Thursday, September 21, 2017
Single-Named Celebrities
By Yussuf J. Simmonds (Managing Editor)
Published July 15, 2010


*** Legends ***

“They are famously known only by one name, so their other name might just be a legality”

In the world of celebrities and high-profiled individuals, some have injected themselves thoroughly into the consciousness of society via their work–and play–by just one name that they have become known only by that single moniker.

Aretha L. Franklin

ARETHA (Aretha L. Franklin)

Affectionately and professionally known as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin is a singer, songwriter and pianist, renowned for her soul recordings. She is also adept at jazz, rock, blues, pop, R&B and gospel music. Her most famous and her first No. 1 hit was “Respect” in 1967. Rolling Stone magazine ranked Aretha No. 1 on its list of The Greatest Singers of All Time. She is one of the most honored artists by the Grammy Awards, with 18 competitive Grammys to date, and two honorary Grammys. In 1987, she became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Aretha was the only featured singer at the 2009 presidential inauguration for Barack Obama.

ARSENIO (Arsenio Hall)

An actor, comedian, and former talk show host, Arsenio Hall is best known for his talk show, The Arsenio Hall Show, which ran between 1989 and 1994, and his roles in the films Coming to America and Harlem Nights. The son of Anne and Fred Hall, he performed as a magician when he was a child. He attended Ohio State University, where he was on the speech team before transferring to Kent State University. After moving to Los Angeles, California, to pursue a career in stand-up comedy, Arsenio was the original voice for a cartoon character in The Real Ghostbusters from 1986-1987. He then co-starred in the film Coming to America with Eddie Murphy. In 1984, he was the announcer for a short-lived, late-night talk show before landing his own show.

Beyonce G. Knowles

BEYONCE (Beyonce G. Knowles)

As an R&B recording artist, actress and fashion model, Beyonce Knowles rose to fame in the 1990s as the lead singer of the R&B girl group Destiny’s Child, one of the world’s best-selling girl groups of all time. Beyonce released her debut solo album “Dangerously in Love” in 2003, which spawned the number one hits and became one of the most successful albums of that year, earning her a then record-tying five Grammy Awards. Three years later, she released her second solo album “B’Day” which debuted at number one on the Billboard charts. Her third solo album “I Am… Sasha Fierce,” included the anthemic “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” which earned her six Grammy Awards, breaking the record for most Grammy Awards won by a female artist in one night. Beyonce has won 16 Grammys–13 as a solo artist and three as a member of Destiny’s Child. Her acting career includes the musical film Carmen: A Hip Hopera and the Broadway musical Dreamgirls, for which she earned two Golden Globe nominations.

FANTASIA (Fantasia Monique Barrino)

Known as Fantasia, she is an R&B/soul singer, Broadway and television actress who was the winner of the third season of “American Idol” in 2004. She has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards. She played the part of Celie in the musical “The Color Purple,” and will probably repeat that role in the film version. In 2004, Fantasia released her debut single, “I Believe,” which debuted at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, making her the first recording artist in history to debut at the number one spot with a debut single. She then released her debut album, “Free Yourself,” which became certified Platinum by the RIAA and earned her four Grammy nominations in 2006, the same year, she released her second album, “Fantasia,” featuring the number-one R&B hit “When I See U”; it was certified Gold by the RIAA and received three Grammy nominations in 2008. Her third studio album, “Back to Me”, is scheduled to be released July, 2010.

Kobe B. Bryant

KOBE (Kobe B. Bryant)

Named the NBA Finals MVP in 2009 and 2010, Kobe Bryant is a professional basketball player who plays shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe enjoyed a successful high school basketball career and declared his eligibility for the NBA Draft upon graduation. He was selected with the 13th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets and was then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002 and became the cornerstone of the Lakers franchise. He led the NBA in scoring during the 2005-07 seasons. In 2006, he scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, the second most points scored in a single game in NBA history. In the 2007-08 season, he was awarded the regular season’s Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) and led his team to the 2008 NBA Finals and the Lakers to back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. Bryant also became the all-time leading scorer in Lakers franchise history. With his ability of taking over in the fourth quarter with dominant clutch plays, Kobe earned the nickname, “The Closer.”

