Singer Pianists

Some of our greatest jazz singers never intended to sing; they were pianists. Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, and Dinah Washington were all capable pianists but still wanted to become vocalists. And though Carmen and Sarah occasionally sat down at the piano to accompany themselves, they are known as vocalists. But Nina Simone, Shirley Horn, and Diana Krall aspired only to be pianists. And Nat King Cole was initially a renowned jazz pianist before he took up singing. They were all told they would get more work if they sang, And the rest is history. Nat King Cole become one of America’s most popular vocalists. And Nina, Shirley, and Diana became singer-pianists. They accompany themselves, and it’s safe to say that their success rests on their singing, not on their piano skills -- as good as they are.

What Is Soul?
Soul music is a popular music genre that originated in the African American community in the 1950s and early 1960s. It combines elements of African-American gospel music, rhythm and blues, and jazz. Ray Charles is credited with helping develop the form.

image Fats Waller"FATS" WALLER (1904-1943) was an American jazz pianist, organist, composer, violinist, singer, and comedic entertainer. His innovations in the Harlem stride style laid the groundwork for modern jazz piano. He was one of the few jazz musicians of his time to enjoy commercial success Some of his compositions became well-known standards.

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image of Blossom DearieBLOSSOM DEARIE (1924–2009) was a jazz pianist and singer with a recognizably light and girlish voice. She performed regular engagements over many years in London and New York cabaret clubs, having a devoted following and admired for her piano skills.

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Image of Nina SImone

NINA SIMONE (1933-2003) was a singer, pianist, songwriter, arranger, and civil rights activist. Her music spanned a broad range of musical styles including classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop. She had a formidable presence.

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image of Ray CharlesRAY CHARLES (1930-2004) was a brilliant, towering musical figure who, through his singing and piano playing, helped invent soul and R&B music.

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Image of Shirley HornSHIRLEY HORN (1934–2005) was noted for her ability to accompany herself with nearly incomparable independence. Her singing style was both swinging and soulful.

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Ragtime was America’s popular music from the late 1800s to 1920. It was composed for the piano for playing not dancing. It is in duple meter (2 heats to the bar) with a highly syncopated treble lead over a rhythmically steady bass. Scott Joplin is its best known composer. Stride evolved from ragtime as exemplified by Fats Waller.