Singer-songwriter
Overview
Singer-songwriters are musicians who write
Lyricist
A lyricist is a songwriter who specializes in lyrics. A singer who writes the lyrics to songs is a singer-lyricist. This differentiates from a singer-composer, who composes the song's melody.-Collaboration:...

, compose
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

 and sing their own musical material including lyrics
Lyrics
Lyrics are a set of words that make up a song. The writer of lyrics is a lyricist or lyrist. The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of...

 and melodies
Melody
A melody , also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones which is perceived as a single entity...

. As opposed to contemporary popular music singers who write their own songs, the term singer-songwriter describes a distinct form of artistry, closely associated with the folk
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

-acoustic tradition. Singer-songwriters often provide the sole accompaniment
Accompaniment
In music, accompaniment is the art of playing along with an instrumental or vocal soloist or ensemble, often known as the lead, in a supporting manner...

 to an entire composition
Musical composition
Musical composition can refer to an original piece of music, the structure of a musical piece, or the process of creating a new piece of music. People who practice composition are called composers.- Musical compositions :...

 or song, typically using a guitar or piano; both the compositions and the arrangements are written primarily as solo vehicles, with the material angled toward topical issues; sometimes political, sometimes introspective, sensitive, romantic, and confessional.
The concept of a singer-songwriter can actually be traced to ancient bardic
Bardic poetry
Bardic Poetry refers to the writings of poets trained in the Bardic Schools of Ireland and the Gaelic parts of Scotland, as they existed down to about the middle of the 17th century, or, in Scotland, the early 18th century. Most of the texts preserved are in Middle Irish or in early Modern Irish,...

 culture, which has existed in various forms throughout the world.
Encyclopedia
Singer-songwriters are musicians who write
Lyricist
A lyricist is a songwriter who specializes in lyrics. A singer who writes the lyrics to songs is a singer-lyricist. This differentiates from a singer-composer, who composes the song's melody.-Collaboration:...

, compose
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

 and sing their own musical material including lyrics
Lyrics
Lyrics are a set of words that make up a song. The writer of lyrics is a lyricist or lyrist. The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of...

 and melodies
Melody
A melody , also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones which is perceived as a single entity...

. As opposed to contemporary popular music singers who write their own songs, the term singer-songwriter describes a distinct form of artistry, closely associated with the folk
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

-acoustic tradition. Singer-songwriters often provide the sole accompaniment
Accompaniment
In music, accompaniment is the art of playing along with an instrumental or vocal soloist or ensemble, often known as the lead, in a supporting manner...

 to an entire composition
Musical composition
Musical composition can refer to an original piece of music, the structure of a musical piece, or the process of creating a new piece of music. People who practice composition are called composers.- Musical compositions :...

 or song, typically using a guitar or piano; both the compositions and the arrangements are written primarily as solo vehicles, with the material angled toward topical issues; sometimes political, sometimes introspective, sensitive, romantic, and confessional.

History

The concept of a singer-songwriter can actually be traced to ancient bardic
Bardic poetry
Bardic Poetry refers to the writings of poets trained in the Bardic Schools of Ireland and the Gaelic parts of Scotland, as they existed down to about the middle of the 17th century, or, in Scotland, the early 18th century. Most of the texts preserved are in Middle Irish or in early Modern Irish,...

 culture, which has existed in various forms throughout the world. Poems would be performed as chant or song, sometimes accompanied by a harp or other similar instrument. After the invention of printing, songs would be written and performed by ballad sellers. Usually these would be versions of existing tunes and lyrics, which were constantly evolving. This developed into the singer-songwriting traditions of folk culture.

Traveling performers existed throughout Europe. Thus, the folklorist Anatole Le Braz
Anatole Le Braz
Anatole le Braz, the "Bard of Brittany" was a Breton folklore collector and translator. He was highly regarded amongst both European and American scholars, and known for his warmth and charm....

 gives a detailed account of one ballad singer, Yann Ar Minouz, who wrote and performed songs traveling through Brittany in the late nineteenth century and selling printed versions.

In large towns it was possible to make a living performing in public venues, and with the invention of phonographic recording, early singer-songwriters like Théodore Botrel
Théodore Botrel
Jean-Baptiste-Théodore-Marie Botrel was a French singer-songwriter, poet and playwright. He is best known for his popular songs about his native Brittany, of which the most famous is La Paimpolaise. During World War I he became France's official "Bard of the Armies".-Life:Born in Dinan, Botrel was...

 and George M. Cohan
George M. Cohan
George Michael Cohan , known professionally as George M. Cohan, was a major American entertainer, playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer, and producer....

 became celebrities. Radio further added to their public recognition and appeal.

During the period from the 1940s through the 1960s and sparked by the American folk music revival
American folk music revival
The American folk music revival was a phenomenon in the United States that began during the 1940s and peaked in popularity in the mid-1960s. Its roots went earlier, and performers like Josh White, Burl Ives, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Richard Dyer-Bennett, Oscar Brand, Jean Ritchie, John Jacob...

 young performers inspired by traditional folk music and groups like the Almanac Singers
Almanac Singers
The Almanac Singers were a group of folk musicians who, as their name indicates, specialized in topical songs, especially songs connected with the labor movement...

and The Weavers
The Weavers
The Weavers were an American folk music quartet based in the Greenwich Village area of New York City. They sang traditional folk songs from around the world, as well as blues, gospel music, children's songs, labor songs, and American ballads, and selling millions of records at the height of their...

began writing and performing their own original material and creating their own musical arrangements.

North America, United Kingdom and Ireland

The term, "singer-songwriter" in North America can be traced back to singers who developed works in the blues and folk music style. Early to mid-20th century American singer-songwriters include Leadbelly
Leadbelly
Huddie William Ledbetter was an iconic American folk and blues musician, notable for his strong vocals, his virtuosity on the twelve-string guitar, and the songbook of folk standards he introduced....

, Jimmie Rodgers
Jimmie Rodgers (country singer)
James Charles Rodgers , known as Jimmie Rodgers, was an American country singer in the early 20th century known most widely for his rhythmic yodeling...

, Blind Lemon Jefferson
Blind Lemon Jefferson
"Blind" Lemon Jefferson was an American blues singer and guitarist from Texas. He was one of the most popular blues singers of the 1920s, and has been titled "Father of the Texas Blues"....

, T-Bone Walker
T-Bone Walker
Aaron Thibeaux "T-Bone" Walker was a critically acclaimed American blues guitarist, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who was one of the most influential pioneers and innovators of the jump blues and electric blues sound. He is the first musician recorded playing blues with the...

,Blind Willie McTell
Blind Willie McTell
Blind Willie McTell , was an influential Piedmont and ragtime blues singer and guitarist. He played with a fluid, syncopated fingerstyle guitar technique, common among many exponents of Piedmont blues, although, unlike his contemporaries, he used exclusively a twelve-string guitar...

, Lightnin' Hopkins
Lightnin' Hopkins
Sam John Hopkins better known as Lightnin’ Hopkins, was an American country blues singer, songwriter, guitarist and occasional pianist, from Houston, Texas...

, Son House
Son House
Eddie James "Son" House, Jr. was an American blues singer and guitarist. House pioneered an innovative style featuring strong, repetitive rhythms, often played with the aid of slide guitar, and his singing often incorporated elements of southern gospel and spiritual music...

, Robert Johnson, (Johnson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is dedicated to archiving the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers and others who have, in some major way,...

 as an "Early Influence" in their first induction ceremony in 1986, he was ranked fifth in Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

's
list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.) In the 1940s and 50s Woody Guthrie
Woody Guthrie
Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Guthrie is best known as an American singer-songwriter and folk musician, whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children's songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his...

, and Pete Seeger
Pete Seeger
Peter "Pete" Seeger is an American folk singer and was an iconic figure in the mid-twentieth century American folk music revival. A fixture on nationwide radio in the 1940s, he also had a string of hit records during the early 1950s as a member of The Weavers, most notably their recording of Lead...

, along with Lee Hays and other members of The Weavers
The Weavers
The Weavers were an American folk music quartet based in the Greenwich Village area of New York City. They sang traditional folk songs from around the world, as well as blues, gospel music, children's songs, labor songs, and American ballads, and selling millions of records at the height of their...

 performed their mostly topical works (Seeger performed solo and as part of the Weavers) to an ever growing wider audience. These proto-singer-songwriters were less concerned than today's singer-songwriters with the unadulterated originality of their music and lyrics, and would lift parts from other songs and play covers without hesitation. The tradition of writing topical songs (songs regarding specific issues of the day, such as LeadBelly 's "Jim Crow Blues" or Guthrie's "Deportees") was established by this group of musicians. Singers like Seeger and Guthrie would attend rallies for labor unions, and so wrote many songs concerning the life of the working classes, and social protest; as did other folksingers like Josh White
Josh White
Joshua Daniel White , better known as Josh White, was an American singer, guitarist, songwriter, actor, and civil rights activist. He also recorded under the names "Pinewood Tom" and "Tippy Barton" in the 1930s....

, Cisco Houston
Cisco Houston
Gilbert Vandine 'Cisco' Houston was an American folk singer and songwriter who is closely associated with Woody Guthrie due to their extensive history of recording together....

, Malvina Reynolds
Malvina Reynolds
Malvina Reynolds was an American folk/blues singer-songwriter and political activist, best known for her song-writing, particularly the songs "Little Boxes" and "Morningtown Ride".-Early life:...

, Earl Robinson
Earl Robinson
Earl Hawley Robinson was a singer-songwriter and composer from Seattle, Washington. Robinson is probably as well remembered for his left-leaning political views as he is for his music, including the songs "Joe Hill", "Black and White", and the cantata "Ballad for Americans"...

, Ewan MacColl
Ewan MacColl
Ewan MacColl was an English folk singer, songwriter, socialist, actor, poet, playwright, and record producer. He was married to theatre director Joan Littlewood, and later to American folksinger Peggy Seeger. He collaborated with Littlewood in the theatre and with Seeger in folk music...

