22 Musicians Every Kid Needs to Rock Out to at Least Once (VIDEO)

Music loverI gasped earlier this evening when I got a text from my best friend, asking me if I’d heard that rapper Heavy D. had passed away. There are very few — and I do mean very few — rappers who managed to wrangle up cross-generational appeal in my family when I was a kid. Heavy D. was one of them.

My grandparents liked to watch him dance. My mom liked the beats that his DJ used. And my cousins and I just loved the fact that, aside from being a dope rapper, we could enjoy his songs minus their moans and groans because he seemed like such a nice guy.

There’s music, that catchy yet disposable stuff we sing along with when it comes on the radio in the car, and then there’s music. That’s the kind of material that will take you back to a specific time and place whenever someone plays it 10, 15, 20 years from now. And there are classic artists kids should know, even if they’ve been dead and gone for decades. 


Much to her chagrin, most of the time anyway, Teen Girl has been getting a healthy dose of them for as long as she can remember. I may be power-to-the-people, but I do have pretty broad musical tastes, with everything from Green Day to Mongo Santamaria to Jay-Z in regular rotation. I’m happy to report, though, that Michael Jackson and Bob Marley are both in heavy rotation on my child’s own iPod.

These folks are not the only timeless musicians by any stretch of the imagination. But in a crunch, if kids could only absorb (or stand to hear about), say, 50 artists, these 22 are a good place to start. In my humble music lover’s opinion, anyway.
Janis Joplin


Muddy Waters

James Brown

Fela Kuti


Aretha Franklin

Patsy Cline


Bob Dylan

Celia Cruz

The Rolling Stones

John Coltrane

David Bowie

Ray Charles

Bonnie Raitt

The Beatles

Bob Marley

Simon and Garfunkel

Elton John

Billie Holiday

Stevie Wonder

Michael Jackson

Who are the classic artists on your must-know list?

Image via Dj Crazy Gabe/Flickr

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