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Honorific nicknames in popular music

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Title: Honorific nicknames in popular music  
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Subject: Madonna (entertainer), Michael Jackson, Pop music, Elvis Presley, Janet Jackson
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Honorific nicknames in popular music

By the 1920s, American bandleader Paul Whiteman was often referred to as the "King of Jazz" in press releases

Honorific nicknames in popular music are often religious, familial, or (most frequently) royal and aristocratic in nature and are used as a form of expression in the media, or to identify the significance of an artist by fans. Honorific nicknames were used in classical music in Europe as early as the early nineteenth century, with figures like Mozart being called "The father of modern music" and Bach "The father of modern piano music".[1] They were also particularly prominent in African American culture in the post-Civil War era, perhaps as a means of conferring status that had been negated by slavery,[2] and as a result entered early jazz and blues music, including figures such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie.[3]

In American culture, despite its republican constitution and ideology,[4] honorific nicknames have been used to describe leading figures in various areas of activity, such as industry, commerce, sport and the media; father or mother have been used for innovators, and royal titles like king and queen for dominant figures in a field.[5][6] In the 1930s and 1940s, as jazz and swing music were gaining popularity, it was the more commercially successful white artists Paul Whiteman and Benny Goodman who became known as "The King of Jazz" and "The King of Swing" respectively, despite such genres of music originating from African American culture.[7] These patterns of naming were transferred to rock and roll when it emerged in the 1950s. There was a series of attempts to find (and a number of claimants to be) the "King of Rock 'n' Roll", a title that became most associated with Elvis Presley.[8] This has been seen as part of a process of the appropriation of credit for innovation of the then new music by a white establishment.[9] Different honorifics have been taken or given for other leading figures in the genre, such as "The Architect of Rock and Roll", by Little Richard from the 1990s,[10] but this term, like many, is also used for other important figures, in this case including pioneer electric guitarist Les Paul.[11]

Similar honorific nicknames have been given in other genres, including Aretha Franklin, who was literally crowned "Queen of Soul" by disk jockey Pervis Spann on stage in 1968.[12] Other nicknames have been adopted in direct emulation of these, including Michael Jackson's title "King of Pop" from 1989.[13][14] Honorific nicknames are often part of a process of marketing and may be adopted or dropped by the press and fans over time.[15] They have been strongly promulgated and contested by various artists[16] and occasionally disowned or played down by their subjects.[17] Some notable honorific nicknames are in general usage and commonly identified with particular individuals.

Individual titles

American musician James Brown was known as the "Godfather of Soul", "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business","Mr Dynamite", and "Soul Brother number one".
American singer Ruth Brown has been referred to as the "Queen of R&B"
Hong Kong singer Jacky Cheung has been deemed the "God of Songs"
Cuban singer Celia Cruz has been called the "Queen of Salsa"
American singer Ella Fitzgerald is known as the "First Lady of Song"
American singer Aretha Franklin has been identified as the "Queen of Soul"
American clarinetist Benny Goodman is known as the "King of Swing".
Due to her vocal ability, Whitney Houston has been often referred as "The Voice".
American singer Janet Jackson has been referred as the "Queen of Pop"
American singer Mahalia Jackson is known as the "Queen of Gospel"
American singer Michael Jackson is most often identified as the "King of Pop".
American musician B.B. King is known as the "King of the Blues"
A road named in honour of "The Godfather of House" Frankie Knuckles in the American city of Chicago.
American singer Kenny Loggins is known as the "King of the Movie Soundtrack" for his contribution to movies.
British singer Vera Lynn is widely acknowledged as the "Forces Sweetheart" for her services during the Second World War
Liza Minnelli has established herself as "The Queen of Broadway".
Philippine entertainer Sarah Geronimo, widely known as the "Asia's Popstar"
Philippine singer Regine Velasquez has established herself as the "Asia's Songbird"
Malaysian singer Siti Nurhaliza is known as "Voice of Asia" and "Asia's Celine Dion"
Ozzy Osbourne has been identified as the "Godfather of Heavy Metal" and the "Prince of Darkness"
Italian singer Luciano Pavarotti has been identified as the "King of the High C's"
Puerto Rican singer Ivy Queen is widely known as the "Queen of Reggaeton"
American singer Donna Summer has been referred to as the "Queen of Disco"
American entertainer Britney Spears, widely known as the "Princess of Pop"
The nickname "The Boss" has been synonymous with Bruce Springsteen.
English musician Pete Townshend has been referred to as the "Godfather of Punk"
Japanese singer Hikaru Utada has been identified as the "The Diva of the Heisei period".
Canadian musician Neil Young is known as the "Godfather of Grunge"