, John Jacob Niles
John Jacob Niles
John Jacob Niles was an American composer, singer, and collector of traditional ballads. Called the "Dean of American Balladeers", Niles was an important influence on the American folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s, with Joan Baez, Burl Ives, and Peter, Paul and Mary, among others,...

, and Doc Watson
Doc Watson
Arthel Lane "Doc" Watson is an American guitar player, songwriter and singer of bluegrass, folk, country, blues and gospel music. He has won seven Grammy awards as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Watson's flatpicking skills and knowledge of traditional American music are highly regarded...

, while blues singers like Johnson and Hopkins wrote songs about their personal life experiences. This focus on social issues has greatly influenced the singer-songwriter genre. Additionally in the 1930s through the 1950s several jazz and blues singer-songwriters emerged like Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Nicknamed "Lady Day" by her friend and musical partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing...

, Ray Charles
Ray Charles
Ray Charles Robinson , known by his shortened stage name Ray Charles, was an American musician. He was a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 1950s by fusing rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records...

, and Nina Simone
Nina Simone
Eunice Kathleen Waymon , better known by her stage name Nina Simone , was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music...

, as well as in the rock n' roll genre from which emerged influential singer-songwriters Jerry Lee Lewis
Jerry Lee Lewis
Jerry Lee Lewis is an American rock and roll and country music singer-songwriter and pianist. An early pioneer of rock and roll music, Lewis's career faltered after he married his young cousin, and he afterwards made a career extension to country and western music. He is known by the nickname 'The...

, Buddy Holly
Buddy Holly
Charles Hardin Holley , known professionally as Buddy Holly, was an American singer-songwriter and a pioneer of rock and roll...

, Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry
Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as "Maybellene" , "Roll Over Beethoven" , "Rock and Roll Music" and "Johnny B...

, Roy Orbison
Roy Orbison
Roy Kelton Orbison was an American singer-songwriter, well known for his distinctive, powerful voice, complex compositions, and dark emotional ballads. Orbison grew up in Texas and began singing in a rockabilly/country & western band in high school until he was signed by Sun Records in Memphis...

, Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke
Samuel Cook, , better known under the stage name Sam Cooke, was an American gospel, R&B, soul, and pop singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. He is considered to be one of the pioneers and founders of soul music. He is commonly known as the King of Soul for his distinctive vocal abilities and...

, Richie Valens and Paul Anka
Paul Anka
Paul Albert Anka, is a Canadian singer, songwriter, and actor.Anka first became famous as a teen idol in the late 1950s and 1960s with hit songs like "Diana'", "Lonely Boy", and "Put Your Head on My Shoulder"...

. In the country music
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 field singer-songwriters like Hank Williams, Patsy Cline
Patsy Cline
Patsy Cline , born Virginia Patterson Hensley in Gore, Virginia, was an American country music singer who enjoyed pop music crossover success during the era of the Nashville sound in the early 1960s...

, Tammy Wynette
Tammy Wynette
Virginia Wynette Pugh, known professionally as Tammy Wynette , was an American country music singer-songwriter and one of the genre's best-known artists and biggest-selling female vocalists....

, Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn is an American country music singer-songwriter, author and philanthropist. Born in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky to a coal miner father, Lynn married at 13 years old, was a mother soon after, and moved to Washington with her husband, Oliver Lynn. Their marriage was sometimes tumultuous; he...

, George Jones
George Jones
George Glenn Jones is an American country music singer known for his long list of hit records, his distinctive voice and phrasing, and his marriage to Tammy Wynette....

, Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard
Merle Ronald Haggard is an American country music singer, guitarist, fiddler, instrumentalist, and songwriter. Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band The Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound, which is characterized by the unique twang of Fender Telecaster guitars, vocal harmonies,...

, Roger Miller
Roger Miller
Roger Dean Miller was an American singer, songwriter, musician and actor, best known for his honky tonk-influenced novelty songs...

, Billy Edd Wheeler
Billy Edd Wheeler
Billy Edward "Edd" Wheeler is an American songwriter, performer, writer and visual artist. He has written songs performed by over 90 different artists including Judy Collins, Jefferson Airplane, Bobby Darin, The Kingston Trio, Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Kenny Rogers, Hazel Dickens, and Elvis Presley...

, and others emerged from the 1940s through the 1960s, often writing compelling songs about love relationships and other subjects.

The first popular recognition of the singer-songwriter in English-speaking North America and Great Britain occurred in the 1960s and early 1970s when a series of blues, folk and country
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

-influenced musicians rose to prominence and popularity. These singer-songwriters included Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

, Jackie DeShannon
Jackie DeShannon
Jackie DeShannon is an American singer-songwriter with a string of hit song credits from the 1960s onwards. She was one of the first female singer-songwriters of the rock 'n' roll period.- Life and early career :...

, Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash
John R. "Johnny" Cash was an American singer-songwriter, actor, and author, who has been called one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century...

, Kris Kristofferson
Kris Kristofferson
Kristoffer "Kris" Kristofferson is an American musician, actor, and writer. He is known for hits such as "Me and Bobby McGee", "For the Good Times", "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down", and "Help Me Make It Through the Night"...

, Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson
Willie Hugh Nelson is an American country music singer-songwriter, as well as an author, poet, actor, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie , combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger and Stardust , made Nelson one of the most recognized...

, Paul Simon
Paul Simon
Paul Frederic Simon is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist.Simon is best known for his success, beginning in 1965, as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, with musical partner Art Garfunkel. Simon wrote most of the pair's songs, including three that reached number one on the US singles...

, Neil Young
Neil Young
Neil Percival Young, OC, OM is a Canadian singer-songwriter who is widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of his generation...

, Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen
Leonard Norman Cohen, is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet and novelist. Cohen published his first book of poetry in Montreal in 1956 and his first novel in 1963. His work often explores religion, isolation, sexuality and interpersonal relationships...

, Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell, CC is a Canadian musician, singer songwriter, and painter. Mitchell began singing in small nightclubs in her native Saskatchewan and Western Canada and then busking in the streets and dives of Toronto...

, Van Morrison
Van Morrison
Van Morrison, OBE is a Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician. His live performances at their best are regarded as transcendental and inspired; while some of his recordings, such as the studio albums Astral Weeks and Moondance, and the live album It's Too Late to Stop Now, are widely...

, Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix was an American guitarist and singer-songwriter...

, Tom Waits
Tom Waits
Thomas Alan "Tom" Waits is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor. Waits has a distinctive voice, described by critic Daniel Durchholz as sounding "like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car."...

, Otis Redding
Otis Redding
Otis Ray Redding, Jr. was an American soul singer-songwriter, record producer, arranger and talent scout. He is considered one of the major figures in soul and R&B...

, Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye
Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. , better known by his stage name Marvin Gaye, was an American singer-songwriter and musician with a three-octave vocal range....

, Tom Rush
Tom Rush
Tom Rush is an American folk and blues singer, songwriter, musician and recording artist.- Life and career :Rush was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. His father was a teacher at St. Paul's School, in Concord, New Hampshire. Tom began performing in 1961 while studying at Harvard University after...

, Phil Ochs
Phil Ochs
Philip David Ochs was an American protest singer and songwriter who was known for his sharp wit, sardonic humor, earnest humanism, political activism, insightful and alliterative lyrics, and haunting voice...

, Tom Paxton
Tom Paxton
Thomas Richard Paxton is an American folk singer and singer-songwriter who has been writing, performing and recording music for over forty years...

, Arlo Guthrie
Arlo Guthrie
Arlo Davy Guthrie is an American folk singer. Like his father, Woody Guthrie, Arlo often sings songs of protest against social injustice...

, John Denver
John Denver
Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. , known professionally as John Denver, was an American singer/songwriter, activist, and humanitarian. After growing up in numerous locations with his military family, Denver began his music career in folk music groups in the late 1960s. His greatest commercial success...

, Jackson Browne
Jackson Browne
Jackson Browne is an American singer-songwriter and musician who has sold over 17 million albums in the United States alone....

, John Prine
John Prine
John Prine is an American country/folk singer-songwriter. He has been active as a recording artist and live performer since the early 1970s.-Biography:...

, Grace Slick
Grace Slick
Grace Slick is an American singer and songwriter, who was one of the lead singers of the rock groups The Great Society, Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, and Starship, and was a solo artist, for nearly three decades, from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s...

, Dave Mason
Dave Mason
David Thomas "Dave" Mason is an English singer, songwriter, and guitarist from Worcester, who first found fame with the rock band Traffic...

, Jim Croce
Jim Croce
James Joseph "Jim" Croce January 10, 1943 – September 20, 1973 was an American singer-songwriter. Between 1966 and 1973, Croce released five studio albums and 11 singles...

, Roger McGuinn
Roger McGuinn
James Roger McGuinn is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. He is best known for being the lead singer and lead guitarist on many of The Byrds' records...

, Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin
Janis Lyn Joplin was an American singer, songwriter, painter, dancer and music arranger. She rose to prominence in the late 1960s as the lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company and later as a solo artist with her backing groups, The Kozmic Blues Band and The Full Tilt Boogie Band...

, Joan Baez
Joan Baez
Joan Chandos Baez is an American folk singer, songwriter, musician and a prominent activist in the fields of human rights, peace and environmental justice....

, Judy Collins
Judy Collins
Judith Marjorie "Judy" Collins is an American singer and songwriter, known for her eclectic tastes in the material she records ; and for her social activism. She is an alumna of the University of Colorado.-Musical career:Collins was born and raised in Seattle, Washington...

, David Crosby
David Crosby
David Van Cortlandt Crosby is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. In addition to his solo career, he was a founding member of three bands: The Byrds, Crosby, Stills & Nash , and CPR...

