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Top 9 singers, bands from Cincinnati


CINCINNATI — While some may not realize it, Cincinnati has been a hotspot for the music industry for decades.

The Queen City is home to King Records, which launched James Brown's career, and throughout the years, a variety of singers, bands and musicians from all genres of music have called Cincinnati their home in one way or another. Here are the Top 9 singers or bands from Cincinnati:

Doris Day

Doris Day

Bob Dear/AP

FILE - In this April 12, 1955 file photo, film actress and singer Doris Day poses with her husband and agent Martin Melcher at their hotel after arriving in London. Day, whose wholesome screen presence stood for a time of innocence in '60s films, has died, her foundation says. She was 97. The Doris Day Animal Foundation confirmed Day died early Monday, May 13, 2019, at her Carmel Valley, California, home. (AP Photo/Bob Dear, File)

Born in Cincinnati in 1922, Doris Day rose to prominence not only as a singer, but also as an actress.

Day first began singing on Cincinnati radio station WLW before she caught the attention of jazz musician Barney Rapp, who helped propel her career. She sang with big bands, including the Les Brown band, where she found success with multiple singles, including "Sentimental Journey," "My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time" and more before she broke into the film industry.

Outside of her music career, Day appeared on the silver screen with roles in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much" with James Stewart, "Pillow Talk" opposite Rock Hudson and "Please Don't Eat the Daisies," which also featured Cary Grant.

The Isley Brothers

The Isley Brothers

Chris Pizzello/Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Ernest Isley, left, and Ronald Isley, of The Isley Brothers, arrive at MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

A 2022 inductee into Cincinnati's Black Music Walk of Fame, The Isley Brothers are known for their blend of doo-wop, gospel, funk and more. The brothers grew up in Lincoln Heights and Blue Ash where they began singing in church.

Eventually the trip left Cincinnati for New York City, and they rose to fame in the '50s and '60s with songs like "Shout," "It's Your Thing" and "Twist and Shout."

The group has continued to make music for decades and recently released an album in September 2022 titled "Make Me Say It Again, Girl."

The National

The National hosts Homecoming Music Festival at Smale Riverfront Park

Jennifer Denham

Cincinnati-bred band the National's inaugural Homecoming Music Festival brought live performances to two outdoor stages at Smale Riverfront Park on April 28, 2018.

After years in their own respective bands throughout the '90s, Matt Berninger, Bryan Devendorf, Scott Devendorf, Aaron Dessner and Bryce Dessner formed The National in 1999. The band now has nine studio albums under its belt and is internationally regarded as a domineering American rock band.

The band's sixth album, "Trouble Will Find Me," was nominated for a Grammy Award, and their seventh album, "Sleep Well Beast," garnered them a Grammy win.

Outside of The National itself, the band's members are widely regarded for their own ventures, with Aaron Dessner being praised for his producing and co-writing with Taylor Swift.

The National are returning to the Queen City in September for their Homecoming Festival, which also features Pavement, Weyes Blood, Patti Smith and more.

Bootsy Collins

Bootsy Collins

Barry Brecheisen/Barry Brecheisen/Invision/AP

FILE - In this Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, file photo, Bootsy Collins performs at the Voodoo Experience in New Orleans. Bass pioneer Bootsy Collins’ “World Wide Funk” features a long list of guests, from Music Soulchild to Eric Gales, all at the service of a collection of funky grooves meant to pack the dance floor.

A staple in funk music and one of the greatest bassists of all time, according to Rolling Stone, Bootsy Collins is a name synomymous with Cincinnati. Collins rose to stardom in the '70s with James Brown before joining Parliament-Funkadelic and playing with them for years. After his days with Parliament-Funkadelic, multiple members from the collective formed Bootsy's Rubber Band.

In 2005, Collins co-wrote "Fear Da Tiger" for the Cincinnati Bengals, and throughout his career he has collaborated with dozens of musicians on various projects. Most recently, Collins served as the narrator for the debut album from Bruno Mars' and Anderson .Paak's Silk Sonic — in fact, Collins is the one that gave the duo's band its name.

The Afghan Whigs

Evolving out of vocalist Jeff Dulli's former band, The Afghan Whigs began playing in late 1986. The band independently released its debut album in 1988 before joining Seattle-based record label Sub Pop, which also was the label for other grunge bands Nirvana, Mudhoney and Soundgarden.

As the band grew they interwove their psychedelic grunge sound with soul music and released their sixth album in 1998 before splitting up in 2001.

The band officially got back together with a string of live performances in 2012, and released their first music in 16 years in 2014. The band's ninth studio album, "How Do You Burn?," was released in 2022.

Nick & Drew Lachey

Nick and Drew Lachey

Greg Allen/Greg Allen/Invision/AP

FILE - In this May 8, 2014 file photo, brothers Nick Lachey, left, and Drew Lachey attend the A+E Networks 2014 Upfront in New York. The Lachey brothers will serve as grand marshals of the annual Oktoberfest Zinzinnati in Cincinnati. Oktoberfest celebrates the city’s German heritage and is expected to draw more than 600,000 people Sept. 19-21. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP, File)

Making up half of '90s boy band 98 Degrees — in fact, all of the members are from somewhere in Ohio — brothers Nick and Drew Lachey have been notable names in Cincinnati for years.

Outside of their music careers, both brothers grew into reality TV stars and have hosted TV shows. The boybanders also ran a bar in Over-the-Rhine for multiple years before it closed in 2018.


Working with big name hip-hop artists, Hi-Tek — born Tony Cottrell — is a rapper and record producer that started in the 1990s.

Also known as Tekzilla, Hi-Tek is best known for his work with Talib Kweli. Otherwise, Hi-Tek has produced tracks for 50 Cent, Anderson .Paak, Common, Snoop Dogg and more. With his own music, Hi-Tek has released three albums on his own and two under the name Reflection Eternal with Kweli.

Hi-Tek was also inducted into Cincinnati's Black Music Walk of Fame, as well.

Walk the Moon

MidPoint Music Festival to move Downtown, feature Walk the Moon

Emily Maxwell | WCPO

Walk the Moon founder Nicholas Petricca grew up in Milford. Here, he plays Bunbury 2013.

Independently releasing their debut album in 2010, Walk the Moon took pop and alternative radio stations by storm in the 2010s.

The band first saw success with their track "Anna Sun" and created a loyal following in the Queen City and region. While growing as a band, Walk the Moon exploded in 2014 with the release of "Shut Up and Dance" ahead of their "Talking is Hard" album. The song catapulted the band into the limelight, climbed Billboard charts and more.

Most recently, Nicholas Petricca, the band's lead singer, announced July 14 that Walk the Moon would be taking an indefinite hiatus from recording and touring — but the band will be releasing new music soon as a parting gift.

Rosemary Clooney

Rosemary Clooney


Rosemary Clooney poses for a portait, March 20, 1958. (AP Photo)

While Rosemary Clooney is technically from Maysville, Kentucky, the singer and actress is loved enough in Cincinnati that she received her own mural on Pleasant Street in Over-the-Rhine, which was unfortunately covered by a development.

Clooney rose to fame in the 1950s with her song "Come On-a My House," alongside other songs "Mambo Italiano," "This Ole House" and "Botch-a-Me." Ahead of her solo career, she sang with her sister, Detty, on Cincinnati radio station WLW.

Outside of her own music, Clooney is most notably know for her role in "White Christmas" along with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen.

Clooney continued to record music throughout her life until she died in 2002.

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