Philadelphia and music go together like a Rita’s Water Ice and a pretzel. It’s no surprise then that some of the most popular singers in the world come from Philadelphia.
This list is for people who are “from” Philadelphia – that is, they paid City wage tax (ask a Philly resident about this and you’ll understand why non-Philadelphians aren’t included), they qualify to be on our list. That means even though we love Pink, she’s from Doylestown. So we can’t include her here. Sadly, even Daryl Hall from Hall and Oates can’t make the list. He was born in Pottstown, PA.
This list includes singers from Philly, “born and raised”. Some on our list will come as no surprise. But you might be stunned by the others.
Let’s get started!
After recording the hit song I Miss You, Pendergrass’ voice became synonymous with Harold Melvin and the Blue Note’s sound. And that was just the beginning. With Pendergrass out front, the group recorded a string of hits that have been covered by many. Perhaps the most famous being If You Don’t Know Me By Now. This song has been remade numerous times over the years, most notably by Simply Red.
Teddy’s solo career was equally successful, featuring hits like: I Don’t Love You Anymore, Love T.K.O, Close the Door, Joy, Feel the Fire (duet with Stephanie Mills) and many, many more.
Without question, Teddy Pendergrass more than qualifies to lead off our list.
Most know Vivian Green as a prolific songstress on cuts like Emotional Rollercoaster and Get Right Back to My Baby. What many don’t know is this East Oak Lane native is a songwriter for the likes of Boyz II Men and sang backup for Jill Scott.
One of the early influencers of the Neo Soul era, Musiq Soulchild entered the arena with his debut album Aijuswanaseing. Half Crazy and Dontchange made him a household name. From there, he continued his success recording with Mary J. Blige on IfULeave and being featured on the Carlos Santana song Nothing at All.
You might also remember seeing Musiq show off his acting skills on TV shows like All of Us and The Game, as well as being featured on McDonald’s and Gap commercials.
It should come as no surprise Patti Labelle makes our list. Patti Labelle has been cranking out the hits ever since she was a member of Labelle. Who can forget the ultra-funky Lady Marmalade? Patti even has the distinction of recording If You Ask Me To for the James Bond movie License to Kill. That’s right; Patti Labelle did it first – BEFORE Celine Dion covered it.
The hits don’t stop there. From funk to ballads, Patti Labelle has it all: If Only You Knew, New Attitude, On My Own, Feels Like Another One, Somebody Loves You Baby, Over The Rainbow, Right Kinda Lover, and more.
Patti Labelle is as much a Philly icon as Ben Franklin and William Penn. It would be a travesty not to have her on our list.
Topping our list is the one, the only Jill Scott. “Jilly from Philly” is known around the world for her fresh take on Neo Soul. From her debut Billboard No. 1 album came no less than 4 hits – let’s call them standards at this point – Gettin’ In the Way, Long Walk, The Way and He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat).
As if that wasn’t enough, Jill Scott turned into a hit-making machine with her follow-up albums Beautifully Human, The Light Of The Sun, The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol. 3, and Golden Moments. And we haven’t even touched collaborations with Anthony Hamilton, Chris Botti, The Isley Brothers and Daley.
Unquestionably, Jill Scott is our No.1 singer to come out of Philadelphia.
What do you think about our list? Let us know in the comments below.
Jill Scott, Patti Labelle, Musiq Soulchild, Vivian Green images courtesy Shutterstock