997), and to work on a number of side projects with other artists, notably providing the hook for the Roots’ song “You got me.” After a brief respite she returned with ...


Baez, Joan  

Mark C. Samples


(b Staten Island, NY, Jan 9, 1941). American folk singer, songwriter, and activist. She was born to a Mexican father and Scottish mother. A self-taught singer and guitarist she began performing informally for classmates as a way to make friends. She became enthralled with folk music as a high school student in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her polished soprano voice and deft finger-picking style gained her local attention, and a guest performance at the Newport Folk Festival in 1959 was her first major professional success. After a short time attending Boston University Baez left to pursue her music career, which proceeded rapidly. She released six successful albums with Vanguard Records in the first half of the 1960s and toured widely. Her repertoire in these years consisted principally of traditional songs, but subsequently included new folk songs written by such contemporaries as Phil Ochs (“There but for Fortune”) and Bob Dylan (“It ain’t me babe” and “Farewell, Angelina”). Dylan’s songs became a staple for Baez, and the two had a high-profile but short romance. Baez was a bona fide folk star and used her celebrity to advocate for civil rights and protest against the Vietnam War. She was married to the anti-war activist David Harris from ...


Baker, Anita  

Jonas Westover

(b Toledo, OH, Jan 26, 1958). American R&B singer and songwriter. After moving to Detroit and achieving some success with the group Chapter 8, she began her own career with the album The Songstress (1983). Although she only found moderate success at first, her second album, Rapture (1985–86), contained several hits that rocketed her to stardom on both the R&B and pop music charts, especially the song “Sweet Love,” which she co-wrote with Gary Bias and Louis Johnson. Baker remained a fixture on the charts throughout the 1980s and early 90s with such songs as “Giving you the Best that I Got” (from Giving you the Best that I Got, 1988), for which she is best known. By 2010 Baker had won eight Grammy awards and four of her albums had reached platinum status. Using her exceptional range and powerful voice, she has mixed soul, gospel, and R&B in an adult contemporary style, which some critics have called romantic soul. She has toured extensively, especially during the early 1990s and the mid-2000s. In ...