When describing popular music artists, honorific nicknames are used, most often in the media or by fans, to indicate the significance of an artist, and are often religious, familial, or (most frequently) royal and aristocratic titles, used metaphorically. Honorific nicknames were used in classical music in Europe even in the early nineteenth century, with figures such as Mozart being called "The father of modern music" and Bach "The father of modern piano music". They were also particularly prominent in African-American culture in the post-Civil War era, perhaps as a means of conferring status that had been negated by slavery, and as a result entered early jazz and blues music, including figures such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie.
In U.S. culture, despite its republican constitution and ideology, honorific nicknames have been used to describe leading figures in various areas of activity, such as industry, commerce, sports, and the media; father or mother have been used for innovators, and royal titles such as king and queen for dominant figures in a field. In the 1930s and 1940s, as jazz and swing music were gaining popularity, it was the more commercially successful white artists Paul Whiteman and Benny Goodman who became known as "the King of Jazz" and "the King of Swing" respectively, despite there being more highly regarded contemporary African-American artists.
These patterns of naming were transferred to rock and roll when it emerged in the 1950s. There was a series of attempts to find (and a number of claimants to be) the "King of Rock 'n' Roll", a title that became most associated with Elvis Presley. This has been characterized as part of a process of the appropriation of credit for innovation of the then new music by a white establishment. Different honorifics have been taken or given for other leading figures in the genre, such as "the Architect of Rock and Roll", by Little Richard from the 1990s, but this term, like many, is also used for other important figures, in this case including pioneer electric guitarist Les Paul.
Similar honorific nicknames have been given in other genres, including Aretha Franklin, who was literally crowned "Queen of Soul" by disk jockeyPervis Spann on stage in 1968.Michael Jackson and Madonna have been closely associated with the terms "King and Queen of Pop" since the 1980s. Some nicknames have been strongly promulgated and contested by various artists and occasionally disowned or played down by their subjects. Some notable honorific nicknames are in general usage and commonly identified with particular individuals.
American singer Aaliyah is known as the "Princess of R&B".
American singer-songwriter Ronnie James Dio has been called "the Voice of Metal".
Canadian singer Céline Dion is referred to as the "Priestess of Pop".
American rapper and record producer Dr. Dre has been called the "Father of G-Funk".
American singer Bob Dylan has been called the "Crown Prince", "King" or "God" of Folk, "the King of Folk-Rock", "the Jester" and especially for his catalog of protest songs encompassing the Vietnam War, Civil Rights and American politics: "the Voice of a Generation".
^A. R. Frey, Sobriquets and Nicknames (1888, published online by brBiblioBazaar, 2009), p. 115.
^S. S. Walker, "What's in a name: Black awareness keeps the African tradition of 'meaningful names' alive", Ebony, vol. 32 (8), (June 1977), pp. 74–8.
^D. Evans, "From Bumble Bee Slim to Black Boy Shine: Nicknames of Blues Singers" in D. Evans, ed., Ramblin' on my mind: new perspectives on the blues: African American music in global perspective (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2008), pp. 179–222.
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^M. Benoliel and Linda Cashdan, The Upper Hand: Winning Strategies from World-Class Negotiators (Adams Media, 2006), p. 26.
^B. G. Rader, Baseball: a history of America's game (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 3rd edn., 2008), p. 140.
^ abY. Bynoe, Stand and deliver: political activism, leadership, and hip hop culture (Soft Skull Press, 2004), p. 155.
^M. T. Bertrand, Race, rock, and Elvis: Music in American life (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2000), p. 220.
^G. B. Rodman, "A hero to most?; Elvis, myth and the politics of race", Cultural Studies vol. 8 (3), (1994), p. 474.
^J. Warner, On this day in black music history (Hal Leonard Corporation, 2006), p. 56,
^A. Kempton, Boogaloo: the Quintessence of American Popular Music (University of Michigan Press, 2005), p. 58.
^Hawes, Alison (2014), Music and Fashion, Badger Learning, p. 23, ISBN9781781477588, Many of the most successful pop artists of the Eighties were solo singers. Two of them, Michael Jackson and Madonna, were known as the King and Queen of Pop
^R Jones and S. Brown, Michael Jackson, the man behind the mask: an insider's story of the king of pop (Select Books, 2005), p. 49.
^Flick, Larry (March 14, 1998). Reviews and Previews - Singles. Billboard. Vol. 110. p. 22. Retrieved June 14, 2022. Jeep siren Aaliyah's transformation into a pop princess is complete with the release of this Oscar-nominated theme to the film "Anastasia".
^Hodges, Michael (August 25, 2017). "Grapevine: MAC Aaliyah collection coming in 2018". The Detroit News. Retrieved June 15, 2022. Petitions circulated last year demanding that the 'Queen of Urban Pop,' whom Essence magazine says was a loyal MAC customer before her death at 22 on a plane in the Bahamas, get her own line and the cosmetics giant responded.
^Mayo, Nicki (August 25, 2017). "What's your favorite Aaliyah song?". Associated Press. Retrieved June 15, 2022. Aaliyah Haughton will always be remembered as the "Princess of R&B" and "Queen of Urban Pop." She's trending today on social media because it's the anniversary of her death.
