The Queen frontman chose a stage name in perfect harmony with his voice. He could move from an earthy baritone to a wild but heavenly tenor, and he connected with huge stadium audiences. The world lost the vibrant musician in 1991 when, at 45, he died of complications from AIDS.
The late Hawaiian musician known best for his ukulele-backed rendition of "Over the Rainbow" was a man with a standout voice and tremendous size. At more than 6 feet tall and weighing close to 1,000 pounds, "IZ" died when he was only 38.
Starting in the 1950s, Wells recorded hit after hit at a time when women didn't have hits in country music. When she performed, Wells delivered the goods with a country twang and a supple, powerful voice that reached right to the back of the house. She died Monday at the age of 92.
The writer-producer-arranger had a voice that was clear and powerful, and his piano-playing is remarkable in its own right. Although Hathaway is perhaps best known for his duets with singer Roberta Flack, the body of work he left behind when he died 30 years ago is part of the bedrock of American soul music.
Country music legend George Jones, who died today at 81, made a career out of turning hard living into heartbreaking songs. He could pull and bend notes until they made listeners hurt. In 2010, Jones told NPR's Melissa Block, "I try to live the song during that three minutes."
The singer, as widely known for her eccentric outfits and behavior as she is for her voice, is easily the most famous Icelander in the world. Inspired by childhood adventures walking among lava fields, Bjork's music is full of stories about pitch-dark forests and tiny sparks that live within them. Her music may prove challenging to listen to, but there are always moments of beauty and transcendence.
The Cuban singer, known worldwide as the "Queen of Salsa," grew up in neighborhoods where music was always in the air. She traveled for 15 years with the Sonora Matancera orchestra and settled in Fort Lee, N.J., home base for a decades-long career.