9 Best Known Chicago Singers and Bands Who Made It to the Top

Did You Know These Famous Musicians Are From Chicago?

Where do stars go once they make it big? Wherever they want, of course. But they all start somewhere and for these 9 artists and bands that somewhere is Chicago. The “Windy City” must have helped in one way or another because they surely blew us all away and our appreciation has helped them get all the way to the top of national and international charts. And we are not talking only about recent years when good music is made so available on so many channels. The musical heritage of Chicago is impressive and it has been supplying the world with incredible talent since the 50s.

9 Music Stars Who Started Off in Chicago

1. Kanye West


Image source: https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2115/5710285365_948e035d9b_b.jpg
Photo credit: Jason [email protected]

Image description: Kanye West performing at the Museum of Modern Arts annual benefit in New York, May 10, 2011

Rapper Kanye West was raised in Chicago and started off as a producer for Alicia Keys and Jay-Z under the Roc-A-Fella Records label. His first solo album was The College Dropout, released in 2004. It was received with both enthusiasm as well as critique. With 7 albums in the market at the moment, Kanye West is now one of the best-selling artists of all times. He has 21 Grammy awards, being the most awarded artist of all times, and he was nominated twice by Time among the 100 most influential people in the world.

2. Smashing Pumpkins

Video description: “Tonight, Tonight” video of the Smashing Pumpkins band

Smashing Pumpkins is an alternative rock band formed in 1988. It was their second album, the 1993 Siamese Dream, that set them on the road to success. Out of the 10 albums the band has ever recorded, it was the 1995 Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness double album that secured their place among the most commercially successful bands of the 90s.

3. R. Kelly


Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/61/Rkellytrappedinthecloset2007.jpg
Image description: Artist R. Kelly at the premier of one of the Chapters of the “Trapped in the Closet” 2007 musical comedy-drama

R. Kelly is a singer, a producer and a songwriter who debuted in 1992 with the Public Announcement group. His first solo album was 12 Play, released in 1993. Other 13 albums followed. The artist has numerous Billboard awards, 3 Grammies, 2 American Music Awards, 1 BET Award and 11 Soul Train Awards. All three Grammy awards are for the I Believe I Can Fly song.

4. Muddy Waters


Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/Muddy_Waters.jpg
Image description: Muddy Waters performing at Ontario Place in Toronto, in June 1978

Muddy Waters is the stage name of McKinley Morganfield, also known as the father of modern Chicago blues. He moved to Chicago in 1943 and in 1946 he registered his first record. His influence on the American and the world music scene in blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, folk music, jazz and country music is tremendous.

5. Earth, Wind and Fire


Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4d/Earth_Wind_and_Fire.jpg
Image description: The Earth, Wind and Fire band performing on stage in 1982

Earth, Wind and Fire is an R&B, soul, funk, jazz, disco, pop and rock band founded in Chicago in 1970. With over 100 million records sold, this is one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time. They have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and they are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.

6. Wilco


Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/68/Wilco_MassMoca_AustinNelson.png
Image description: Photo of the Wilco band

Wilco is an American alternative rock band from Chicago. There have ten studio albums, four collaborations and one live double-album. The band won two Grammy awards for the 2004 A Ghost is Born studio album and a Wired Rave Award for the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album of 2002.

7. Fall Out Boy


Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f1/Fall_out_Boy_Monumentour.jpg
Image description: The Fall Out Boy band in concert during their Momentour of 2014

The Fall Out Boy band has been around since 2001 when its members, four boys from Wilmette, Illinois started it. Their first album was Take This to Your Grave, but it was only their second album, From Under the Cork Tree, that brought them their success in 2005. The band has 6 albums and about 27 awards

8. Anastacia


Image source:https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/common/9/93/Anastacia_Resurrection_Tour_(London).jpg
Image description: Anastacia performing at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London in 2015

Anastacia is a Chicago born singer, songwriter and record producer who debuted in 2000s. The eclectic artist knew immediate success from her 2000 Not That Kind and 2001 Freak of Nature albums. She was dubbed “little lady with the big voice” due to her small stature and her mezzo-soprano voice. Anastacia has sold 52 million records worldwide and even her latest Ultimate Collection album released in 2015 was a success.

 9. Styx


Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/78/Styx.JPG/1280px-Styx.JPG
Image description: Styx performing at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota, in 2008

The American Styx band was formed in Chicago in 1972 and produced hit albums in the 70s and 80s. They have released a total of 15 albums with power ballads in which they melted pop rock, hard rock with acoustic guitar and piano.

Chicago is associated with the rise of various kinds of music genres, Illinois being a very prolific state in this respect. It has given us artists who have risen in the Billboard charts in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s and who have led the way in the creation of electric blues, jazz, hip hop, pop and rock.

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Discover Chicago’s finest musicians! Here are 9 of the best known artists and bands who have started out in Chicago and who have made it to the tops of national and international charts.