#1 Nat King Cole
He was an American jazz vocalist and pianist who also acted in films and on television and performed on Broadway.
Nat grew up in Chicago, where, by age 12, he sang and played in the church where his father was a pastor.
Cole was the first African American man to host an American television series. After his show went off the air, Nat continued to be a presence on television.
King recorded over one hundred songs which became hits on the pop charts. His trio was the model for small jazz ensembles which followed.
In 1993, Nat was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame. In 1965, he made his last recordings less than 14 days before his death, for the “L*O*V*E” album.
#2 Eddie Kendricks
He was an American songwriter and singer. As a solo artist, Eddie recorded several hits of his own during the 1970s, including the number-one single “Keep On Truckin.” Kendricks was also the lead voice on several famous songs such as “Get Ready”, ”The Way You Do The Things You Do”, and “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me).”
Eddie is portrayed by Terron Brooks in The Temptations’ 1998 TV miniseries, The Temptations (1998).
He co-founded the Motown singing group ”The Temptations,” and was one of their lead singers from 1960 until 1971.
Kendricks disliked the “psychedelic soul” music which ”The Temptations” began singing in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This was one of the main reasons why he eventually left the group.
#3 Brittany Howard
She is an American musician who is best known as the guitarist and the lead vocalist of American rock bands Alabama Shakes and Thunderbitch.
The band went on to perform on numerous late-night shows, including The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Additionally, Brittany is a singer in the band Bermuda Triangle with Becca Mancari and Jesse Lafser, that was formed in Nashville in 2017.
Howard had an older sister named Jaime who died in 1998.
The artist was born to Christ and KJ Howard in Athens, Alabama.
#4 Sun Ra
He was an American piano and synthesizer player, bandleader, jazz composer, and poet. For much of his career, Sun led “The Arkestra,” an ensemble with an ever-changing name and flexible line-up.
Ra was born and raised in Alabama, and, during the late 1940s, he became involved in the Chicago jazz scene.
Sun is best known for his experimental music, “cosmic” philosophy, prolific output, and theatrical performances.
#5 Percy Sledge
He was an American R&B, soul and gospel singer who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.
In later years, Sledge received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Career Achievement Award.
In 2010, Percy was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
Sledge is best known for the song “When a Man Loves a Woman”, a No. 1 hit on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B singles charts in 1966.
Having previously worked as a hospital orderly in the early 1960s, Percy achieved his strongest success in the late 1960s and early 1970s with many emotional soul songs.
#6 Jason Isbell
He is an American guitarist and singer-songwriter from Green Hill, Alabama, in Lauderdale County.
On April 5, 2007, Jason announced that he was no longer a member of Drive-By Truckers.
He has won four Grammy Awards.
Isbell is known for his work with the band The 400 Unit, his solo career, and as a former member of Drive-By Truckers for six years, from 2001 to 2007.
On June 15, 2014, Jason teamed with Mike and Hood Cooley for a benefit at the Shoals Theater.
#7 Eddie Floyd
He is an American soul-R&B singer and songwriter. On September 1, 2017, age 80, Eddie performed live at the Royal Albert Hall BBC Proms with Jools Holland in a tribute concert to 50 years of Stax Records synonymous with Southern Soul music.
In 2016, Floyd received a brass note on the Beale Street Brass Notes Walk of Fame. In 2018, he was named to the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.
Eddie was born in Montgomery, Alabama, and grew up in Detroit, Michigan.
He is best known for his work on the Stax record label in the 1960s and 1970s including the number 1 R&B hit song “Knock on Wood.”
#8 Eddie Levert
He is an American actor and singer-songwriter who is best known as the lead vocalist of the group, ”The O’Jays.”
In 1969, ”The O’Jays” signed with Philadelphia International Records where they released hit after hit and were propelled to stardom.
Between 1972-1978, the group had 8 No. 1 R&B singles, including “Love Train”, “Back Stabbers”, “I Love Music (Part 1)”, and “Used Ta Be My Girl.”
In 2006, upon returning from a very successful South African tour with sons, tragedy struck as Levert’s son Gerald unexpectedly lost his life due to negative interactions between his prescribed medications.
In 2010, Levert appeared in an infomercial, hosted by Angela Martinez and Smokey Robinson, for TimeLife’s “The Best of Soul Train” DVD collection.
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#9 Emmylou Harris
She is an American songwriter, singer, and musician who has worked with numerous artists.
Harris won a drama scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
In 2018, Emmylou was presented with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Harris won the Polar Music Prize, 14 Grammys as well as an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
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#10 Lionel Richie
He is an American songwriter, singer, actor, and record producer. Richie attended and graduated from Joliet Central High School in Joliet, Illinois.
His style of ballads with the Commodores and his solo career launched him as one of the most successful balladeers of the 1980s.
Lionel has performed with the SAS (Spike Edney’s All Stars) Band.
On June 12, 2002, Richie performed at benefit dinner for Global Business Council on HIV/AIDS in front of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former President Bill Clinton.
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#11 Hank Williams, Sr.
He was an American singer-songwriter and musician who recorded 35 singles which reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 11 that ranked number one.
In 1949, Hank was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. In 1961, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
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