Famous Singers from New York: A Look at the City’s Musical Legacy

Famous Singers from New York
Written by Corey Morgan

New York City has long been a hub for some of the most influential and talented musicians in the world, and its vibrant music scene has produced countless iconic singers over the years. From the soulful crooners of the 1950s to the rap legends of today, famous singers from New York have made an indelible mark on the world of music.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most famous singers to come out of the Big Apple, from Frank Sinatra to Jay-Z. We’ll explore their backgrounds, their contributions to music, and the impact they’ve had on fans around the world.

Whether you’re a lifelong New Yorker or simply a fan of great music, you’ll find something inspiring and informative in this guide to famous singers from New York. So, sit back, relax, and let’s take a journey through the rich musical history of the city that never sleeps.

Early New York Singers

New York has a rich history of producing talented singers who have made significant contributions to the music industry. Some of the earliest singers from New York include:

Al Jolson

Al Jolson, born in Lithuania and raised in Washington, D.C., rose to fame as a vaudeville performer in the early 1900s. He was known for his energetic stage presence and his use of blackface, a controversial practice that he defended as a way to pay homage to African American performers. Jolson’s hits included “Swanee” and “April Showers,” and he went on to star in several Hollywood films.

Eddie Cantor

Eddie Cantor, another vaudeville star, was known for his quick wit and comedic timing. He made his mark on the music industry with hits like “Makin’ Whoopee” and “If You Knew Susie,” and he later transitioned to radio and television.

Sophie Tucker

Often referred to as the “Last of the Red Hot Mamas,” was a trailblazer for women in the music industry. She was known for her powerful voice and her bawdy sense of humor, and she became one of the highest-paid performers of her time. Tucker’s hits included “Some of These Days” and “My Yiddishe Mama,” and she continued to perform well into her 80s.

These early New York singers paved the way for future generations of performers and helped establish the city as a hub for musical talent.

Jazz and Blues Legends

New York’s vibrant jazz scene in the 1930s and 1940s gave rise to some of the most legendary singers of all time. Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Lena Horne all made their mark on the music industry with their distinctive styles and powerful voices.

Billie Holiday

also known as “Lady Day”, was a pioneer of the jazz vocal style known as “swing.” Her hits included “Strange Fruit” and “God Bless the Child,” and she is widely regarded as one of the greatest jazz singers of all time.

Holiday’s unique phrasing and emotional delivery set her apart from her contemporaries, and her influence can still be heard in the music of today.

Ella Fitzgerald

known as the “First Lady of Song,” was another jazz icon. Her pure, clear voice and impeccable timing made her one of the most beloved singers of her time.

Fitzgerald’s hits included “Dream a Little Dream of Me” and “Summertime,” and she won 13 Grammy Awards over the course of her career.

Lena Horne

A singer, actress, and civil rights activist, was a trailblazer for African American performers. Her silky-smooth voice and stunning beauty made her a star in Hollywood, and she later became a prominent figure in the civil rights movement. Horne’s hits included “Stormy Weather” and “The Lady is a Tramp,” and she continued to perform well into her 80s.

Rock and Pop Icons

The latter half of the 20th century saw the rise of pop music, and New York was once again at the forefront of this movement. Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, and Billy Joel all became household names, thanks to their distinctive voices and memorable hits.

Frank Sinatra

Famously known as “Ol’ Blue Eyes,” was a crooner who captivated audiences with his smooth, romantic ballads. Some of his most beloved hits include “My Way” and “Fly Me to the Moon,” and he earned a plethora of awards throughout his career, including an Academy Award for his role in “From Here to Eternity.”

Barbra Streisand

A multitalented performer who has excelled as a singer, actress, and director, is one of the most successful entertainers of all time.

Her powerful voice and unique style have endeared her to fans around the world, and some of her most popular songs include “The Way We Were” and “People.” Streisand has won numerous accolades over the course of her career, including two Academy Awards and ten Grammy Awards.

Billy Joel

A singer-songwriter and pianist, became a pop icon in the 1970s and 1980s. His hits included “Piano Man” and “Uptown Girl,” and he has sold over 150 million records worldwide. Joel’s distinctive voice and catchy melodies made him a favorite of fans around the world.

Hip Hop and R&B Stars

New York has been home to some of the most iconic hip hop and R&B artists of all time. Here are three of the biggest names to come out of the state:


Whose birth name is Shawn Corey Carter, is a highly successful rapper, having released 14 studio albums and won 22 Grammy Awards. He is also the first hip-hop artist to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Known for his smooth flow and clever wordplay, some of Jay-Z’s most popular songs include “Empire State of Mind” and “99 Problems.

Alicia Keys

A talented singer, songwriter, and pianist, made a splash in the music industry with her debut album “Songs in A Minor” in 2001. Since then, she has released several successful albums and won 15 Grammy Awards. Known for her soulful voice and powerful lyrics, some of Keys’ most popular songs include “Fallin'” and “No One.”

Mariah Carey

A singer, songwriter, and actress, is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. With 15 studio albums under her belt and over 200 million records sold worldwide, Carey has won 5 Grammy Awards and is known for her impressive vocal range and chart-topping hits. Some of her most popular songs include “Hero” and “We Belong Together.”

Each of these performers has left an indelible mark on the music industry, inspiring countless fans and influencing future generations of performers.

Their unique styles and contributions to the world of music have helped to shape the landscape of popular music, and their legacy will continue to be celebrated for years to come.


From the early pioneers of pop to the jazz legends and pop icons of today, New York has produced some of the most iconic singers of all time.

Each of these performers brought their own unique style and voice to the music industry, paving the way for future generations of singers and inspiring countless fans around the world.

Whether you’re a fan of jazz, pop, or any other genre of music, there’s no denying the impact that these New York singers have had on the industry.

From Al Jolson to Alicia Keys, their contributions to the world of music will continue to be celebrated for generations to come.