^Niester, Alan (September 22, 2000), "Metal queen slips into something jazzy", The Globe and Mail, p. R.6, ISSN0319-0714, Recall that throughout most of the eighties and even into the nineties, Aaron was known as the queen of heavy-metal rock, the loudest, brashest and sexiest female rock belter this side of Janis Joplin.
^Wolfe, Charles K. (2001), Classic Country: Legends of Country Music, Routledge, p. 19, ISBN978-0-415-92827-4, His nickname, 'The King of Country Music,' may sound a bit mawkish and old- fashioned, but, in many ways, it is remarkably accurate.
^"Ashanti Tops Celine". Andrew Dansby. RollingStone.com/. April 10, 2002. Retrieved July 29, 2017. If you thought that the crowning of Ashanti as the "Princess of Hip-Hop and Soul" was something of a premature coronation, you'd be wrong.
^World music: the rough guide. Africa, Europe and the Middle East 1999, p. 330 ed. Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham, Richard Trillo "The late Farid Elattrache and Asmahan – a brother and sister team – are claimed by the Syrians and Lebanese"
^"It probably makes sense to call him – as several people do in the movie [Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll (1987)] – as the 'King of rock 'n' roll'", in D. Denby, "What's in a game", New York, October 19, 1987, p. 102.
^Williams, Phoebe (July 19, 2012). "Teen stars in 2012". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN0307-1235. Archived from the original on January 11, 2022. Retrieved April 19, 2020. Canadian singer remains the king of teen pop, with a devoted fan base
^ ab"The nine-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter – who has earned such sobriquets along the way as 'the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul' and 'the Empress of Soul' – returns Dec. 21 with her ninth studio album, "Stronger" Gail Mitchell (December 12, 2009), "Strength of Character", Billboard, vol. 121, no. 49, p. 17, ISSN0006-2510
^ abcd"Some women have even been given titles. Tina Turner who is The Queen of Rock and Aretha Franklin, dubbed the Queen of Soul. Donna Summer is the Queen of Disco and Mary J. Blige is the Queen of Hip-Hop, Gloria Estefan is the Queen of Latin Pop, Madonna is the Queen of Pop, while Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera are the Princesses of Pop", in L. Bollinger and C. O'Neill, Women in Media Careers: Success Despite the Odds (University Press of America, 2008), p. 147.
^"Universally known as the 'Queen of Hip Hop Soul' because of her frequent collaborations with rap artists and Hip Hop producers" Bynoe, Yvonne (2006), Encyclopedia of rap and hip-hop culture, Greenwood Press, p. 32, ISBN978-0-313-33058-2
^BoA – "Game", MTV, September 3, 2010, retrieved April 18, 2011, The queen of K-Pop made her highly, highly anticipated comeback to Korea for the first time in five years with her 9th studio album, Hurricane Venus
^"Tidal Music". With a successful 23-year career in music, film, and television, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences-Award winning artist, Brandy Norwood, is the epitome of a true artist. Known for her distinctive sound, Brandy is often referred to as the "vocal bible." She creates soul-stirring "feel good" music that inspires the masses
^The reggae debate: still unresolved, October 17, 2008, retrieved October 25, 2008, Others will point to the likes of the 'crown prince of reggae' Dennis Brown, for his contribution to roots reggae and his influence on a generation of reggae artistes
^David Pullman to Securitize 'Godfather of Soul' James Brown, Business Wire, May 3, 1999, p. 1, And today, James Brown's status as 'The Godfather of Soul" remains undiminished'.
^"James Brown Crowned 'King Of Soul' At The Apollo Theater", Jet, vol. 43, no. 3, p. 59, October 12, 1972, ISSN0021-5996, To Mark the ten years, officials at the Apollo crowned Brown 'King of Soul'.
^Pareles, Jon (December 25, 2006). "James Brown, the 'Godfather of Soul', Dies at 73". The New York Times. Retrieved August 3, 2017. He also went by "Mr. Dynamite," "Soul Brother No. 1," "the Minister of Super Heavy Funk" and "the Godfather of Soul," and he was all of those and more.
^"Years before Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, and Etta James, Ruth reigned as the original queen of r&b. She achieved a distinctive sassy and streetwise style, which made her one of the most popular singers of her era. Her career has been so influential that Atlantic Records is sometimes referred too as 'the house that Ruth built' and for good reason", at Cotton, Nzgina (April 7, 2008), "Ruth Brown: The Original Queen of r&b", New Nation, p. 22, ISSN1365-7496
^Jones, Steve (November 20, 2006), "R&B diva for the ages", USA TODAY, p. D.1, ISSN0734-7456, Years before Aretha Franklin was crowned Queen of Soul, Ruth Brown reigned as the original Queen of R&B
^"Burke, long ago dubbed the King of Rock 'n' Soul, was worth the wait", in M. Newman, "Soul man Solomon Burke: Live on Film; Capricorn's Smoking New Companion" in Billboard July 8, 1995, Vol. 107 (27), p. 10.
