10 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Jewish Singers Of All Time

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

Some of the most popular and influential artists in the music industry were born into Jewish homes. Jewish singers have graced us with evergreen songs across all genres, singing about everything from important political and social issues to philosophical introspections and love.

Read on to learn more about some of the greatest and most famous Jewish singers who enchanted the globe with their music.

1. Adam Levine

Adam Noah Levine is the lead singer of the pop-rock band Maroon 5. He is a singer, songwriter, and actor born and raised in the US, yet his lineage is Jewish on both sides of the family.

When he was fresh out of high school, he formed a rock band with friends, but their first album was met with poor reviews. The band later broke up yet reformed with new members, forming Maroon 5.

Maroon 5’s first album catapulted the relatively unknown singer to the forefront of American music and entertainment. Since then, the band has released several albums, many of which have become great hits. 

Levine also earned fame for his solo tracks alongside other artists, such as “Heard ‘Em Say” with Kanye West and “Say It Again” with Natasha Bedingfield.

As a member of the American pop-rock band, the singer-songwriter-instrumentalist received three Grammy Awards, eight Billboard Music Awards, and three American Music Awards, to name a few.

2. Pink

Alecia Beth Moore, also known as Pink, rose to fame after signing a record deal with R&B girl group Choice. 

Pink had a gift for singing and composing from an early age. After musician L. A. Reid heard her with Choice, which she joined when she was 16, he advised her to go solo. 

Can’t Take Me Home, her debut solo album became an instant hit. It was also certified platinum in the United States. She soon rose to prominence with hits like “Lady Marmalade,” which earned her a Grammy, and memorable songs like “Just Like A Pill” and “Don’t Let Me Get Me.”

Her second studio album, Missundaztood, sold over 15 million copies worldwide. Pink’s concert tours have also been a huge success, cementing her as an international pop culture artist.

3. Lenny Kravitz

Grammy-awarded vocalist Lenny Kravitz was introduced to music at an early age. His father, who is of Jewish descent, and his mother were very supportive of Kravitz’s passion for music, and he soon learned to play guitar, bass, and drums

He began his career in 1985 under the pseudonym Romeo Blue, working alongside bassist Henry Hirsch, and eventually, with saxophonist Karl Denson.

It was in 1989 that Kravitz explored a solo career, and his debut album met moderate success in the US. His second album, Mama Said, was more successful, earning him a spot on the top 40 of the Billboard charts.

It was not long after that he gained traction in his career, blending elements of rock, soul, R&B, funk, jazz, reggae, and pop into his music. 

As the winner of numerous awards, he even set a record for the most consecutive victories in a single category by a male artist. He has also starred in several films, including “Precious” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

4. Paula Abdul

TV personality and singer Paula Abdul began her career as a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers.

She garnered the attention of the Jacksons not soon after when she developed the choreography for their music videos. Her reputation in the entertainment industry grew from there, and she caught the attention of the pop music industry when she released a series of dance work-out CDs.

She quickly became one of the most in-demand choreographers of the music video era in the 1980s and has made six #1 singles as a female soloist: “Forever Your Girl,” “Cold Hearted,” and Straight Up,” to mention a few.

A new generation of fans fell in love with her on the long-running reality show American Idol, where she served as a judge for seven years.

5. Billy Joel

William Martin Joel, better known by his nickname Billy Joel, is an acclaimed pianist, singer, songwriter, and composer. Joel’s father was a Jewish classical pianist born in Germany.

At the age of four, Joel reluctantly learned the piano because of his parents’ influence, mainly her mother’s. Little did he know that it would become his moniker years later: “The Piano Man.”

His music career started when he was a teenager with the band Echoes, which would later become better known as the Lost Souls. In 1970, he explored a solo career. His debut album was considered a commercial flop, but three years later, he gained success with this album Piano Man.

Since then, his popularity grew and he is regarded as one of the world’s most popular recording artists of all time, selling over 150 million albums. Joel has created his unique sound by combining elements of love ballads, hard rock, jazz, pop, and soul into his music.