, Donovan
Donovan
Donovan Donovan Donovan (born Donovan Philips Leitch (born 10 May 1946) is a Scottish singer-songwriter and guitarist. Emerging from the British folk scene, he developed an eclectic and distinctive style that blended folk, jazz, pop, psychedelia, and world music...

, Stephen Stills
Stephen Stills
Stephen Arthur Stills is an American guitarist and singer/songwriter best known for his work with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash . He has performed on a professional level in several other bands as well as maintaining a solo career at the same time...

, Randy Newman
Randy Newman
Randall Stuart "Randy" Newman is an American singer-songwriter, arranger, composer, and pianist who is known for his mordant pop songs and for film scores....

, Steve Goodman
Steve Goodman
Steve Goodman was an American folk music singer-songwriter from Chicago, Illinois. The writer of "City of New Orleans", made popular by Arlo Guthrie, Goodman won two Grammy Awards.-Personal life:...

, Gordon Lightfoot
Gordon Lightfoot
Gordon Meredith Lightfoot, Jr. is a Canadian singer-songwriter who achieved international success in folk, folk-rock, and country music, and has been credited for helping define the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s...

, Paul Brady
Paul Brady
Paul Joseph Brady is an Irish singer-songwriter, whose work straddles folk and pop. He was interested in a wide variety of music from an early age...

, Johnny Tillotson
Johnny Tillotson
Johnny Tillotson is an American singer and songwriter. He enjoyed his greatest success in the early 1960s, when he scored 9 top-ten hits on the pop, country and adult contemporary billboard charts including "Poetry In Motion" and the self-penned "It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin'"...

, Sylvia Tyson
Sylvia Tyson
Sylvia Tyson, CM , is a musician, performer, singer-songwriter and broadcaster. From 1959 to 1974, she was half of the popular folk duo Ian & Sylvia with Ian Tyson....

, Ian Tyson
Ian Tyson
Ian Tyson CM, AOE is a Canadian singer-songwriter, best known for his song "Four Strong Winds". He was also one half of the duo Ian & Sylvia.-Career:Tyson was born to British immigrants in Victoria in 1933, and grew up in Duncan B.C...

, Nick Drake
Nick Drake
Nicholas Rodney "Nick" Drake was an English singer-songwriter and musician. Though he is best known for his sombre guitar based songs, Drake was also proficient at piano, clarinet and saxophone...

, Tim Hardin
Tim Hardin
James Timothy "Tim" Hardin was an American folk musician and composer. He wrote the Top 40 hits "If I Were a Carpenter", covered by, among others, Joan Baez, Bobby Darin, Johnny Cash, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, and Robert Plant, and "Reason to Believe", covered by many, including Rod Stewart, as well...

, Laura Nyro
Laura Nyro
Laura Nyro was an American songwriter, singer, and pianist. She achieved considerable critical acclaim with her own recordings, particularly the albums Eli and the Thirteenth Confession and New York Tendaberry, and had commercial success with artists such as Barbra Streisand and The 5th...

, Carly Simon
Carly Simon
Carly Elisabeth Simon is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and children's author. She rose to fame in the 1970s with a string of hit records, and has since been the recipient of two Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe Award for her work...

, John Fogerty
John Fogerty
John Cameron Fogerty is an American rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist, best known for his time with the swamp rock/roots rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival and as a #1 solo recording artist. Fogerty has a rare distinction of being named on Rolling Stone magazine's list of 100 Greatest...

, Eric Andersen
Eric Andersen
Eric Andersen is an American singer-songwriter.-Biography:In the early 1960s, Eric Andersen was part of the Greenwich Village folk scene in New York...

, Buffy Sainte-Marie
Buffy Sainte-Marie
Buffy Sainte-Marie, OC is a Canadian Cree singer-songwriter, musician, composer, visual artist, educator, pacifist, and social activist. Throughout her career in all of these areas, her work has focused on issues of Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Her singing and writing repertoire includes...

, Emmylou Harris
Emmylou Harris
Emmylou Harris is an American singer-songwriter and musician. In addition to her work as a solo artist and bandleader, both as an interpreter of other composers' works and as a singer-songwriter, she is a sought-after backing vocalist and duet partner, working with numerous other artists including...

, Cat Stevens
Cat Stevens
Yusuf Islam , commonly known by his former stage name Cat Stevens, is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, educator, philanthropist, and prominent convert to Islam....

, Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Cockburn
Bruce Douglas Cockburn OC is a Canadian folk/rock guitarist and singer-songwriter. His most recent album was released in March 2011. He has written songs in styles ranging from folk to jazz-influenced rock to rock and roll.-Biography:...

, Harry Chapin
Harry Chapin
Harry Forster Chapin was an American singer-songwriter best known in particular for his folk rock songs including "Taxi", "W*O*L*D", and the number-one hit "Cat's in the Cradle". Chapin was also a dedicated humanitarian who fought to end world hunger; he was a key player in the creation of the...

, James Taylor
James Taylor
James Vernon Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, Taylor was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000....

, Jerry Jeff Walker
Jerry Jeff Walker
Jerry Jeff Walker is an American country music singer and songwriter. He is probably most famous for writing the song "Mr. Bojangles.-Biography:...

, Lou Reed
Lou Reed
Lewis Allan "Lou" Reed is an American rock musician, songwriter, and photographer. He is best known as guitarist, vocalist, and principal songwriter of The Velvet Underground, and for his successful solo career, which has spanned several decades...

, Gram Parsons
Gram Parsons
Gram Parsons was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist and pianist. Parsons is best known for his work within the country genre; he also mixed blues, folk, and rock to create what he called "Cosmic American Music"...

, Nick Gravenites
Nick Gravenites
Nicholas George Gravenites , with stage names like Nick "The Greek" Gravenites and Gravy, is a blues, rock and folk singer–songwriter, and is best known for his work with Janis Joplin, Mike Bloomfield and several influential bands and names of the generation springing from the 1960s and 1970s...

, Rick Nelson, Richard Fariña
Richard Fariña
Richard George Fariña was an American writer and folksinger.-Early years and education:Richard Fariña was born in Brooklyn, New York, of Cuban and Irish descent. He grew up in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn and attended Brooklyn Technical High School...

, Tuli Kupferberg
Tuli Kupferberg
Naphtali "Tuli" Kupferberg was an American counterculture poet, author, cartoonist, pacifist anarchist, publisher and co-founder of the band The Fugs.-Biography:...

 Mark Spoelstra
Mark Spoelstra
Mark Warren Spoelstra was an American singer-songwriter and folk and blues guitarist.He was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. He began his musical career in Los Angeles in his teens and migrated around to wind up in New York City in time to take part in the folk music revival of the early...

, Patrick Sky
Patrick Sky
Patrick Sky is a musician, singer and songwriter of Irish and Native American ancestry...

, Mickey Newbury
Mickey Newbury
Mickey Newbury was an American songwriter, a critically acclaimed recording artist, and a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.-Biography:...

, Janis Ian
Janis Ian
Janis Ian is an American songwriter, singer, musician, columnist, and science fiction author. Ian first entered the folk music scene while still a teenager in the mid-sixties; most active musically in that decade and the 1970s, she has continued recording into the 21st century...

, Dan Fogelberg
Dan Fogelberg
Daniel Grayling "Dan" Fogelberg was an American singer-songwriter, composer, and multi-instrumentalist, whose music was inspired by sources as diverse as folk, pop, rock, classical, jazz, and bluegrass music...

, Dave Van Ronk
Dave Van Ronk
Dave Van Ronk was an American folk singer, born in Brooklyn, New York, who settled in Greenwich Village, New York, and was eventually nicknamed the "Mayor of MacDougal Street" ....

, Waylon Jennings
Waylon Jennings
Waylon Arnold Jennings was an American country music singer, songwriter, and musician. Jennings began playing at eight. He began performing at twelve, on KVOW radio. Jennings formed a band The Texas Longhorns. Jennings worked as a D.J on KVOW, KDAV and KLLL...

, Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton
Dolly Rebecca Parton is an American singer-songwriter, author, multi-instrumentalist, actress and philanthropist, best known for her work in country music. Dolly Parton has appeared in movies like 9 to 5, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Steel Magnolias and Straight Talk...

, and Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa
Frank Vincent Zappa was an American composer, singer-songwriter, electric guitarist, record producer and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa wrote rock, jazz, orchestral and musique concrète works. He also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed...

. People who had been primarily songwriters, notably Carole King
Carole King
Carole King is an American singer, songwriter, and pianist. King and her former husband Gerry Goffin wrote more than two dozen chart hits for numerous artists during the 1960s, many of which have become standards. As a singer, King had an album, Tapestry, top the U.S...

, Townes Van Zandt
Townes Van Zandt
John Townes Van Zandt , best known as Townes Van Zandt, was an American Texas Country-folk music singer-songwriter, performer, and poet...

 and Neil Diamond
Neil Diamond
Neil Leslie Diamond is an American singer-songwriter with a career spanning over five decades from the 1960s until the present....

, also began releasing work as performers. In contrast to the storytelling approach of most prior country and folk music, these performers typically wrote songs from a highly personal (often first-person), introspective point of view. The adjectives "confessional" and "sensitive" were often used (sometimes derisively) to describe this early singer-songwriter style.

While the members of rock bands of the era were not technically singer-songwriters as solo acts, many were singer-songwriters who created songs with other band members including Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney
Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE, Hon RAM, FRCM is an English musician, singer-songwriter and composer. Formerly of The Beatles and Wings , McCartney is listed in Guinness World Records as the "most successful musician and composer in popular music history", with 60 gold discs and sales of 100...

, John Lennon
John Lennon
John Winston Lennon, MBE was an English musician and singer-songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music...

, George Harrison
George Harrison
George Harrison, MBE was an English musician, guitarist, singer-songwriter, actor and film producer who achieved international fame as lead guitarist of The Beatles. Often referred to as "the quiet Beatle", Harrison became over time an admirer of Indian mysticism, and introduced it to the other...