LUDACRIS (Christopher B. Bridges)

In an interview on MTV, Ludacris, a rapper and an actor, stated that he adopted his stage name based on his split personality and he had also considered “Ridiculous” and “Ludicrous.”

Along with his manager, Chaka Zulu, he co-founded Disturbing tha Peace, an imprint distributed by Def Jam Recordings. Ludacris has won the Screen Actors Guild, Critic’s Choice, MTV, and Grammy Awards during his career. Of African American and Native American descent, he wrote his first rap song at age nine when moving to Atlanta and joined an amateur rap group three years later. From 1998 to 1999, he studied music management at Georgia State University. He released “Back for the First Time,” a modified re-release of the album, “Incognegro,” that he had made in 1998. That album was produced with the help of producer Sessy Melia, and it was a major success reaching No.4 on the U.S. Billboard 200. Ludacris made his mark on the industry with singles such as “Southern Hospitality” and “What’s Your Fantasy”, along with his first-ever single the “Phat Rabbit.”

Earvin 'Magic' Johnson

MAGIC (Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson)

Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. is a retired professional basketball player who played point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. After winning championships in high school and college, Magic was selected first overall in the 1979 NBA Draft by the Lakers. He won a championship and an NBA Finals MVP Award in his rookie season, and four more with the Lakers during the 1980s. He retired in 1991 after announcing that he had HIV, but returned to play in the 1992 All-Star Game, winning the All-Star MVP Award. After the team protested, Magic retired again, but returned in 1996 playing 32 games before retiring for the third and final time. He was one of the U.S. Olympic basketball team that won the Olympic gold medal in 1992 and was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history in 1996. Since retirement, Magic has delved into numerous businesses providing jobs in urban areas. He opened movie theatres, and business franchises such as Starbucks, TGIFs and 24-hour fitness centers. Magic is also an advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex, philanthropist and a sought-after motivational speaker.

Oprah G. Winfrey

OPRAH (Oprah G. Winfrey)

As a television host, producer and philanthropist, Oprah is best known for her self-titled, award winning talk show, which has become the highest-rated program of its kind in history. She has been ranked the richest African American of the 20th century, the greatest Black philanthropist in American history, and the world’s only Black billionaire. Born into poverty in rural Mississippi to a teenage single mother and raised in an inner-city Milwaukee neighborhood, Oprah experienced considerable hardship during her childhood, before landing a job in radio while still in high school. She began co-anchoring the local evening news at the age of 19 where her emotional ad-lib delivery eventually got her transferred to the daytime talk show arena in Chicago. There Oprah boosted a third-rated local Chicago talk show to first place and launched her own production company which became internationally syndicated and made several movies. In 2007, she became an early supporter of Barack Obama and one analysis estimates she delivered over a million votes in the close 2008 Democratic primary race. Oprah has also opened an all-girls school in South Africa.

PRINCE (Prince Rogers Nelson)

A singer, songwriter, musician and actor, Prince was known under an unpronounceable symbol between 1993 and 2000 and many referred to him as “The Artist formerly Known as Prince” or “The Artist.” One of the most talented and commercially successful pop musicians of the last thirty years, he has produced ten platinum albums and thirty top-40 singles. He founded his own recording studio and label, writing, self-producing and playing most or all of the instruments on his recordings. In addition, Prince has been a talent promoter for the careers of Sheila E, Carmen Electra, The Time and Vanity and has written songs for these artists and many others which have become hits, making him one of the most successful artists in recent music history. Prince has won seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, the first year he was eligible, and has pioneered the “Minneapolis sound”, a hybrid mixture of funk, rock, pop, R&B, and New Wave that has influenced many other musicians.