6. Bette Midler

Grammy and Golden Globe Award winner Bette Midler is an American singer-songwriter, actress, and entrepreneur. Growing up in Hawaii in a Jewish family, she didn’t have much experience in music. She was, instead, a Drama major.

After college, she landed her first Broadway role and soon gained popularity as a cabaret dancer at New York City’s Continental Baths, a gay men’s hangout.

It was not long after that she was discovered for her musical abilities, and in 1972, she released her debut album, The Divine Miss M, which later on became her nickname. The album was also notably co-produced by the legendary singer Barry Manilow.

Midler’s popularity grew even more after that, releasing hit songs such as “Wind Beneath My Wings,” “The Rose,” and “From A Distance.” Her 24 albums have sold over 30 million copies worldwide, making her one of the best-selling female vocalists of all time.

7. Gene Simmons

Born Chaim Witz in Israel, Gene Simmons is the lead singer and co-founder of the hard rock band Kiss. His parents were Jewish immigrants, and his family later relocated to the United States when he was eight years old. 

His interest in music was ignited after seeing a performance by the Beatles. His mother gave him his first guitar, and he set to work, wanting to become a successful musician someday.

As a teenager, he was a member of the garage band Lynx and subsequently formed his own band, Long Island Sounds. They got as far as creating their first album, but it was unfortunately never published. 

He, later on, co-founded the flamboyant and iconic band Kiss by enlisting Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, and Ace Frehley. In the 1970s, the band rose to fame as one of the most well-known rock bands in history.

8. Bob Dylan

Born Robert Allen Zimmerman, Bob Dylan changed his name during college to better suit his blossoming profession as a folk and country music singer

Dylan is widely considered one of the twentieth century’s most influential singer-songwriters, having spent decades utilizing songs to communicate his thoughts about pressing social issues.

During the 1960s, Dylan was a significant figure in the folk and pop music movements in the United States. He also penned lyrics concerning social, political, and philosophical issues and performed in a variety of genres such as blues, gospel, country, and rock & roll.

His unique musical talents eventually earned him a Nobel Prize in Literature and a special citation by Pulitzer for the profound impact of his lyrical compositions.

Some of his most memorable songs include “Like A Rolling Stone,” “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” and “Tangled Up In Blue.”

9. Barbra Streisand

The “Queen Of The Divas” Barbra Streisand has a long list of accolades and honors to her name as a Jewish actor, singer, director, writer, composer, producer, and author.

She had her start in the 1960s by singing in Broadway theaters and nightclubs. It wasn’t that long after that she was discovered not just for her musical talents but also for her wit and humor. Her earlier performances in theater, in fact, included several comedies.

It was in 1963 that she signed a contract with Columbia Records, marking the beginning of her long musical career. She is regarded as one of the best-selling and most financially successful female musicians of all time, with 71.5 million records sold in the United States alone and 140 million albums sold globally. 

Having received eight Grammy Awards, she is the only artist whose albums have reached #1 for five decades in a row. Some of her best singles include “Woman in Love,” “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” and “People.”

10. Neil Diamond

One of the most successful artists on numerous music charts, with over 18 platinum-certified albums, this list isn’t complete without including the iconic Neil Diamond.

He wrote and recorded his first song, “Hear Them Bells,” for his girlfriend Jaye Posner, who later became his first wife. His songwriting skills were his first passion, and this became one of his greatest assets as a musician.

He has, in fact, written and performed multiple #1 hits, including “America,” “I’m A Believer,” and “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon.”

Diamond has sold well over 100 million records worldwide, as his distinct quasi-gospel baritone voice garnered him fans across many generations. He has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

In addition, Diamond was awarded the Kennedy Center Honors in recognition of his contribution to defining American culture through the arts. 

Wrapping Up Our List Of Great Jewish Singers

Jewish musicians have won some of the most prestigious awards and acclaim for their music worldwide.

From the legends like Bob Dylan and Billy Joel to the amazing performers like Pink, they’ve produced countless Billboard hits and inspired many through their thoughtful lyrics.

Were you surprised by any of the names on this list? Let us know!

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.