, Ringo Starr
Ringo Starr
Richard Starkey, MBE better known by his stage name Ringo Starr, is an English musician and actor who gained worldwide fame as the drummer for The Beatles. When the band formed in 1960, Starr was a member of another Liverpool band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. He became The Beatles' drummer in...

, Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger
Sir Michael Philip "Mick" Jagger is an English musician, singer and songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist and a founding member of The Rolling Stones....

, Keith Richards
Keith Richards
Keith Richards is an English musician, songwriter, and founding member of the Rolling Stones. Rolling Stone magazine said Richards had created "rock's greatest single body of riffs", and placed him as the "10th greatest guitarist of all time." Fourteen songs written by Richards and songwriting...

, Jerry Garcia
Jerry Garcia
Jerome John "Jerry" Garcia was an American musician best known for his lead guitar work, singing and songwriting with the band the Grateful Dead...

 and Bob Weir
Bob Weir
Bob Weir is an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist, most recognized as a founding member of the Grateful Dead. After the Grateful Dead disbanded in 1995, Weir performed with The Other Ones, later known as The Dead, together with other former members of the Grateful Dead...

, Elton John
Elton John
Sir Elton Hercules John, CBE, Hon DMus is an English rock singer-songwriter, composer, pianist and occasional actor...

 (with Bernie Taupin
Bernie Taupin
Bernard John "Bernie" Taupin is an English lyricist, poet, and singer, best known for his long-term collaboration with Elton John, writing the lyrics for the majority of the star's songs, making his lyrics some of the best known in pop-rock's history.In 1967, Taupin answered an advertisement in...

), Phil Collins
Phil Collins
Philip David Charles "Phil" Collins, LVO is an English singer-songwriter, drummer, pianist and actor best known as a drummer and vocalist for British progressive rock group Genesis and as a solo artist....

, Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel
Peter Brian Gabriel is an English singer, musician, and songwriter who rose to fame as the lead vocalist and flautist of the progressive rock group Genesis. After leaving Genesis, Gabriel went on to a successful solo career...

, Peter Frampton
Peter Frampton
Peter Kenneth Frampton is an English musician, singer, producer, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist. He was previously associated with the bands Humble Pie and The Herd. Frampton's international breakthrough album was his live release, Frampton Comes Alive!. The album sold over 6 million copies...

 and later Don Henley
Don Henley
Donald Hugh "Don" Henley is an American singer, songwriter and drummer, best known as a founding member of the Eagles before launching a successful solo career. Henley was the drummer and lead vocalist for the Eagles from 1971–1980, when the band broke up...

, Glenn Frey
Glenn Frey
Glenn Lewis Frey is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and actor, best known as a founding member of the Eagles. Frey formed the Eagles after he met drummer Don Henley in 1970 and the two eventually joined Linda Ronstadt's backup band for her summer tour. The Eagles formed in 1971 and...

 and many others like Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton
Eric Patrick Clapton, CBE, is an English guitarist and singer-songwriter. Clapton is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist, and separately as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream. Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and...

 found success as singer-songwriters in their later careers.

By the mid 1970s and early 1980s the original wave of singer-songwriters had largely been absorbed into a more general pop or soft rock
Soft rock
Soft rock is a style of music which uses the techniques of rock music to compose a softer, more toned-down sound. Soft rock songs generally tend to focus on themes like love, everyday life and relationships. The genre tends to make heavy use of acoustic guitars, pianos, synthesizers and sometimes...

 format, but some new artists in the singer-songwriter tradition (including Billy Joel
Billy Joel
William Martin "Billy" Joel is an American musician and pianist, singer-songwriter, and classical composer. Since releasing his first hit song, "Piano Man", in 1973, Joel has become the sixth best-selling recording artist and the third best-selling solo artist in the United States, according to...

, Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevland Hardaway Morris , better known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and activist...

, Madonna
Madonna (entertainer)
Madonna is an American singer-songwriter, actress and entrepreneur. Born in Bay City, Michigan, she moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance. After performing in the music groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, she released her debut album in 1983...

, Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson
Michael Joseph Jackson was an American recording artist, entertainer, and businessman. Referred to as the King of Pop, or by his initials MJ, Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records...

, Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen , nicknamed "The Boss," is an American singer-songwriter who records and tours with the E Street Band...

, Tom Petty
Tom Petty
Thomas Earl "Tom" Petty is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He is the frontman of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and was a founding member of the late 1980s supergroup Traveling Wilburys and Mudcrutch. He has also performed under the pseudonyms of Charlie T...

, Mark Heard
Mark Heard
John Mark Heard was a record producer, folk-rock singer, and songwriter originally from Macon, Georgia, USA....

, Lucinda Williams
Lucinda Williams
Lucinda Williams is an American rock, folk, blues and country music singer and songwriter. She recorded her first albums in 1978 and 1980 in a traditional country and blues style and received very little attention from radio, the media, or the public. In 1988, she released her self-titled album,...

, Kate and Anna McGarrigle
Kate and Anna McGarrigle
Kate and Anna McGarrigle, were a pair of Canadian singer-songwriters from Quebec, who performed as a duo until Kate McGarrigle's death on January 18, 2010.-Profile:...

, Patti Smith
Patti Smith
Patricia Lee "Patti" Smith is an American singer-songwriter, poet and visual artist, who became a highly influential component of the New York City punk rock movement with her 1975 debut album Horses....

, Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello , born Declan Patrick MacManus, is an English singer-songwriter. He came to prominence as an early participant in London's pub rock scene in the mid-1970s and later became associated with the punk/New Wave genre. Steeped in word play, the vocabulary of Costello's lyrics is broader...

, Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi Lauper
Cynthia Ann Stephanie "Cyndi" Lauper is an American singer, songwriter, actress and LGBT rights activist. She achieved success in the mid-1980s with the release of the album She's So Unusual and became the first female singer to have four top-five singles released from one album...

, Kate Bush
Kate Bush
Kate Bush is an English singer-songwriter, musician and record producer. Her eclectic musical style and idiosyncratic vocal style have made her one of the United Kingdom's most successful solo female performers of the past 30 years.In 1978, at the age of 19, Bush topped the UK Singles Chart...

, Rickie Lee Jones
Rickie Lee Jones
Rickie Lee Jones is an American vocalist, musician, songwriter, and producer. Over the course of a three-decade career, Jones has recorded in various musical styles including rock, R&B, blues, pop, soul, and jazz standards.-Childhood:...

, Stevie Nicks
Stevie Nicks
Stephanie Lynn "Stevie" Nicks is an American singer-songwriter, best known for her work with Fleetwood Mac and an extensive solo career, which collectively have produced over forty Top 50 hits and sold over 140 million albums...

, Cheryl Wheeler
Cheryl Wheeler
Cheryl Wheeler is an American singer-songwriter of contemporary folk music, based in New England. To date, she has recorded several folk albums, and has toured extensively throughout the United States....

, Loudon Wainwright III
Loudon Wainwright III
Loudon Snowden Wainwright III is a Grammy Award-winning American songwriter, folk singer, humorist, and actor. He is the father of musicians Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche, brother of Sloan Wainwright, and the former husband of the late folk singer Kate McGarrigle.To...

, The Roches
The Roches
The Roches are a female vocal group of three songwriting Irish-American sisters from Park Ridge, New Jersey, known for their "unusual" and "rich" harmonies, quirky lyrics, and casually comedic stage performances.The Roches have been active as performers and recording artists since the mid-1970s,...

 and Warren Zevon
Warren Zevon
Warren William Zevon was an American rock singer-songwriter and musician noted for including his sometimes sardonic opinions of life in his musical lyrics, composing songs that were sometimes humorous and often had political or historical themes.Zevon's work has often been praised by well-known...

) continued to emerge, and in other cases rock and even punk rock
Punk rock
Punk rock is a rock music genre that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in garage rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock...

 artists such as Peter Case
Peter Case
Peter Case is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist, who has had a wide-ranging career ranging from new wave music to folk rock to solo acoustic performance.-Early career:...

, Paul Collins
Paul Collins (musician)
Paul Collins is an American writer, author, music producer, and multi-instrumentalist. He is best known for his work in the power pop groups The Nerves, The Breakaways and The Beat.-Biography:...

 and Paul Westerberg
Paul Westerberg
Paul Westerberg is an American musician, best known as the former lead singer, rhythm guitarist, and songwriter of The Replacements, one of the seminal alternative rock bands of the 1980s. He launched a solo career after the dissolution of that band...

 transitioned to careers as solo singer-songwriters.

In the late 1980s, the term was applied to a group of predominantly female U.S. artists, beginning with Suzanne Vega
Suzanne Vega
Suzanne Nadine Vega is an American songwriter and singer known for her eclectic folk-inspired music.Two of Vega's songs reached the top 10 of various international chart listings: "Luka" and "Tom's Diner"...

 whose first album sold unexpectedly well, followed by the likes of Tracy Chapman
Tracy Chapman
Tracy Chapman is an American singer-songwriter, best known for her singles "Fast Car", "Talkin' 'bout a Revolution", "Baby Can I Hold You", "Give Me One Reason" and "Telling Stories". She is a multi-platinum and four-time Grammy Award-winning artist.-Biography:Tracy Chapman was born in Cleveland,...

, Nanci Griffith
Nanci Griffith
Nanci Griffith, is an American singer, guitarist and songwriter from Austin, Texas.-Biography:...

, k.d. lang
K.D. Lang
Kathryn Dawn Lang, OC , known by her stage name k.d. lang, is a Canadian pop and country singer-songwriter and occasional actress...

, Shania Twain
Shania Twain
Shania Twain, OC is a Canadian country pop singer-songwriter. Her album The Woman in Me , brought her fame and her 1997 album Come On Over, became the best-selling album of all time by a female musician in any genre, and the best-selling country album of all time. It has sold over 40 million...

