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Choral

Eva Jessye

  • Born: January 20, 1895
  • Died: February 21, 1992
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Coffeyville

Achievement:

Eva Jessye was a singer and actress who is acknowledged as the first African-American woman to win international distinction as a director of a professional choral group.

Eva Jessye image
Eva Jessye
Photo courtesy of blackpast.org

Christian

Jennifer Knapp

  • Born: April 12, 1974
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Chanute

Achievement:

Jennifer Knapp is a Christian rock and folk rock musician who recorded seven albums with one reaching Recording Industry Association of America Gold certification, had two singles reach number one on the Christian rock charts and been nominated for two Grammy Awards.

Complete Discography

Jennifer Knapp image
Jennifer Knapp
Photo by Fairligh Hubbard

Country

Martina McBride

  • Born: July 29, 1966
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Sharon

Achievement:

Martina McBride is a country music singer and songwriter that has recorded 17 albums with nine of them reaching Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) Gold certification. She has had six singles reach number one on the Billboard country and adult contemporary charts and has been named country music female vocalist of the year six times and a 14-time Grammy award nominee.

Complete Discography

Martina McBride image
Martina McBride
Photo by Andrew Southam

Chely Wright

  • Born: October 25, 1970
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Raised in Wellsville

Achievement:

Chely Wright is a country music singer and songwriter who has recorded nine albums, has had more than 15 singles on the country music charts and was named top new female vocalist in 1995. She was named a member of the Kansas Music Hall of Fame in 2011.

Complete Discography

Chely Wright image
Chely Wright
Photo by Michael Granberry

Folk

Gene Clark

  • Born: November 17, 1944
  • Died: May 24, 1991
  • Connection to Kansas: Lived in Kansas City

Achievement:

Gene Clark was one of the founding members and main songwriter for the folk-rock group The Byrds. He would later try to make it as a solo artist. He made three albums as a member of The Byrds and 11 albums as a solo artist.

Complete Discography

Gene Clark image
Gene Clark
Photo courtesy of last.fm

Jazz

Coleman Hawkins

  • Born: November 21, 1904
  • Died: May 19, 1969
  • Connection to Kansas: Graduated High School in Topeka

Achievement:

Known as "Hawk," Coleman Hawkins was a jazz tenor saxophonist who was one of the first prominent jazz musicians on his instrument. He was most strongly associated with swing and big band music, but he had a role in the developement of bebop in the 1940s. He produced 26 records as the lead musician and nine more as a sideman.

Complete Discography

Coleman Hawkins image
Coleman Hawkins
Photo courtesy of jazzwax.com

Charlie Parker

  • Born: August 29, 1920
  • Died: March 12, 1955
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Kansas City

Achievement:

Known as "Yardbird" and "Bird," Charlie Parker was a jazz saxophonist and composer who was a leading figure in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos and improvisation. He produced revolutionary harmonic ideas and sometimes combined jazz with other musical genres. He produced 35 records and nearly 60 compositions. He posthumously won a Grammy Award in 1974.

Complete Discography

Charlie Parker image
Charlie Parker
Photo by William P. Gottlieb

Opera

Kirke Mechem

  • Born: August 16, 1925
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Wichita

Achievement:

Kirke Mechem is a composer whose first opera, Tartuffe, has become one of the most popular operas written by an American with nearly 400 performances in six countries. He has composed more than 250 works in almost every form.

Kirke Mechem image
Kirke Mechem
Photo courtesy of kirkemechem.com

Samuel Ramey

  • Born: March 28, 1942
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Colby

Achievement:

Samuel Ramey is an opera singer who has reigned as one of the music world's foremost interpreters of bass and bass-baritone operatic and concert repertoire. He performs at the world's most important opera houses and concert halls.

Samuel Ramey image
Samuel Ramey
Photo by Brad Guice / Sony Music Entertainment

Rhythm & Blues

Jesse Stone

  • Born: November 16, 1901
  • Died: April 1, 1999
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Atchison

Achievement:

Jesse Stone was one of th greatest songwriters of the early rhythm & blues (R&B) and rock & roll era. He wrote several songs that topped the pop and R&B charts and were covered by music legends such as Elvis Presley and Ray Charles. He was inducted into the R&B Hall of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Jesse Stone image
Jesse Stone
Photo by Charlie Gillett / Redferns

Rock

Melissa Etheridge

  • Born: May 29, 1961
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Leavenworth

Achievement:

Melissa Etheridge is a rock and folk-rock singer songwriter that has recorded 16 albums with five of them reaching Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) Platinum certification and one reach Gold certification. She is a 15-time Grammy Award nominee, winning Best Female Rock Vocal Performance in 1993 and again in 1995. She won an Academy Award in 2007 for Best Original Song and was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011

Complete Discography

Melissa Etheridge image
Melissa Etheridge
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Kansas

  • Connection to Kansas: Formed in Topeka

Achievement:

Kansas is a progressive rock band that became popular in the 1970s through the 1980s. The original band lineup consisted of four out of five members from the state of Kansas. In all Kansas has produced 28 albums with four reaching Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) Gold status, five reaching RIAA Platinum status, 14 Billboard top 100 hits with two singles reaching RIAA Gold status.

Complete Discography

Kansas Album Cover image
The Best of Kansas Album Cover
Photo courtesy of Columbia Records

Kerry Livgren

  • Born: September 18, 1949
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Topeka

Achievement:

Kerry Livgren was one of the founding members and primary songwriter of the rock band Kansas, but left to try a solo career, form the band AD and later formed the band Proto-Kaw. In all he has produced 27 albums with Kansas, AD, Proto-Kaw and his solo career.

Complete Discography

Kerry Livgren image
Kerry Livgren
Photo courtesy of last.fm

Joe Walsh

  • Born: November 20, 1947
  • Died:
  • Connection to Kansas: Born in Wichita

Achievement:

Joe Walsh is a guitarist who has had success as a solo artist and as a member of the rock group The Eagles. Rolling Stone magazine recognized him as one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. He has recorded five albums as a member of The Eagles and 11 albums as a solor artist. He has won five Grammy Awards as a member of The Eagles.

Complete Discography

Joe Walsh image
Joe Walsh
Photo by Lily & Camelia Photography