Artist Title Country Source
Aaliyah Princess of R&B United States [18]
Queen of Urban Pop [19]
Aaron, LeeLee Aaron Queen of Heavy Metal Rock Canada [20]
Acuff, RoyRoy Acuff King of Country United States [21]
Adele Queen of Soul United Kingdom [22]
Aguilera, ChristinaChristina Aguilera Princess of Pop United States [23]
Allen, RickRick Allen Thunder God United Kingdom [24]
Amuro, NamieNamie Amuro Queen of Japanese Pop Japan [25]
The Japanese Madonna [26]
Andrews, JulieJulie Andrews Britain’s Youngest Prima Donna United Kingdom [27][28]
Arden, DonDon Arden The English Godfather United Kingdom [29]
Mr. Big [29]


Artist Title Country Source
Erykah Badu First Lady of Neo-Soul United States [30]
Queen of Neo-Soul [31]
Joan Baez Queen of Folk United States [32]
Beck King of Slackers United States [33]
Harry Belafonte King of Calypso United States [34][35]
Chuck Berry King of Rock and Roll United States [36]
Beyoncé Princess of Pop United States [37]
Queen of Pop Music [38]
Queen of R&B [39][40]
Mary J. Blige Empress of Soul United States [41]
Queen of Hip Hop [23]
Queen of Hip Hop Soul [41][42]
Queen of R&B [43][44]
BoA Queen of K-Pop South Korea [45]
Brandy Pop/R&B Princess United States [46]
The Vocal Bible [47][48][49]
Moya Brennan First Lady of Celtic Music Ireland [50][51]
Garth Brooks King of Country United States [52]
Chris Brown Prince of R&B United States [53][54]
Chuck Brown Godfather of Go-Go United States [55]
Dennis Brown Crown Prince of Reggae Jamaica [56][57]
James Brown Godfather of Soul United States [58][59][60]
Hardest-working Man in Show Business [59]
King of Soul [61]
Soul Brother No. 1. [60]
Mr. Dynamite [62]
Ruth Brown Queen of R&B United States [63][64]
Solomon Burke King of Rock 'n' Soul United States [65]


Artist Title Country Source
Laura Canales Queen of Tejano United States [66]
Mariah Carey Queen of R&B United States [67][68]
Roberto Carlos The King Brazil [69][70]
Ceca The Queen Serbia [71]
Clifton Chenier King of Zydeco United States [72]
Cher Goddess of Pop United States [73][74][75]
Queen of Reinvention [76][77]
Jacky Cheung God of Song Hong Kong [78]
Leslie Cheung Gor Gor (Big/Elder Brother) Hong Kong [79]
Jay Chou King of Chinese Pop Taiwan [80]
Ciara Princess of Crunk & B United States [81]
Eric Clapton God United Kingdom [82]
Kelly Clarkson Pop Princess United States [83][84][85]
Keyshia Cole Princess of Hip Hop Soul United States [86]
Sam Cooke King of Soul United States [87][88][89]
Alice Cooper Godfather of Shock Rock United States [90][91][92][93]
Celia Cruz Queen of Salsa Cuba [94]
Dick Curless Baron of Country Music United States [95]
Miley Cyrus Teen Queen United States [96][97][98]