, Sarah McLachlan
Sarah McLachlan
Sarah Ann McLachlan, OC, OBC is a Canadian musician, singer and songwriter. Known for her emotional ballads and mezzo-soprano vocal range, as of 2006, she has sold over 40 million albums worldwide. McLachlan's best-selling album to date is Surfacing, for which she won two Grammy Awards and four...

, Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Suzanne Crow is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, musician, and actress. Her music incorporates elements of rock, folk, hip hop, country and pop...

, Lisa Loeb
Lisa Loeb
Lisa Anne Loeb is an American singer-songwriter and actress. She launched her career in 1994 with the song, "Stay ". She was the first artist to have a number one single in the United States while not signed to a recording contract.Loeb's efforts now include music, film, television, voice-over...

, Joan Osborne
Joan Osborne
Joan Elizabeth Osborne is an American singer-songwriter. She is best known for her song "One of Us". She has toured with Motown sidemen the Funk Brothers and was featured in the documentary film about them, Standing in the Shadows of Motown.-Biography:Originally from Anchorage, Kentucky, a suburb...

, and Tori Amos
Tori Amos
Tori Amos is an American pianist, singer-songwriter and composer. She was at the forefront of a number of female singer-songwriters in the early 1990s and was noteworthy early in her career as one of the few alternative rock performers to use a piano as her primary instrument...

, who found success first in the United Kingdom, then in her home market. In the early 1990s, female artists also began to emerge in new styles, including Courtney Love
Courtney Love
Courtney Michelle Love is an American rock musician. Love is the lead vocalist, lyricist, and rhythm guitarist for alternative rock band Hole, which she formed in 1989, and is an actress who has moved from bit parts in Alex Cox films to significant and acclaimed roles in The People vs...

 and PJ Harvey
PJ Harvey
Polly Jean Harvey is an English musician, singer-songwriter, composer and occasional artist. Primarily known as a vocalist and guitarist, she is also proficient with a wide range of instruments including piano, organ, bass, saxophone, and most recently, the autoharp.Harvey began her career in...

. Later in the mid-1990s, the term was revived again with the success of Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and actress. She made her recording debut with the release of her eponymous studio album in 1990, under the guidance of Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola, whom she later married in 1993...

 and Canada's Alanis Morissette
Alanis Morissette
Alanis Nadine Morissette is a Canadian-American singer-songwriter, guitarist, record producer, and actress. She has won 16 Juno Awards and seven Grammy Awards, was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards and also shortlisted for an Academy Award nomination...

 and her breakthrough album Jagged Little Pill
Jagged Little Pill
Jagged Little Pill is the third studio album by Canadian recording artist and songwriter Alanis Morissette. It was Morissette's first internationally released album, and her first studio album after the three year hiatus following her break with MCA Records. The album marked a shift from her style...

.


Also in the 1980s and 1990s, artists such as Bono
Bono
Paul David Hewson , most commonly known by his stage name Bono , is an Irish singer, musician, and humanitarian best known for being the main vocalist of the Dublin-based rock band U2. Bono was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, and attended Mount Temple Comprehensive School where he met his...

, The Edge
The Edge
David Howell Evans , more widely known by his stage name The Edge , is a musician best known as the guitarist, backing vocalist, and keyboardist of the Irish rock band U2. A member of the group since its inception, he has recorded 12 studio albums with the band and has released one solo record...

, Dave Matthews
Dave Matthews
David John "Dave" Matthews is a South African–born American musician and occasional actor, best known as the lead vocalist, songwriter, and guitarist for the Dave Matthews Band...

, Duncan Sheik
Duncan Sheik
Duncan Scott Sheik is an American singer-songwriter and composer. Sheik initially found success as a singer, most notably for his 1996 debut single "Barely Breathing". He later expanded his work to include compositions for motion pictures and the Broadway stage, leading him to involvement in the...

 and Elliott Smith
Elliott Smith
Steven Paul "Elliott" Smith was an American singer-songwriter and musician. Smith was born in Omaha, Nebraska, raised primarily in Texas, and resided for a significant portion of his life in Portland, Oregon, where he first gained popularity...

 borrowed from the singer-songwriter tradition to create new acoustic-based rock styles. In the 2000s, a quieter style emerged, with largely impressionistic lyrics, from artists such as Norah Jones
Norah Jones
Norah Jones is an American singer-songwriter and occasional actress.In 2002, she launched her solo music career with the release of the commercially successful and critically acclaimed album Come Away With Me, which was certified a diamond album in 2002, selling over 20 million copies...

, Conor Oberst
Conor Oberst
Conor Mullen Oberst is an American singer-songwriter best known for his work in Bright Eyes. He has also played in several other bands, including Desaparecidos, Norman Bailer , Commander Venus, Park Ave., Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, and Monsters of Folk.-Musical career:Oberst began...

, Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens is an American singer-songwriter and musician born in Detroit, Michigan. Stevens first began releasing his music on Asthmatic Kitty, a label co-founded with his stepfather, beginning with the 1999 release, A Sun Came...

, David Bazan
David Bazan
David Bazan is an indie rock singer-songwriter from Seattle, Washington. Bazan was the lead singer and creative force behind the now-defunct band Pedro the Lion and was the lead singer of Headphones, a band he formed out of his interest in synthesizers...

, South San Gabriel
South San Gabriel (band)
South San Gabriel is an alternative country band based in Denton, Texas.The band is named after the San Gabriel river fork north of Austin, Texas. The group consists of the same players from Centro-matic with the inclusion of guests, but focuses on more introspective and subdued offerings from...

, Iron & Wine
Iron & Wine
Samuel Beam , better known by his stage and recording name Iron & Wine, is an American singer-songwriter. He has released four studio albums, several EPs and singles, as well as a few download-only releases, which include a live album...

, David Gray
David Gray (musician)
David Gray is an English singer-songwriter. He released his first studio album in 1993 and received worldwide attention after the release of White Ladder six years later...

, Ray LaMontagne
Ray LaMontagne
Raymond "Ray" Charles Jack LaMontagne is a Grammy-award winning American singer-songwriter. LaMontagne has released four studio albums, Trouble, Till the Sun Turns Black, Gossip in the Grain and God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise. He was born in New Hampshire and was inspired to create music after...

, Meg Hutchinson
Meg Hutchinson
Meg Hutchinson is an American folk singer songwriter known for distinct alto vocals, poetic lyrics, and sophisticated songwriting. Originally from rural western-most Massachusetts, Hutchinson is now based in the Boston area. Influences include poet Mary Oliver, songwriter Shawn Colvin, and mood...

, Steve Millar
Steve Millar
Steven Robert Millar is a singer-songwriter and guitarist,originally from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Millar has been compared to the likes of John Mayer, Jack Johnson , James Morrison , as well as Ben Harper....

, Jolie Holland
Jolie Holland
Jolie Holland is an American singer and performer who combines elements of folk, traditional, country, rock, jazz, and blues...

, Richard Buckner
Richard Buckner
Richard Buckner is an American singer-songwriter born in California. After living in Edmonton, Alberta for a number of years, he currently resides in Brooklyn, NY...

, Jewel
Jewel (singer)
Jewel Kilcher , professionally known as Jewel, is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, actress and poet...

, Jack Savoretti
Jack Savoretti
Jack Savoretti is an Italian English solo acoustic singer who didn’t pick up a guitar until he was 16. He was brought up in London before moving to Lugano, a Swiss town near the Italian border...

, Richard Shindell
Richard Shindell
Richard Shindell is an American folk songwriter. Shindell grew up in Port Washington, New York. He currently lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with his wife, a university professor, and their children....

, and John Gorka
John Gorka
John Gorka is a contemporary American folk musician. In 1991, Rolling Stone magazine called him "the preeminent male singer-songwriter of what has been dubbed the New Folk Movement."-Biography:...

. Some started to branch out in new genres such as Kurt Cobain
Kurt Cobain
Kurt Donald Cobain was an American singer-songwriter, musician and artist, best known as the lead singer and guitarist of the grunge band Nirvana...

, Noel Gallagher
Noel Gallagher
Noel Thomas David Gallagher is an English musician and singer-songwriter, formerly the lead guitarist, backing vocalist and principal songwriter of the English rock band Oasis. He is currently fronting his solo project, Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.Raised in Burnage, Manchester with his...

 and Eddie Vedder
Eddie Vedder
Eddie Vedder is an American musician and singer-songwriter who is best known for being the lead singer and one of three guitarists of the alternative rock band Pearl Jam. He is widely considered a cultural icon of alternative rock.He is also involved in soundtrack work and contributes to albums...

. Others used drugs
Recreational drug use
Recreational drug use is the use of a drug, usually psychoactive, with the intention of creating or enhancing recreational experience. Such use is controversial, however, often being considered to be also drug abuse, and it is often illegal...

 as a mind-altering way to boost creativity; for example, Emil Amos of Holy Sons
Holy Sons (band)
Holy Sons is a one-man solo band built around Portland songwriter and drummer Emil Amos. Amos is notable for releasing "genre-bending" albums, according to LA Weekly music reviewer Chris Martins, and for being a prolific songwriter; one account in Spike Magazine suggests he has written over a...

 took drugs daily from age sixteen on, wrote over 1,000 songs, and landed a record contract with an indie label.

Recording on the professional-grade systems became affordable for individuals in the late 1990s. This created opportunities for people to independently record and sell their music. Such artists are known as "indies" because they release their records on independent, often self-owned record labels, or no label at all. Additionally the Internet has provided a means for indies to get their music heard by a wider audience. During the 2000s Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse
Amy Jade Winehouse was an English singer-songwriter known for her powerful deep contralto vocals and her eclectic mix of musical genres including R&B, soul and jazz. Winehouse's 2003 debut album, Frank, was critically successful in the UK and was nominated for the Mercury Prize...

, Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift
Taylor Alison Swift is an American country pop singer-songwriter, musician and actress.In 2006, she released her debut single "Tim McGraw", then her self-titled debut album, which was subsequently certified multi-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America...

