1. Victoria Spivey, Blues Singer and Pianist, Her first professional experience was in a family string band led by her father in Houston. She also played on her own at local parties and, in 1918, was hired to accompany films at the Lincoln Theater in Dallas. As a teenager, she worked in local bars, nightclubs, and buffet flats, mostly alone, but occasionally with singer-guitarists such as Blind Lemon Jefferson. In 1926, she moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where she was signed by Okeh Records. Her first recording, “Black Snake Blues”, did well, and her association with the record label continued. She made numerous Okeh sides in New York until 1929, then switched to the RCA Victor label. Between 1931 and 1937, more recordings followed on the Vocalion and Decca labels, and, working out of New York, she maintained an active performance schedule. Spivey’s recorded accompanists included King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Lonnie Johnson, and Red Allen. She recorded many of her own songs, which dwelt on disease, crime and outré sexual images.
The Depression did not put an end to Spivey’s musical career, but she had found a new outlet for her talent in the year of the crash, when film director King Vidor cast her to play “Missy Rose” in his first sound film, Hallelujah!. Through the 1930s and 1940s, Spivey continued to work in musical films and stage shows, often with her husband, vaudeville dancer Billy Adams, including the Hellzapoppin’ Revue.
2. Nellie Lutcher, R&B and jazz Vocalist and pianist, who gained prominence in the late 1940s and early 1950s. She was most recognizable for her her diction and exaggerated pronunciation, and was credited as an influence by Nina Simone among others.
3. Mickey “Guitar” Baker, Vocalist and Guitaristis . He is widely held to be a critical force in the bridging of rhythm and blues and rock and roll, along with Bo Diddley, Ike Turner, and Chuck Berry.
4. Marv Johnson, R&B and soul singer, most notable for performing on the first record to be issued from what became Motown. He began his career singing with a doo-wop group called the Serenaders in the mid 1950s. With budding talents not only as a singer but as a songwriter and pianist, he was discovered by Berry Gordy while Johnson performed at a carnival. Gordy had already decided to form his first record label, Tamla, and Johnson’s recording of “Come to Me” became the label’s first single in May 1959. The fledgling label did not have national distribution and so the song was released by United Artists, and reached #30 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Between 1959 and 1961, Johnson would issue nine Billboard Hot 100 singles including two Top 10s. The first of them was “You Got What It Takes”, which reached #10 in the US and #7 in the UK Singles Chart. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. “I Love The Way You Love” reached #9. He scored his final US Top 40 single in 1960 with “(You’ve Got To) Move Two Mountains”. It also sold a million copies, giving Johnson his second gold disc.
5. Tito Jackson, singer and lead guitarist and original member of The Jackson 5. He is the older brother of American pop stars Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson.
6. Eric Benet, singer. His duet with Tamia, “Spend My Life With You” was a number one song for three weeks on the US Billboard R&B chart and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2000.
7. Elgin Baylor Lumpkin, better known by his stage name Ginuwine, Is an American singer and performer. Signed to Epic Records since the mid-1990s, Ginuwine had released a number of multi-platinum and platinum-selling albums and singles, becoming one of R&B’s top artists during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s .
8. Keyshia Michelle Cole-Gibson, Hip-Hop and Soul recording artist from Oakland, California. She gained nationwide success when she released her platinum selling debut, The Way It Is in June 2005. Her sophomore album Just Like You came in production shortly after that and was released in September 2007. Her third studio album, A Different Me was released on December 16, 2008 and is certified Gold for selling 900,000+ units in the United States. She also achieved moderate success for her reality/documentary series Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is which aired on BET from 2006-2008 which gave a close look at Cole’s career and personal life with her biological mother and sister. In December 2010, she released her fourth studio album, Calling All Hearts.