Artist of the Half Term

At Mead Primary School we believe that all genres of music should be celebrated and successful artists should be recognised for their contribution to music!

Autumn 1

Francis Albert Sinatra was born on 12th December 1915. He was an American singer and film actor. Sinatra found huge success as a solo artist from the early to mid-1940s after being signed by Columbia Records in 1943. He released his first album, The Voice of Frank Sinatra in 1946. His professional career had stalled by the early 1950s, but it was reborn in 1953 after he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in the film From Here to Eternity. 

By 1961, Sinatra had created his own record label, (Reprise Records) and was singing all over the world. He was a founding member of the ’Rat Pack’ and spent lots of time with famous celebrities and politicians (other famous actors in the Rat Pack included Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Junior).

With sales of his music dwindling and after appearing in several poorly received films, Sinatra retired for the first time in 1971. Two years later, however, he came out of retirement and in 1973 recorded several very successful albums.

Sinatra is one of the best known artists of all time, selling over 50,000,000 records! 

Frank Sinatra died on 14th May 1998 as one of the world’s most famous singers.

Autumn 2

The Beatles

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960 and consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. 

The Beatles built their reputation playing clubs in Liverpool but quickly gained popularity in the United Kingdom after their first hit, “Love Me Do”, in late 1962. Their enormous popularity was named “Beatlemania” and the group were given the nickname the “Fab Four“. 

From 1965 on, the Beatles produced what many critics consider their finest material, including the hugely popular Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club (1967), The Beatles (1968), and Abbey Road (1969). 

After their break up in 1970, they each enjoyed successful musical careers. 

Sadly, John Lennon was shot and killed in December 1980, and George Harrison died of lung cancer in November 2001.  Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr still make music and appear in concerts.

Records show that the Beatles are the best-selling bands in the United  States, with 177 million record sales. They have had more number-one  albums on the British charts and sold more singles in the UK than any other act. 

Spring 1

Elton John

Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on 25th March 1947. He was raised in Pinner, Middlesex in a small council house and attended Pinner Wood Junior School, Reddiford School and Pinner County Grammar School. He left school at 17 to pursue a career in the music industry. 

Elton is a hugely successful singer, composer, pianist, record producer, and occasional actor. He has worked with lyricist Bernie Taupin as his songwriter partner since 1967; they have collaborated on more than 30 albums to date.

In his five-decade career, Elton has sold more than 300 million records, making him one of the best selling music artists in the world. He has more than fifty top 40 hits, including seven consecutive No. 1 US albums. His single “Candle in the Wind” sold over 33 million copies worldwide and is the best-selling single of all time. He has received many awards for his music (Grammy Awards, Brit Awards, an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award and Tony Award).

In 1998, Elton received a knighthood from the Queen Elizabeth for “services to music and charitable services”. He has performed at a number of royal events, such as the funeral of Princess Diana at Westminster Abbey in 1997, the Party at the Palace in 2002 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert in 2012.

Over the last 30 years, Elton John has raised over $200,000,000 for different  charities. He is especially famous for hosting the annual Academy Award Party, which is a party for rich and famous people after the Oscar ceremony.

Spring 2

Barry Manillo

Barry Manilow was born on 17th June 1943 in Brooklyn, New York. He was named Barry Alan Pincus but adopted his mothers maiden name when he was a teenager.  Barry Manilow attended Eastern District High School, graduating in 1961. That same year, he enrolled in the Julliard performing arts school, while working at CBS, (a radio and television company), to pay his expenses.

In 1964, a CBS director asked him to arrange some songs for a musical. It was hugely successful and  enjoyed an eight-year run at New York’s 13th Street Theatre. From then on, Barry Manilow then earned money by working as a singer, pianist and producer.

Barry Manilow is best known for such recordings as “Mandy”, “Can’t Smile Without You”, and “Copacabana”. He has recorded a string of huge hit singles and multi-platinum albums that have resulted in his being named Radio & Records’ No. 1 adult contemporary artist, and winning three straight American Music Awards for favourite pop/rock male artist. 

Between 1974 and 1983, Barry Manilow had three No. 1 singles and 25 that reached the top 40.  As well as producing and arranging albums for other artists Barry Manilow has written songs for musicals, films, and commercials.  He has sold more than 80 million records worldwide.

Summer 1

Nina Simone

Eunice Waymon was born on 21st February 1933 in North Carolina, USA and grew up to become one of the most famous classical, jazz, blues, folk, R&B. gospel and pop singers of her generation. She changed her stage name to Nina Simone. “Nina” comes from the Spanish word Nina (neen-ya) which means “little one”. “Simone” was taken from a famous French actress Simone Signoret.

Whilst growing up, Simone aspired to be a concert pianist. Her musical path changed direction after she was denied a scholarship to the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, despite a well-received audition. Simone was later told by someone working at Curtis that she was rejected because she was black. Sadly, racism played a big part in the American way of life in the 1950s and 60s. She began playing in a small club in Philadelphia to pay for her musical education and become a classical pianist. Whilst at the club she was approached by Bethlehem Records after a producer heard her sing “I Loves You, Porgy”. This was a big hit in the US and started her hugely successful career which included more than 40 albums.

In the early 1960s, she became involved in the civil rights movement and the campaign for equal rights for all in the United States. In later years, she lived abroad, finally settling in France in 1992. She sold millions of records and received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2000 and was a fifteen-time Grammy Award nominee over the course of her career. Nina Simone died in her sleep at her home in France on April 21, 2003. 

Summer 2

Stevie Wonder

Stevland Hardaway Morris was born in Michigan, USA, in 1950, the third of six children to Calvin Judkins and Lula Mae Hardaway. He was born six weeks premature, which, along with a problem with the hospital incubator, resulted in a condition which caused the retinas to detach from the eye; this meant he became blind. 

Wonder began playing instruments at an early age, including the piano, harmonica, drums and bass. He formed a singing partnership with a friend; calling themselves Stevie and John, they played on street corners, and occasionally at parties and dances. In 1961, when aged 11, Wonder was signed by Motown (a famous record label). Before signing, producer Clarence Paul gave him the name Little Stevie Wonder. 

Among Wonder’s works are singles such as “Superstition”, “Sir Duke”, “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” and “I Just Called to Say I Love You”. He has recorded more than thirty U.S. top ten hits and received twenty-two Grammy Awards, the most ever awarded to a male solo artist. Wonder has sold over 100 million albums and singles, making him one of the top 60 best-selling music artists. 

Wonder is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday a holiday in the United States.