, and Lady Gaga
Lady GaGa
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta , better known by her stage name Lady Gaga, is an American singer and songwriter. Born and raised in New York City, she primarily studied at the Convent of the Sacred Heart and briefly attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts before withdrawing to...

 are amongst the newest generation of singer-songwriters to emerge.

Cantautori, the Italian tradition

Cantautori (Italian plural; the singular is cantautore) is the Italian expression corresponding to singer-songwriters in English. The word is a portmanteau of cantante (singer) and autore (writer).

Even if the first internationally renowned cantautore was Domenico Modugno
Domenico Modugno
Domenico Modugno was an Italian singer, songwriter, actor, and later in life, a member of the Italian Parliament. He is known for his 1958 international hit song "Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu "...

 with his song "Volare
Volare (song)
"Nel blu dipinto di blu" , popularly known as "Volare" , is Domenico Modugno's signature song....

" in 1958, actually the most famous cantautore in Italy is Fabrizio De André
Fabrizio De André
Fabrizio De André was an Italian singer-songwriter.Known for his sympathies towards anarchism, libertarianism, and pacifism, he also was a convicted atheist , and his songs often featured marginalized and rebellious people, prostitutes and knaves, and attacked the Catholic Church...

. His songs are still popular today. In his works he often told stories of marginalized and rebellious people. In Italy he is considered as a poet because of the quality of his lyrics.

Among the other best known are Gino Paoli
Gino Paoli
Gino Paoli is an Italian singer-songwriter. He wrote four masterpieces of Italian popular music: "Il cielo in una stanza", "Che cosa c'è", "Senza fine" and "Sapore di sale".- Biography :...

, Lucio Battisti
Lucio Battisti
Lucio Battisti was an Italian singer-songwriter . He is considered to be one of the best-known and most influential musicians and authors in Italian pop/rock music history....

, Francesco Guccini
Francesco Guccini
Francesco Guccini is an Italian singer-songwriter, considered one of the most important Cantautori. During the five decades of his music career he has recorded 16 studio albums and collections, and 6 live albums. He is also a writer, having published autobiographic and noir novels, and a comics...

, Roberto Vecchioni
Roberto Vecchioni
Roberto Vecchioni is an Italian singer-songwriter and writer.-Biography:Vecchioni was born in Carate Brianza, province of Milan, to a family of Neapolitan origin. In 1968 he graduated in Classical Literature at the Università Cattolica of Milan, where he remained for two years as assistant...

, Lucio Dalla
Lucio Dalla
Lucio Dalla is a popular Italian singer-songwriter and musician. He also plays clarinet and keyboards.He is the composer of Caruso , which has been covered by numerous international artists...

, Francesco De Gregori
Francesco De Gregori
Francesco De Gregori is an Italian singer-songwriter. He is popularly known as "Il Principe Poeta" , a nickname referring to the elegance of his lyrics.-1970s:...

, Franco Battiato
Franco Battiato
Francesco Battiato is an Italian singer-songwriter, composer, filmmaker and, under the pseudonym Süphan Barzani, also a painter. Battiato's songs contain esoteric, philosophical and religious themes...

, Rino Gaetano
Rino Gaetano
Salvatore Antonio "Rino" Gaetano , was an Italian singer-songwriter.-Biography:Rino Gaetano was born in Crotone, in the southern Italian region of Calabria...

, Ivan Graziani
Ivan Graziani
Ivan Graziani was an Italian singer-songwriter and guitarist.-Biography:Graziani was born at Teramo, Abruzzo....

 and Ivano Fossati
Ivano Fossati
Ivano Alberto Fossati is an Italian pop singer-songwriter, guitarist, pianist, and percussionist born in Genoa. Fossati has several albums to date and has worked with such musicians as Fabrizio De André, Riccardo Tesi,Anna Oxa, Mia Martini, Ornella Vanoni, Francesco De Gregori and...

.

Of the younger generation of artists, Samuele Bersani
Samuele Bersani
Samuele Bersani is an Italian singer-songwriter. Between his best known songs, Giudizi Universali and Replay, the latest being the song that won the "Mia Martini" Critics Award at the Sanremo Music Festival....

, Jovanotti
Jovanotti
Lorenzo Cherubini, better known as Jovanotti, is an Italian singer-songwriter and rapper.The name Jovanotti derives from the plural form of the Italian word giovanotto , i.e. giovanotti. Lorenzo Cherubini originally auditioned a band with the name "I Giovanotti", but the record producer only was...

, Carmen Consoli
Carmen Consoli
Carmen Consoli is an Italian singer-songwriter. She has released 7 studio albums and 2 live albums.-Life and biography:Consoli was born in Sicily, near the city of Catania, in the small town of San Giovanni La Punta...

, Daniele Silvestri, Cristina Donà
Cristina Donà
Cristina Donà is an Italian singer and songwriter.She developed a passion for music since she was a teenager, her favorites singers being, among others, Bruce Springsteen, Sinéad O'Connor, Joni Mitchell, Michelle Shocked, Tom Waits, Lucio Battisti, and Beatles .She studied at Accademia di Belle...

, Marco di Noia, Max Gazzè, Luciano Ligabue
Luciano Ligabue
Luciano Ligabue , more commonly known as Ligabue or Liga, is an Italian rock singer-songwriter, film director and writer.-Biography:...

, Vinicio Capossela
Vinicio Capossela
Vinicio Capossela is an Italian singer-songwriter. His style is strongly influenced by US singer and songwriter Tom Waits , though it also draws from the traditions of Italian folk music...

, and Zucchero
Zucchero
Adelmo Fornaciari, Commander , more commonly known by his stage name Zucchero Fornaciari or simply Zucchero /ˈtsukkero/, is an Italian rock singer. His music is largely inspired by gospel, blues and rock music, and alternates between ballads and more rhythmic boogie-like pieces.Zucchero is the...

 have often been tagged as modern cantautori.

The Neapolitan cantautore Pino Daniele
Pino Daniele
Pino Daniele is an Italian vocalist, composer, and musician, whose influences cover a wide number of genres, fusing pop, blues, jazz, Italian and Middle eastern music into his own unique brand of world music.-Studio albums:...

 has often fused genres as diverse as R&B, pop, jazz, rock, fusion, blues and tarantella
Tarantella
The term tarantella groups a number of different southern Italian couple folk dances characterized by a fast upbeat tempo, usually in 6/8 time , accompanied by tambourines. It is among the most recognized of traditional Italian music. The specific dance name varies with every region, for instance...

 to produce a sound uniquely his own, with lyrics variously in Italian (and the dialect Neapolitan), or English. Similarly Paolo Conte
Paolo Conte
Paolo Conte is an Italian singer, pianist, composer, and lawyer notable for his grainy, resonant voice, his colourful and dreamy compositions and his wistful, sometimes melancholic...

 was often tagged as a cantautore, but was more into the jazz tradition.

In the 1980s Vasco Rossi
Vasco Rossi
Vasco Rossi , also known as Vasco or with the nickname Il Blasco, is an Italian singer-songwriter. During his career, he has published 25 albums and has written over 150 songs, as well as lyrics for other artists...

 was renowned for his "rock" music mixed with Italian melodies. He was nicknamed the "only Italian rockstar" (l'unica rockstar italiana).

The word has been borrowed into other languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan
Catalan language
Catalan is a Romance language, the national and only official language of Andorra and a co-official language in the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencian Community, where it is known as Valencian , as well as in the city of Alghero, on the Italian island...

 cantautor, French chantauteur, Romanian
Romanian language
Romanian Romanian Romanian (or Daco-Romanian; obsolete spellings Rumanian, Roumanian; self-designation: română, limba română ("the Romanian language") or românește (lit. "in Romanian") is a Romance language spoken by around 24 to 28 million people, primarily in Romania and Moldova...

 cantautor, and Slovenian
Slovenian language
Slovene or Slovenian is a South Slavic language spoken by approximately 2.5 million speakers worldwide, the majority of whom live in Slovenia. It is the first language of about 1.85 million people and is one of the 23 official and working languages of the European Union...

 kantavtor.

Latin traditions

Beginning in the 1960s and following the Italian cantautori style of the 1950s (like the one of Domenico Modugno), many Latin American countries developed singer-songwriter traditions that adopted elements from various popular styles. The first such tradition was the mid-60s invention of nueva canción
Nueva canción
Nueva canción is a movement and genre within Latin American and Iberian music of folk music, folk-inspired music and socially committed music...

, which took hold in Andean countries like Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

, Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, Argentina and Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

.

At around the same time, the Brazilian popular style bossa nova
Bossa nova
Bossa nova is a style of Brazilian music. Bossa nova acquired a large following in the 1960s, initially consisting of young musicians and college students...

 was evolving into a politically charged singer-songwriter tradition called Tropicalismo
Tropicalismo
Tropicália, also known as Tropicalismo, is a Brazilian art movement that arose in the late 1960s and encompassed theatre, poetry, and music, among other forms. Tropicália was influenced by poesia concreta , a genre of Brazilian avant-garde poetry embodied in the works of Augusto de Campos, Haroldo...

. Two performers, Gilberto Gil
Gilberto Gil
Gilberto Passos Gil Moreira , better known as Gilberto Gil or , is a Brazilian singer, guitarist, and songwriter, known for both his musical innovation and political commitment...

 and Caetano Veloso
Caetano Veloso
Caetano Emanuel Viana Teles Veloso , better known as Caetano Veloso, is a Brazilian composer, singer, guitarist, writer, and political activist. Veloso first became known for his participation in the Brazilian musical movement Tropicalismo which encompassed theatre, poetry and music in the 1960s,...

 became two of the most famous people in all of Brazil through their work in Tropicalismo.