Quincy D. Jones

QUINCY (Quincy D. Jones)

A music conductor, record producer, musical arranger, film composer, television producer, trumpeter and publisher, he is known both as Quincy and as “Q.” During five decades in the entertainment industry, Quincy has earned 79 Grammy Award nominations, 27 Grammys, and a Grammy Legend Award in 1991. He is best known as the producer of “Thriller,” by Michael Jackson, which sold over 110 million copies worldwide, and of “We Are the World”. In 1968, Quincy was one of the first African-Americans to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song and then for Best Original Score for “In Cold Blood.” In 1971, he was the first African American to be named musical director of the Academy Awards ceremony and he won the Academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1995. He is tied with sound designer Willie D. Burton as the most Oscar-nominated African American, each of them having seven nominations. At the 2008 BET Awards, Quincy was presented with the Humanitarian Award. Quincy and Ray Charles were lifelong friends since they were teenagers and in the 2004-movie, “Ray,” he was played by Larenz Tate.

SADE (Helen Folasade Adu)

Born Helen Folasade Adu in Ibadan, Nigeria, Sade is a singer-songwriter, composer, and record producer who first achieved success in the 1980s as the lead vocalist of the British group, Sade, that also won a Grammy Award. At four years old, she and her brother moved to England to live with their grandparents; at 11, she returned to live with her mother, and after completing school at 18, she moved to London where she attended the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. At college, she joined a soul band, Pride, singing backup vocals. Her single, “Smooth Operator,” won her exposure and in 1983, she signed with Epic Records. Then Sade and her band produced a string of albums; the first, “Diamond Life,” in 1984. She has sold over 50 million albums and is the most successful solo female artist in British history. Sade divorced in 1995 after six years and gave birth to a daughter, Ila Adu, a year later, with a Jamaican musician. In 2002, Sade became a member of the Order of the British Empire and is described as famously reclusive.

SHAQ (Shaquille R. O’Neal)

Shaquille O’Neal is 7 feet, 1 inch tall and weighs 325 pounds and is one of the heaviest professional basketball players in the NBA. During his career, Shaq has skillfully used his size and strength on the court for points and rebounds. Currently the oldest active player in the NBA, he had a standout career at Louisiana State University before being drafted by the Orlando Magic in 1992. As one of the top centers in the league, he won Rookie-of-the-year in 1992-93 and led his team to the 1995 NBA Finals. Shaq was with the Los Angeles Lakers when they won three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002. In 2004, he went to the Miami Heat and won his fourth NBA championship two years later. Then in 2008, Shaq was traded to the Phoenix Suns and after a season-and-a-half there, he went to the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he played during the 2009-10 season. Shaq has released 4 rap albums, his first, “Shaq Diesel,” went platinum and he has also appeared in numerous films and has two reality shows.

William 'Smokey' Robinson

SMOKEY (William ‘Smokey’ Robinson)

Over five decades, William Smokey Robinson has performed for millions, written classic songs, and has been honored countless times. He was recently honored for his excellence in music writing and said, “When you’re honored by your peers like that, it makes it extra special because those are people who are doing the same thing that you do, and they’re trying to accomplish the same thing you’re trying to accomplish. I think it’s ironic that I get awards for doing something that I absolutely love….” He started at Motown Records as a soul singer-songwriter and became a record producer and record executive. At Motown, Smokey was second only to its founder, Berry Gordy. His commercial success and creative contributions to the label have earned him the title, “King of Motown.” As an original member of The Miracles and as a solo artist, Smokey delivered thirty-seven Top 40 hits between 1960 and 1987, and also served as Motown’s vice president from 1961 to 1988. His most recent CD, ‘Time Flies When You’re Having Fun,’ featured all original material, except for a cover of the Norah Jones’ tune, ‘Don’t Know Why’.

