Of the many things that Philly has given to the world, musicians has to be one of the best. With such a rich history and artistic scene, there’s no surprise that Philly has produced a wide variety of musicians who created top hits. Here’s who we think are the best of the best to come out of our city with our top Philly musicians.
Coltrane was a jazz saxophonist and composer who was at the forefront of “free jazz,” which influenced many other musicians and remains one of the most significant saxophonist in jazz history. At 17 he moved to Philadelphia and at 20 began his jazz theory studies under a Philadelphia guitarist.
Pendergrass was raised by a single mother in Philadelphia and grew up singing at his church and dreamt of becoming a pastor. He went on to become a famous R&B and soul singer. After he was famously injured in a tragic car accident in Philadelphia he went on to raise money and awareness for people with disabilities.
Born in Philadelphia, Avalon was on television playing his trumpet. He went on to become an actor and was often paired with Annette Funicello to star in wholesome team beach party films. He performed his hit “Beauty School Dropout,” in the 1978 film Grease. The song characterizes his sweet beachy sound.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Patti was known for her gifted voice even as a child. LaBelle is a celebrated gospel, jazz and R&B Singer probably known best for her hit, Lady Marmalade.
The musical duo of Daryl Hall and John Oates achieved great success with their patented fusion of tock and roll and R&B which they dubbed “rock soul.” These Philadelphia musicians made six number 1 hits such as, “Rich Girl,” and “Man-eater.”
The Roots are a legendary hip hop and neo-soul band who are/were at the forefront of jazzy, instrumental hip hop. Black Thought and Questlove met as classmates at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts.
Born and raised in North Philadelphia grammy wining singer and songwriter Jill Scott attended the Philadelphia High School for Girls. She began her music career by performing as spoken word artist. She was eventually discovered by fellow Philadelphian, Amir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots.
Hailing from West Philly, Dr. Dog is an experimental, lo-fi indie rockband
The adorable boy band known as Boyz II Men specialized in emotional ballads and a cappella harmonies. Most popular in the 1990s, they are still the most successful R&B group of all time.
Born in South Carolina but raised in the projects of South Philly, Chubby Checker popularized the twist dance style.
Will Smith – This rapper turned movie star is famously, “west Philadelphia born and raised. On the playground,” he spent most of his days.
Nina Simone – She applied for a scholarship to study at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where she was denied despite a well-received audition. Simone became fully convinced this rejection had been entirely due to her race, a statement that has been a matter of controversy. Years later, two days before her death, the Curtis Institute of Music bestowed an honorary degree on Simone.
Jocko Henderson – He was an American radio disc jockey, businessman, and hip hop music pioneer. In a 2013 interview, Questlove described Jocko Henderson as “unofficially the first MC”(adapting a jazz style of scat singing in the late disco era), and stated that he was a major influence on the earliest rap and hip-hop in Philadelphia in the late 1970s.
Our Philly artist playlist:
1. Blue Train – Johnny Coltrane
2. When Somebody Loves You – Teddy Pendergrass
3. Beauty School Drop-Out – Frankie Avalon
4. On My Own – Patti LaBelle
5. Rich Girl – Hall & Oates
6. The Seed (2.0) – The Roots
7. A Long Walk – Jill Scott
8. Shadow People – Dr. Dog
9. Boyz II Men – I’ll Make Love To You
10. Let’s Twist Again – Chubby Checker
11. Switch – Will Smith
12. Feeling Good – Nina Simone
13. Rhythm – Jocko Henderson
Post contributed by: Abbie McAleer