After World War II it was developed in Italy a very prolific singer-songwriter (in Italian cantautore) tradition, initially connected with the French school of the chansonniers, and lately developed very heterogeneously. Although the term cantautore normally implies consistent sociopolitical content in lyrics, noteworthy performers in a more inclusive singer-songwriter categorization are: Domenico Modugno
Domenico Modugno
Domenico Modugno was an Italian singer, songwriter, actor, and later in life, a member of the Italian Parliament. He is known for his 1958 international hit song "Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu "...

, Luigi Tenco
Luigi Tenco
Luigi Tenco was an Italian singer, songwriter and actor.-Biography:Tenco was born in Cassine in 1938, the son of Teresa Zoccola and Giuseppe Tenco. He never knew his father, who died in unclear circumstances...

, Gino Paoli
Gino Paoli
Gino Paoli is an Italian singer-songwriter. He wrote four masterpieces of Italian popular music: "Il cielo in una stanza", "Che cosa c'è", "Senza fine" and "Sapore di sale".- Biography :...

, Sergio Endrigo
Sergio Endrigo
Sergio Endrigo was an Italian singer-songwriter.Born in Pola, Istria, Italy he has been often compared--for style and nature--to authors of the so called "Genoa school" like Gino Paoli, Fabrizio De André, Luigi Tenco, and Bruno Lauzi.He won the Sanremo Music Festival in 1968 with the song...

, Fabrizio De André
Fabrizio De André
Fabrizio De André was an Italian singer-songwriter.Known for his sympathies towards anarchism, libertarianism, and pacifism, he also was a convicted atheist , and his songs often featured marginalized and rebellious people, prostitutes and knaves, and attacked the Catholic Church...

, Francesco De Gregori
Francesco De Gregori
Francesco De Gregori is an Italian singer-songwriter. He is popularly known as "Il Principe Poeta" , a nickname referring to the elegance of his lyrics.-1970s:...

, Antonello Venditti
Antonello Venditti
Antonello Venditti is an Italian singer-songwriter who became famous in the 1970s for the social themes of his songs.-Biography:...

, Roberto Vecchioni
Roberto Vecchioni
Roberto Vecchioni is an Italian singer-songwriter and writer.-Biography:Vecchioni was born in Carate Brianza, province of Milan, to a family of Neapolitan origin. In 1968 he graduated in Classical Literature at the Università Cattolica of Milan, where he remained for two years as assistant...

, Ivano Fossati
Ivano Fossati
Ivano Alberto Fossati is an Italian pop singer-songwriter, guitarist, pianist, and percussionist born in Genoa. Fossati has several albums to date and has worked with such musicians as Fabrizio De André, Riccardo Tesi,Anna Oxa, Mia Martini, Ornella Vanoni, Francesco De Gregori and...

, Lucio Dalla
Lucio Dalla
Lucio Dalla is a popular Italian singer-songwriter and musician. He also plays clarinet and keyboards.He is the composer of Caruso , which has been covered by numerous international artists...

, Francesco Guccini
Francesco Guccini
Francesco Guccini is an Italian singer-songwriter, considered one of the most important Cantautori. During the five decades of his music career he has recorded 16 studio albums and collections, and 6 live albums. He is also a writer, having published autobiographic and noir novels, and a comics...

 and Franco Battiato
Franco Battiato
Francesco Battiato is an Italian singer-songwriter, composer, filmmaker and, under the pseudonym Süphan Barzani, also a painter. Battiato's songs contain esoteric, philosophical and religious themes...

.

In neighbouring Malta, the main singer-songwriters are Walter Micallef
Walter Micallef
Walter Micallef is a leading Maltese singer songwriter, born in the central Maltese town of Birkirkara. He has composed well over a hundred songs, nearly all in Maltese.-Childhood:...

, Manwel Mifsud and Vince Fabri. They all perform in Maltese.

Spain and Portugal have also had singer-songwriter traditions, which are sometimes said to have drawn on Latin elements. Spain is known for the Nova Cançó
Nova Cançó
The Nova Cançó was an artistic movement that promoted Catalan music in Francoist Spain. The movement sought to normalize use of the Catalan language in popular music and denounced the injustices of the Franco regime. Musically, it created a new genre, with roots in the French Nouvelle Chanson...

 tradition — exemplified by Joan Manuel Serrat
Joan Manuel Serrat
Joan Manuel Serrat i Teresa is a Catalan Spanish singer-songwriter.Serrat is considered one of the most important figures of modern, popular music in both the Spanish and Catalan languages...

 and Lluis Llach
Lluís Llach
Lluís Llach i Grande is a Catalan composer and songwriter.Though partially dependent on arrangers, like Manel Camp or Carles Cases in his early works, Llach's songwriting has largely evolved from the more basic early compositions to a vastly more complex harmonic and melodic writing...

; the Portuguese folk/protest singer and songwriter José Afonso helped lead a revival of Portuguese folk culture, including a modernized, more socially-aware form of fado
Fado
Fado is a music genre which can be traced to the 1820s in Portugal, but probably with much earlier origins. Fado historian and scholar, Rui Vieira Nery, states that "the only reliable information on the history of Fado was orally transmitted and goes back to the 1820s and 1830s at best...

 called nova canção. Following Portugal's Carnation Revolution
Carnation Revolution
The Carnation Revolution , also referred to as the 25 de Abril , was a military coup started on 25 April 1974, in Lisbon, Portugal, coupled with an unanticipated and extensive campaign of civil resistance...

 of 1974, nova canção became more politicized and was known as canto livre. Another important Spain singer-songwriters are Joaquín Sabina
Joaquín Sabina
Joaquín Ramón Martínez Sabina , known artistically as Joaquín Sabina, is a singer, songwriter, and poet. He has released fourteen studio albums, two live albums, and three compilation albums...

, José Luis Perales
José Luis Perales
José Luis Perales is a Spanish singer-songwriter and composer who is very popular in Spain and Latin America. He has performed some of his extensive work at Carnegie Hall, New York.-Biography:...

 and Luis Eduardo Aute
Luis Eduardo Aute
Luis Eduardo Aute is a Spanish musician, singer-songwriter, film director, painter and poet.-First years in the Philippines:Luis Eduardo Aute was born in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, on September 13, 1943...

  .

In the latter part of the 1960s and into the 70s, socially and politically aware singer-songwriters like Silvio Rodríguez
Silvio Rodríguez
Silvio Rodríguez Domínguez is a Cuban musician, and a leader of the nueva trova movement.He is considered Cuba's best known folk singer and known for his highly eloquent and symbolic lyrics. Many of his songs have become classics in Latin American music, such as Ojalá, Playa Girón, Unicornio and...

 and Pablo Milanés
Pablo Milanés
Pablo Milanés Arias is a Cuban singer-songwriter and guitar player. He studied at a conservatory in Havana. He is considered one of the founders of the Cuban nueva trova, along with Silvio Rodríguez and Noel Nicola...

 emerged in Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, birthing a genre known as nueva trova
Nueva trova
Nueva trova is a movement in Cuban music that emerged around 1967/68 after the Cuban Revolution of 1959, and the consequent political and social changes....

. Trova as a genre has had broad influence across Latin America. In Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, for example, canción yucateca on the Yucatán Peninsula
Yucatán Peninsula
The Yucatán Peninsula, in southeastern Mexico, separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico, with the northern coastline on the Yucatán Channel...

 and trova serrana in the Sierra Juárez, Oaxaca
Sierra Juárez, Oaxaca
The Sierra Juárez is a range of mountains in Oaxaca state, Mexico between latitudes 17°20'-17°50'N and longitudes 96°15'-97°00'W, with an area of about 1,700 km².It is part of the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca....

 are both regional adaptations of trova. Today, Guatemalan Ricardo Arjona
Ricardo Arjona
Edgar Ricardo Arjona Morales, , known as Ricardo Arjona , is a Guatemalan singer...

 qualifies as Latin America's most commercially successful singer-songwriter. Although sociopolitical engagement is uneven in his oeuvre, some see Arjona's more engaged works as placing him in the tradition of the Italian cantautori.

In the mid-1970s, a singer-songwriter tradition called canto popular emerged in Uruguay
Uruguay
Uruguay ,officially the Oriental Republic of Uruguay,sometimes the Eastern Republic of Uruguay; ) is a country in the southeastern part of South America. It is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom 1.8 million live in the capital Montevideo and its metropolitan area...

.

With the influence of Tropicalismo
Tropicalismo
Tropicália, also known as Tropicalismo, is a Brazilian art movement that arose in the late 1960s and encompassed theatre, poetry, and music, among other forms. Tropicália was influenced by poesia concreta , a genre of Brazilian avant-garde poetry embodied in the works of Augusto de Campos, Haroldo...

, Traditional Samba
Samba
Samba is a Brazilian dance and musical genre originating in Bahia and with its roots in Brazil and Africa via the West African slave trade and African religious traditions. It is recognized around the world as a symbol of Brazil and the Brazilian Carnival...

 and Bossa Nova
Bossa Nova
Bossa Nova may refer to:*Bossa nova, a style of music*Bossa Nova , a dance form associated with the music*Bossa Nova , a 2000 film*Bossa Nova - album by John Pizzarelli...

, MPB (Música Popular Brasileira
Música Popular Brasileira
Música Popular Brasileira or MPB designates a trend in post-Bossa Nova urban popular music. It is not a discrete genre but rather a constellation that combines original songwriting and updated versions of traditional Brazilian urban music styles like samba and samba-canção with contemporary...

), or Brazilian Popular Music, became highly singer-songwriter based. For years solo artists would dominate Brazilian popular music with romantic cynicism alla Jobim or subliminal anti-government messages alla Chico Buarque
Chico Buarque
Francisco Buarque de Hollanda , popularly known as Chico Buarque , is a singer, guitarist, composer, dramatist, writer and poet...

. After the end of the military dictatorship in Brazil, Brazilian music became less politically and socially conscious. The censored Raul Seixas
Raul Seixas
Raul Santos Seixas June 28, 1945 Salvador Northeast Brazil – August 21, 1989),was a Brazilian rock composer, singer, songwriter and producer.He is sometimes called the "Father of Brazilian Rock" and "Maluco Beleza"....

 or the humorous spiritualist Jorge Ben were slowly obscured by funk carioca
Funk carioca
Funk carioca , favela funk and, elsewhere in the world, baile funk, is a type of dance music from Rio de Janeiro, derived from Miami bass....

