Famous Artists from New York City
By Latasha Watson
Does New York City create the artist? Or does the artist flock to New York City for inspiration?
That question will continue on till the end of time, but we can conclude one thing today. Many of the world’s most influential artists were born and raised in New York City. But contrary to stereotype, Manhattan wasn’t their playground as kids. It was the outer boroughs that gave birth to these future global stars.
Here’s a list of five of the most famous artists and their connections to New York City, and what in their mind, inspired their success.
The American Woman anthem singer Lenny Kravitz was born in Brooklyn to two creative parents, which explains why Lenny is driven into entertainment. Kravitz’ father was a TV producer while his mother was an actress known for her role as Helen Willis from “The Jeffersons.”
The dream of stardom for Kravitz started at the age of five when he told his parents what he wanted to do with his life. Most children normally switch career goals rapidly or some have no idea at all but Lenny was certain he would become a musician. Growing up in BedStuy, Brooklyn and The Upper East Side with his parents, Lenny was exposed to Jazz, soul and R&B music from Duke Ellington to The Jackson 5.
Later when his family moved to LA after his mother landed the new television gig as Helen, Kravitz attends Beverley Hills High School were he discovered the love of Rock. While on the California Boys Choir (think of glee), Lenny was exposed to Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith etc. From that day on, he taught himself how to play bass guitar and piano and the rest is history.
The Genie with a big voice Christina Aguilera was born in Staten Island ,New York to a military father and a violinist and pianist mother. She too always dreamed to be a singer. When you think of children really living out their dreams to the fullest, Christina was that girl.
She sang in countless competitions and talent shows. She appeared on Star Search, sang The Star Spangled Banner at a Pittsburg hockey game, and joined the cast of the Mickey Mouse Club on the Disney Channel.
With all these accomplishments, you would she received praises from everyone in school, but instead of praises Christina says she experienced jealousy. She said the kids made rude remarks causing Christiana to want to be home schooled. At the end, it did not matter because Christina became one of the best successful artists of our time, leaving all of those who made fun of this powerhouse even sicker with envy now.
The man that lived as a New Yorker, Bob Dylan was born in Minnesota to parents of a close Jewish community. As a teen Bob listened to Blues, country and rock n roll and joined Hibbing High School ‘s Golden Chords. In the choir Dylan perform songs by Little Richard, Elvis and Danny and the junior’s song called “Rock n Roll is here” which caused him some trouble.
They performed the song so loud forcing the principal to cut the microphone off; leading to a rebel star in the making. Later Bob enter college to study music but later dropped out during freshmen year to travel to New York to visit his musical idol Woody Guthrie who was ill.
While visiting New York Dylan decided to start his music career by performing and working with local artists, which later advanced his music ability and street credit towards a career. Dropping out of college definitely was bold, lucky and brilliant choice during his time, because he knew by moving to a place where the music industry is alive was not something his college couldn’t teach him. He knew he could learn more on the streets of New York.
The cool guy who brings Romance to Hip Hop LL Cool J was born in Queens to James and Ondrea Smith. At an early age LL Cool J would sing in a church choir, which later he discover he can rap at the age of 9.
When he was a 11, Cool J started focusing more onto songwriting and learning to DJ to help create his own music. Music was a foundation to escape his problems, mostly among his parents. Throughout his teen years he would perform at local parties to help to get the word out about his artistry.
When he turned 16, LL Cool J met with an NYU student name Rick Rubin. Together they created plans on how to get Cool J’s music to a record label. After Rubin created a beat, Rick sent the finished recording to music manager Russell Simmons. The big break officially happened once Simmons heard the track.
Jenny from the block, also known as Jennifer Lopez was born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents who wanted to keep their family together. Before Jennifer was known to be the mega start we all know today, Lopez Mother was the sweet version of Joe Jackson.
She always believeed in training her daughters to sing and dance so they could stay out of trouble. As Jennifer dance and sing at an early age, she toured around New York singing with her school, and competitions. During high school and college, Jennifer went on casting calls for acting and dancing. When she dropped out of high school to focus more on dancing and singing, her parents thought it was the wrong choice until many impressive auditions landed her a gig as one of the fly girls on the Living Color. The rest is history.