13 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Musicians From Delaware

Written by Dan Farrant
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Famous for more than just being the home of Aubrey Plaza and the 46th President, Delaware has birthed (or developed) quite a few influential musicians over its history and in genres as diverse as shredder guitar rock, classical music, and jazz.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at 13 of the greatest and most famous musicians from Delaware that you may or may not know!

Related: Popular musicians from the USA.

1. Stephen Marley

Son of the reggae superstar Bob Marley, Stephen Marley is a singer, guitarist, and producer who was born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1972.

He began playing with older brother Ziggy as part of Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers when he was seven.

Although born in Delaware, he grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, where his career began as part of the family band the Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers at aged 7.

After producing for a number of years, he released his first solo album, “Mind Control,” which blew away audiences and critics in 2007.

He has continued as a songwriter, performer, and producer, working with legendary reggae outfit Inner Circle, Erykah Badu, and his half-brother Damian.

2. Clifford Brown

Jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown was born in 1930 in Wilmington, Delaware, and in his tragically short life, he developed a technique universally regarded as virtuosic.

He started college as a math major but quickly realized jazz trumpet was his calling going on to play with jazz giants like Lionel Hampton, Max Roach, and Art Blakely.

Brown, pianist Richie Powell, (brother of Bud) and Powell’s wife died in a car accident when Brown was only 25.

Benny Golson’s jazz standard “I Remember Clifford” was written in Brown’s memory.

3. Jimmie Allen

Country singer Jimmie Allen was born in 1986 in Milton, Del., and showed an early interest in country music.

This would eventually pay off when he became the first African-American country artist to score two consecutive number-one hits. 

After failed shots at “America’s Got Talent” and “American Idol,” Allen found his artistic footing and has been feted by the music industry.

He won the New Male Artist of the Year award from the Academy of Country Music and has even worked with Lady Gaga.

4. John Gallagher Jr.

John Gallagher, Jr. is a Broadway star from Wilmington who has played some iconic roles on the Great White Way.

He originated the role of Moritz in “Spring Awakening,” a break-out success, and won a Tony for the role in 2007.

He has since appeared in productions of “American Idiot,” “Jesus of Suburbia,” and “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” and in 2016, he released a solo album, “Six Day Hurricane.”

5. Travis Greene

Next up, we have Travis Greene, who is a gospel singer born in Dover, Delaware, in 1984.

Greene has had a few brushes with death over his life. He was originally classified as a stillborn baby but, thankfully was resuscitated.

A few years later, he fell from the fourth floor of a German building and was pronounced dead before doctors brought him back.

He’s done much with the life he seemingly snatched from the brink— nominated for Grammys five straight years, winning a Billboard Music Award in 2017, and took home nine Stellar Awards that same year.

6. George Thorogood

Born in 1950 in Wilmington, Delaware, George Thorogood initially pursued a career in baseball in his 20s but eventually came to music and made a life of it.

His major-label debut came in 1977 with “George Thorogood and the Destroyers,” followed quickly by “Move it On Over.” 

Both albums were mildly successful, but 1981’s “Bad to the Bone” really broke the band nationwide.

Thorogood continues touring and performing, playing his raucous brand of good-time rock.

7. Chuck Wicks

Born in Smyrna, Del., in 1979, country singer and songwriter Chuck Wicks released his first country single, “Stealing Cinderella,” to wide acclaim.

The song was the biggest country single of 2007 and reached number five on Billboard’s Hot 100.

He has released six solo albums and continues honing his songwriting skills.

He appeared on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” in 2009.

Following grave injuries suffered in a 2017 car accident, Wicks underwent physical therapy and resumed his musical career.

8. Cisco Houston

Folk singer Cisco Houston was born Gilbert Vandine Houston in Wilmington, Delaware in 1918.

He spent his career as a folk singer and songwriter associated with Woody Guthrie and worked with Lead Belly and Pete Seeger.

Interestingly, he claimed to be born in Virginia because he didn’t believe Delaware was a proper state for a folk singer to come from.

In 1948, Houston appeared on Broadway in the musical “The Cradle Will Rock,” a left-wing piece of theater that was controversial but successful nonetheless.

He died of cancer in 1961.

9. Matthew Shipp

Born in Wilmington in 1960, Matthew Shipp was an early devotee of jazz, as his mother had been friends with Clifford Brown.

As a jazz pianist, he has been recording as a bandleader and a sideman since 1987. He is renowned for playing entire concert tours that are entirely improvised.

In 2000, he became the artistic director of Thirsty Ear Records Blue Series and promptly released a solo project that critics loved.

His music has drawn comparisons to John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Sun Ra.

10. Vinnie Moore (UFO)

Born in 1964 in New Castle, Delaware, Vinnie Moore is best known for his guitar shredding style and playing with UFO, a hard rock band from England.

As a kid, he took lessons on the guitar and fell in love with the instrument.

He started writing his own music in his late teens, then began experimenting with four-track recording to create full recordings by himself, playing all the instruments.

Moore has performed with Alice Cooper and Peter Frampton and has released several solo projects.

11. Will Sheridan

Born in Bear, Delaware in 1985, Will Sheridan pursued basketball early, playing four years at Villanova.

Music was never far away, though. As a rapper and hip-hop artist, Sheridan released “G.I.A.N.T.,” his debut studio album, in 2012.

As an LGBTQ activist, Sheridan has made strides for the community by being only the second openly gay NCAA Division I basketball player. A gay rapper is nearly equally rare.

He currently lives, works, and performs in New York.

12. Dorothy Rudd Moore

Born in 1940 in New Castle, Delaware, Dorothy Rudd Moore was a composer writing operas, song cycles, symphonies, and works for various instruments, all of which have been performed worldwide.

She studied at Howard University and with celebrated composition teacher Nadia Boulanger in France.

She also founded the Society of Black Composers in New York in 1968 and has gone on to score wild success as a classical composer.

13. Norman Hutchins

Born in North Carolina in 1962, Rev. Norman Hutchins was a licensed minister in the state of Delaware by age 12.

While he currently leads Frontline Ministries in Dover, Del., he spent the early 1990s toiling away as a gospel singer and recording artist. 

His musical career took off in 1999 with “Nobody But You,” his third album.

While he has received numerous nominations for Grammys and Dove Awards, he has more and more turned his focus from performing and recording to his ministry in Dover.

Summing up Our List Of Musicians From Delaware

The first state has given the world a wide variety of musicians.

Most everyone will recognize at least a few names on this list, but even those who don’t will likely know at least a few tunes or shows these Delawareans have created.

The jazz players alone on this list made huge strides for the musical style, and the rest of the names above have furthered their own musical genres.

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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.