, axé music
Axé music
Axé is a popular music genre originating in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil approximately in 1986, fusing different Afro-Caribbean genres, such as Marcha, Reggae, and Calypso. It also includes influences of Afro-Brazilian music such as Frevo, Forró and Carixada. The most important creator of this music...

 and Brazilian disco. In recent years, however, a new stock of socially conscious Brazilian singer-songwriters is beginning to break the almost strictly dance-music momentum that has reigned since the 1980s (see the 'Brazilian folk/folk-rock sub-article in Brazilian Music).

Soviet Union and Russia

Since the 1960s, those singers who wrote songs outside the Soviet establishment have been known as "bards". The first songs traditionally referred to as bard songs are thought to be written in late 30s and early 40s, and the very existence of the genre is traditionally originated from the amateur activities of the Soviet intelligentsia, namely mass backpacking movement and the students' song movement of 1950s and 1960s. Many bards performed their songs in small groups of people using a Russian guitar
Russian guitar
The Russian guitar is a seven-string acoustic guitar that arrived in Russia toward the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, most probably as an evolution of the cittern, kobza, and torban...

, rarely if ever would they be accompanied by other musicians or singers. Though, bards using piano or accordion are also known. Those who became popular held modest concerts. The first nationwide-famous bards (starting their career in 1950s) are traditionally referred to as the First Five: Mikhail Ancharov, Alexander Gorodnitsky, Novella Matveyeva, Bulat Okudzhava
Bulat Okudzhava
Bulat Shalvovich Okudzhava was a Soviet and Russian poet, writer, musician, novelist, and singer-songwriter. He was one of the founders of the Russian genre called "author song"...

, Yuri Vizbor. In 1960s they were joined by Victor Berkovsky, Yuliy Kim, Sergey Nikitin, etc.

In the course of 1970s the shift to the classical 6-string guitar took place, now a Russian guitar is a rare bird with the bards. In the same period the movement of KSP (Kluby Samodeyatelnoy Pesni – amateur song fan clubs) emerged, providing the bards with highly educated audience, and up to the end of 1980s being their key promotion engine. Bards were rarely permitted to record their music, partly given the political nature of many songs, partly due to their vague status in the strictly organised state-supported show business establishment of the USSR. As a result, bard tunes usually made their way around as folk lore, from mouth to mouth, or via the copying of amateur recordings (sometimes referred as magnitizdat
Magnitizdat
Magnitizdat is a term used to describe the process of re-copying and self distributing live audio tape recordings in the Soviet Union that were not available commercially...

) made at concerts, particularly those songs that were of political nature. Bard poetry differs from other poetry mainly in the fact that it is sung along with a simple guitar melody as opposed to being spoken. Another difference is that this form of poetry focuses less on style and more on meaning. This means that fewer stylistic devices are used, and the poetry
Poetry
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...

 often takes the form of narrative. What separates bard poetry from other songs is the fact that the music is far less important than the lyrics; chord progression
Chord progression
A chord progression is a series of musical chords, or chord changes that "aims for a definite goal" of establishing a tonality founded on a key, root or tonic chord. In other words, the succession of root relationships...

s are often very simple and tend to repeat from one bard song to another. On the other hand, in the USSR the chief bard supporter was the state Union of Composers, and the main bard hater was the state Union of Writers. A far more obvious difference was the commerce-free nature of the genre: songs were written to be sung and not to be sold. The similar genre dominated by singers-songwriters is known as sung poetry
Sung poetry
Sung poetry is a broad and imprecise music genre widespread in Eastern European countries, such as Poland and the Baltic States, to describe songs consisting of a poem and music written specially for that text. The compositions usually feature a delicate melody and scarce musical background, often...

 in other Post-Soviet countries.

Bulgaria

Singer-songwriters are popular in Bulgaria under the name "bards", or "poets with guitars". Their tradition is a mixture of traditional folk motifs, city folklore from the early 20th century and modern influences. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, the Communist regime in the country started to tolerate the Bulgarian "bards", promoting the so called "political songs", performed usually by one-man bands. A national festival tradition was established, under the title "Alen Mak" (Red Poppy), a symbol with strong Communist meaning in Bulgaria. After the collapse of Communism in 1989 the singer-songwriters' tradition was re-established. Currently the Bulgarian "bards" enjoy several festivals (local and international) per year, namely the PoKi Festival (Poets with Guitars, Poetic Strings) in the town of Harmanli, the Bardfest in Lovech, the Sofia Evenings of Singer-Songwriters and others. Major figures in the Bulgarian tradition are Dimitar Taralezhkov, Mihail Belchev, Assen Maslarski, Grisha Trifonov, Plamen Stavrev, Vladimir Levkov, Margarita Drumeva, Maria Batchvarova, Plamen Sivov, Krasimir Parvanov.

Romania

Despite the communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 isolation, the tradition of singer-songwriter in Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 flourished beginning with the end of the 1960s and it was put in the context of the folk music
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

, with its three main styles in Romania: ethno folk, American-style folk and lyrical (cult) folk. The framework for many of these initiatives came under the form of Cenaclul Flacara, a series of mass cultural events with an inevitable ideological touch. Still, with the merit of supporting great opening initiatives: the appropriation of Western artists like Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

, Joan Baez
Joan Baez
Joan Chandos Baez is an American folk singer, songwriter, musician and a prominent activist in the fields of human rights, peace and environmental justice....

 and others from the Woodstock
Woodstock Festival
Woodstock Music & Art Fair was a music festival, billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music". It was held at Max Yasgur's 600-acre dairy farm in the Catskills near the hamlet of White Lake in the town of Bethel, New York, from August 15 to August 18, 1969...

 generation, the public performance of gospel-like music, the opening to big international issues (pop culture, accountability of the leadership, tension surging during the Cold War-with surprisingly neutral positions etc.).
Overall, the Romanian folk, in general, could be marked as an underground cultural movement, somewhere between non-aligned and protest music.

Netherlands

Ede Staal
Ede Staal
Ede Ulfert Staal was a Dutch singer-songwriter from the Northern province of Groningen who sang mainly in the Groninger dialect of Dutch.-Early life:...

 (Warffum
Warffum
Warffum is a village in the Dutch province of Groningen. It is located in the municipality of Eemsmond. It was a separate municipality until 1990, when it became a part of Hefshuizen, which has been known as Eemsmond since January 1, 1992....

) (1941–1986), was a Dutch singer-songwriter from the Northern province of Groningen
Groningen (province)
Groningen [] is the northeasternmost province of the Netherlands. In the east it borders the German state of Niedersachsen , in the south Drenthe, in the west Friesland and in the north the Wadden Sea...

 who sang mainly in the Groninger dialect of Dutch.

Periodicals that include coverage of singer-songwriters

  • Rolling Stone
    Rolling Stone
    Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

    , focus on music and popular culture
  • Dirty Linen, focus on folk and world music.
  • No Depression
    No Depression (periodical)
    No Depression was a bi-monthly magazine that covered a broad range of roots music, including alternative country and Americana.-History:...

    , focus on alternative country styles.
  • Paste
    Paste (magazine)
    Paste is a monthly music and entertainment digital magazine published in the United States by Wolfgang's Vault. Its tagline is "Signs of Life in Music, Film and Culture."-History:...

    , eclectic music coverage.
  • Pitchfork Media
    Pitchfork Media
    Pitchfork Media, usually known simply as Pitchfork or P4k, is a Chicago-based daily Internet publication established in 1995 that is devoted to music criticism and commentary, music news, and artist interviews. Its focus is on underground and independent music, especially indie rock...

    , focus on independent artists.
  • Sing Out!
    Sing Out!
    Sing Out! is a quarterly journal of folk music and folk songs that has been published since May 1950.-Background:Sing Out! is the primary publication of the tax exempt, not-for-profit, educational corporation of the same name...

     focus on folk styles.
  • Broadside focus on folk music, and folk-rock.
  • Performing Songwriter focus on touring and recording singer-songwriters

See also

  • List of singer-songwriters
  • Cantautori
  • Swedish ballad tradition
    Swedish ballad tradition
    The Swedish ballad tradition had been initiated by Bellman in the late 18th century. In the 19th century, poetic sing-songwriting fell in decline in favour of the academical student choirs, until it was again revived in the 1890s. Poets increasingly continued the tradition of having their poetry...

  • Composer
  • Lyricist
    Lyricist
    A lyricist is a songwriter who specializes in lyrics. A singer who writes the lyrics to songs is a singer-lyricist. This differentiates from a singer-composer, who composes the song's melody.-Collaboration:...


Further reading

  • Alarik, Scott, Deep Community
    Deep Community
    Deep Community: Adventures in the Modern Folk Underground is a book by Boston Globe journalist, Scott Alarik with photographs by Robert Corwin. It was published in 2003 by Black Wolf Press. The book is a compilation of over 120 articles by the author that appeared in either The Boston Globe or...

    , (2003), Black Wolf Press. http://www.here-now.org/shows/2003/05/20030512_17.asp
  • Hoffman, Frank "The Singer-Songwriter Tradition", from Survey of American Popular Music (modified for the web by Robert Birkline)
  • Knopfler, David, The Singer-Songwriter: Defining the Genre – Defining the Style
  • DiMartino, Dave singer-songwriters: Pop Music's Performer-Composers from A to Zevon (1994), Billboard Books(web search required).
  • Rodgers, Jeffrey P., The Complete Singer-Songwriter: A Troubadour's Guide to Writing, Performing, Recording & Business, (2003) Backbeat Books(web search required).
  • singer-songwriters of the Rock Era, (1996), Hal Leonard (sheet music)(web search required).
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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