Famous Black Musicians

Trumpeter Louis Armstrong
Underwood Archives/Archive Photos/Getty Images

In 1926, a Harvard scholar by the name of Dr. Carter G. Woodson organized the first annual Negro History Week. The said event happened on the second week of February which also coincides with the birthdays of two great civil rights leaders - Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Today, the month of February is known as Black History Month. In honor of this celebration, here are several profiles of famous African-American musicians.

Louis Armstrong - Musician and composer of jazz music, known as one of the founding fathers of jazz.

Chuck Berry - Blues and rock and roll guitarist and vocalist.

James Brown - Vocalist and keyboardist of Soul, R&B, Funk, Pop and Dance music genres.

Ray Charles - Known as "The Genius," he was a gospel singer/songwriter and pianist.

Nat King Cole - He started out as a pianist and later became known as a vocalist.

John Coltrane - Influential tenor jazz saxophonist.

Edmond Dede - Violin prodigy and Orchestra Conductor at the Alcazar Theatre for 27 years.

Duke Ellington - Composer, bandleader and jazz pianist, fondly called "The Duke."

Ella Fitzgerald - Known as "The First Lady of Song" and for her incredible scat-singing.

Dizzy Gillespie - One of the founding fathers of jazz and one of the inventors of bebop.

Billie Holiday - Dubbed "Lady Day," she was one of the foremost blues singers in history known for her soulful voice.

Francis Johnson - The inventor of cotillions and was the first major band master in the US.

Scott Joplin - Known as the "King of Ragtime" due to his classic rags for the piano.

B.B. King - Known as "The King of the Blues."

Charlie "Bird" Parker - Influenced the development of "bop" in the 1940s and was one of the greatest improvising soloists in jazz.

Florence Beatrice Price - The first African-American woman composer whose work was performed by a leading US orchestra.

Ma Rainey - Known as the first great blues singer, she made over 100 recordings under the Paramount label.

Bessie Smith - Known as "Empress of the Blues," one of the greatest blues singers of the 1920s.

Sarah Vaughan - One of the greatest jazz vocalists in history whose career spanned almost 50 years.

Fats Waller - Jazz organist, pianist, singer, composer, conductor and bandleader of small bands during the 1930s.