Her achievements as a singer are often overshadowed by her accomplishments as a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actress, author, businesswoman, and humanitarian. But make no mistake: no other singer has done more to popularize country music than Dolly Parton has, primarily because of her uncomplicated, unmannered and completely honest way with any song. Her sound is as fresh and her voice as pretty in her seventies as it was over fifty years ago.
NAT “KING” COLE
Nathaniel Adams Coles was known professionally as Nat King Cole. A consummate vocalist, jazz pianist, film and Broadway actor, he recorded over 100 songs during an all too brief career. His trio was the model for many jazz combos that came after his, and his smooth baritone voice and stylish singing ranked him as one of the finest male singers of his generation. Cole was the first African-American artist to host an American television series
Singer, actress, and filmmaker, with a career that has spanned over six decades, she has achieved success in multiple fields of entertainment, and is among the few performers to earn an Emmy, an Oscar, a Tony and a Grammy. She began her career by performing in nightclubs and Broadway theaters in the early 1960s. Throughout her recording career, Streisand has recorded songs like People, Evergreen, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, and (below) The Way We Were that helped establish her reputation as an impeccable musician and vocalist.
Now in his nineties and still singing, Tony Bennett retains the youthful vocal freshness of sixty years ago, paired to superb musicianship and elegant phrasing. Throughout his career Bennett has held on to his high standards, always refusing to embrace trendiness and always performing in elegant business suits and in a simple manner the best of American pop standards, especially those from the American Song Book, while continuing to earn the admiration of critics, colleagues, and audiences.
Peggy Lee first sang professionally at age 16 and then continued to perform in her seventies well into the 1990s, sometimes using a wheelchair, never abandoning her cool, laid back approach to lyrics about love and loss. Hers was a smallish voice on which she capitalized by scaling down the dynamics of all the songs she sang in cabaret, in concert, on television and in recordings. Lee was a masterful interpreter who turned minimalism into a virtue.