Tavis Smiley

TAVIS (Tavis Smiley)

Tavis Smiley is a radio and television talk show host, author, political commentator, entrepreneur, advocate, philanthropist and one of the nation’s most prominent media personalities. His shows brings an exchange of ideas, information, and insight into current events and topics punctuated by his incredible intellect, razor-sharp wit, and charismatic charm. “The Tavis Smiley Show” offers a unique blend of news and newsmakers in expanded conversations with such notables as Spike Lee, Venus Williams, Laurence Fishburne, Chris Rock, Tom Burrell, Nicole Lee, Morgan Freeman and Harry Belafonte. Tavis’ shows also discuss timely topics about national issues, world events and ongoing cultural trends as they relate to African Americans. Tavis has hosted The State of the Black Union town hall meetings focusing on issues within the African-American community. There he would assemble a panel of educators, elected officials and professionals to engage in healthy dialogue. Tavis and Third World Press published The Covenant with Black America about the topics at the town hall meetings. Texas Southern University opened The Tavis Smiley School of Communications in his honor and The Tavis Smiley Center for Professional Media Studies. He is the youngest African American ever to be so honored.

TIGER (Eldrick ‘Tiger’ Woods)

As a professional golfer, Eldrick ‘Tiger’ Woods is ranked among the most successful golfers of all time; in 2008, he was the highest-paid professional athlete. He has won 14 major championships, the second highest of any male player and 71 PGA Tour events. Tiger has more major wins and PGA Tour wins than any other active golfer, is the youngest player to achieve the Grand Slam, and the fastest to win 50 tournaments. He is the second golfer to have achieved a Grand Slam three times while winning 16 World Championships, one in each of the 11 years they have been in existence. His rankings placed him in the number one position for the most consecutive weeks and for the greatest number of weeks. Tiger has been awarded PGA Player of the Year a record ten times and has the record of leading the money list in nine different seasons. Recently, his personal life has been the focus of massive media coverage. In December, 2009, Tiger announced that he would take an indefinite leave from professional golf to focus on his marriage after admitting multiple infidelities. He has since returned to compete for the 2010 Masters.

Usher Raymond IV

USHER (Usher Raymond IV)

Usher Raymond IV is a recording artist and actor who rose to fame in the 1990s after releasing two albums, “My Way” (1997) and “8701” (2001); both has been certified by RIAA 6 times and 4 times platinum respectively and each selling over 8 million copies worldwide. These were followed with “Confessions” (2004), selling over ten million copies in the U.S. and certified diamond by the RIAA. “Confessions” has the highest first week sales for an R&B artist in history with over 20 million copies worldwide, and was named the best selling R&B album of the decade. His 2008 album, “Here I Stand” went platinum, selling over 5 million copies worldwide. Usher has won 5 Grammy Awards, 4 World Music Awards, 4 American Music Awards, 8 Soul Train Music Awards, and 19 Billboard Music Awards. “Confessions” was ranked as the top solo album and second most successful overall album of the last decade. In 2010, his sixth studio album “Raymond v. Raymond,” like two previous ones, debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. Usher has achieved ten No.1 singles worldwide and 15 Top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100.

Whoopi Goldberg

WHOOPI (Whoopi Goldberg)

Whoopi Goldberg is a comedienne, actress, singer-songwriter, political activist, and talk show host. She made her film debut in The Color Purple (1985) playing Celie, a mistreated Black woman in the South, which earned her an Academy Award nomination for best actress, for which she won her first Golden Globe Award. In 1990, she did win an Academy Award and her second Golden Globe Award for best supporting actress, co-starring as a psychic, Oda Mae Brown, in the blockbuster film “Ghost.” Some of her later films include Sister Act and Sister Act 2, The Lion King, Made in America, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Girl, Ghosts of Mississippi and Rat Race. Whoopi has been nominated for 13 Emmy Awards and co-produced the Hollywood Squares from 1998-2004. She is one of the moderators of The View since 2007. Whoopi is the only African American who has won a Grammy, seven Emmys, two Golden Globes, a Tony and an Oscar, and who has hosted the Academy Awards. She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Categories: Legends

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