^ abc"Did You Know: The King of Rock 'n' Soul". July 6, 2018. With his background in gospel, jazz, country, and blues, Burke helped shaped the sound of soul music, developing his unique style that earned him the nicknames "King Solomon," The King of Rock 'n' Soul", "Bishop of Soul", and the "Muhammad Ali of soul".
^Reynolds, Simon (August 22, 2014). "Kate Bush, the queen of art-pop who defied her critics". The Guardian. Retrieved September 13, 2018. The singer's much-anticipated series of concerts are a sell-out, her return to the stage heralded by critics everywhere. Yet her particular brand of carefully crafted fantasy was not always so widely acclaimed
^Chávez Candelaria, Cordelia; Aldama, Arturo J.; García, Peter J.; Alvarez-Smith, Alma, eds. (2004). Encyclopedia of Latino popular culture. Westport, CT [etc.]: Greenwood Press. p. 822. ISBN978-0-313-33211-1. Born August 19, 1954, in Kingsville, Texas, she is recognized as 'la reina de la onda Tejana' (the queen of Tejano music).
^"Mariah Carey's Christmas Concert In NYC". Idolator. SpinMedia Publishers. December 16, 2014. Retrieved December 21, 2014. Queen Of Christmas, Mariah Carey performs her holiday smash hits at the Beacon Theatre on December 15, 2014 in New York City.
^"Profile: Roberto Carlos". AllMusic. Retrieved July 11, 2011. the mid-'90s witnessed a resurgence of Jovem Guarda talents through tributes of new rockers and Carlos reached the 21st century uncontestedly enjoying his absolute title: the King.
^"Roberto Carlos: King Of Music In Brazil". Latin Music About.com. Retrieved July 11, 2011. 1965 was Carlos' year. In a popular vote promoted by the TV show Reino de Jeventude, Carlos was elected "O Rei" – the King of Brazilian music and has retained the title ever since.
^"Fado: the Sound of Lisbon". LisbonLux.com. Retrieved August 5, 2015. If Amália was the queen of Fado, you can call Carlos do Carmo the king. His is the most successful male voice in Fado, releasing albums since the 1960s. Although his Fado is classic, some also find a jazzy sound and Frank Sinatra style in many of his songs.
^She doesn't need to turn back time: After a successful 45-year career, the Goddess of Pop is still going strong. She plays a veteran performer alongside Christina Aguilera in her new flick, "Burlesque", hitting theaters on Wednesday. And she continues to sing in Las Vegas. Amanda Sidman (November 21, 2010), "Cher", Daily News, New York, p. 5
^Lee, Vinny (September 2, 2006), "Turning back time", The Times, p. 73, ISSN0140-0460, Cher – singer, Oscar-winning actress and campaigner -is the original queen of reinvention, an expert at re-creating herself.
^Bowing out, if not exactly gracefully, Cher, that surgically enhanced queen of reinvention, last week brought her farewell tour to Glasgow. Sweet, Lucy (May 16, 2004), "Cher's so long farewell", The Sunday Times, p. 11
^ ab"What happens when the 'God of Song' descends on Genting Highlands during a cold and wet weekend? He warms and melts the hearts of both young and old with his charm and huge repertoire of hits, that's what! And that was precisely what Hong Kong superstar Jacky Cheung – arguably the most popular and enduring of the four Heavenly Kings – did at his two sold-out concerts last Friday and Saturday at the Arena of Stars. (For the uninitiated, Cheung, Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok and Leon Lai are the four "Heavenly Kings" of Chinese pop, the over-the-top title probably bestowed by the imaginative Hong Kong media because of the singers' immense popularity. Cheung, of course, has been elevated even higher on the celestial plane!)" Ming, Fong (November 9, 2002). "Jacky, oh!". New Straits Times. p. 3.
^"Thousands of fans pay tribute to Leslie Cheung". China Daily. April 1, 2004. Retrieved May 20, 2017. 'We want Gor Gor' (Cantonese for 'big brother', Cheung's nickname) to know that he has not been forgotten and never will be," a spokeswoman said.
^Song, Berwin (August 9, 2008), "5 Chinese Acts Using The Games To Boost Their Profile", Billboard, vol. 120, no. 32, p. 28, ISSN0006-2510, Dubbed the 'king of Chinese pop' by local media, Jay Chou has released eight studio albums, spawning several hits,
^Shepherd, Julianne (January 16, 2007). "Ciara: The Evolution". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved May 8, 2013. In 2004, upon the release of Ciara Harris's excellent debut Goodies, Lil Jon christened the 21-year-old Atlanta starlet the 'Princess of crunk & B.'
^Grossman, Samantha (July 23, 2015). "15 Times Kelly Clarkson Totally Nailed a Cover Song". Time. Retrieved July 14, 2016. American Idol alum Kelly Clarkson is the undisputed Queen of Covers. She consistently borrows other artists' songs and puts her signature spin on them, often producing something even better than the original.
^DeCurtis, Anthony; Henke, James (1992). The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll: The Definitive History of the Most Important Artists and their Music. George-Warren, Holly. Random House. p. 135. ISBN0-679-73728-6.