Artist Title Country Source
Danna Paola Queen of Latin Electropop México [99]
Latin Pop Princess [99]
Daddy Yankee King of Reggaetón Puerto Rico/United States [100][101]
Damares Queen Bee Brazil [102][103][104][105]
Ray Davies Godfather of Britpop United Kingdom [106]
Vinjamuri Anasuya Devi Queen of Folk India [107]
Amr Diab Father of Mediterranean Music Egypt [108][109]
Dick Dale King of the Surf Guitar United States [110]
Celine Dion Queen Celine Canada [111][112]
Queen of Pop [67][113]
Fats Domino King of Rock and Roll United States [114]
Lonnie Donegan King of Skiffle United Kingdom [115]
Rockin' Dopsie Crown Prince of Zydeco United States [116]
Tommy Dorsey Sentimental Gentleman of Swing United States [117][118]
Duncan Mighty Port Harcourt First Son Nigeria [119]
Rocío Dúrcal Queen of Ranchera Spain B[120]
Bob Dylan King of Folk United States [121][122]
The Crown Prince of Folk [123][124]
God of Folk [125]
King of Folk-Rock [125]
Prophet of Profit [126]


Artist Title Country Source
Edwards, NokieNokie Edwards King of Guitars United States/Japan [127]
Eldritch, AndrewAndrew Eldritch Godfather of Goth United Kingdom [128]
Elliott, MissyMissy Elliott Beat Slayer United States [129]
First Lady of Hip-Hop [130][131]
Hip-Hop Goddess [132][133]
Hip-Hop Heavyweight [134][135][136][137][138]
Puff Mommy [139][140][141]
Queen of the Beats [142][143][144]
Queen of Hip Hop [145]
Queen of Hip Hop Dance Music [129]
Queen of Female Rappers [146][147][148]
Queen of Quirk [149]
Queen of Rap [150][151][152]
Emilio Navaira King of Tejano United States [153]
Estefan, GloriaGloria Estefan Queen of Latin Pop Cuba [154]


Artist Title Country Source
Brenda Fassie The Black Madonna South Africa [155][156][157]
Vicente Fernandez King of Ranchera Mexico [158]
Ella Fitzgerald First Lady of Song United States [159][160]
Foley, RedRed Foley Mr. Country Music United States [161]
Aretha Franklin Queen of Soul United States [23][162]
Alan Freed King of Rock and Roll United States [163]


Artist Title Country Source
Juan Gabriel King of Latin Pop Mexico [164]
Marvin Gaye Prince of Motown United States [165]
Prince of Soul [166]
Gloria Gaynor Queen of Disco United States [167]
Muma Gee Queen of African music Nigeria [168]
Sarah Geronimo Popstar Princess Philippines [169]
Marika Gombitová Songstress of the 20th Century Slovakia [170][171]
Benny Goodman King of Swing United States [172]
Vern Gosdin The Voice United States [173]
Amy Grant Queen of Christian Pop United States [174][175]


Artist Title Country Source
Hagen, NinaNina Hagen Godmother of Punk Germany [176]
Haley, BillBill Haley King of Rock and Roll United States [163]
Halford, RobRob Halford Metal God United Kingdom [177]
Hamasaki, AyumiAyumi Hamasaki Empress of Pop Japan [178]
Hegerová, HanaHana Hegerová Queen of Czechoslovak Chanson Czech/Slovak Republic [179][180][181]
Hikawa, KiyoshiKiyoshi Hikawa Prince of the Enka World Japan [182]
Hirose, KohmiKohmi Hirose Queen of Winter Japan [183]
Hooker, John LeeJohn Lee Hooker King of the Blues United States [184]
Houston, WhitneyWhitney Houston Pop Princess United States [185]
Prom Queen of Soul [186][187]
The Voice [188]
Hui, SamuelSamuel Hui God of Songs Hong Kong [189]
Hurricane, AlAl Hurricane Godfather of New Mexico music United States [190][191]


Artist Title Country Source
Rhoma Irama King of Dangdut Indonesia [192]
Gregory Isaacs Cool Ruler Jamaica [193]


Artist Title Country Source
Ayi Jihu The Chinese Madonna China [194][195]
Janet Jackson Princess of Pop United States [196]
Queen of Pop [197]
Queen of R&B [198]
Mahalia Jackson Queen of Gospel United States [199]
Michael Jackson King of Pop United States [200][201]
Cui Jian Grandfather of Chinese Rock People's Republic of China [202]
Blind Lemon Jefferson Father of the Texas Blues United States [203]
Joan Jett Godmother of Punk United States [204]
Robert Johnson Grandfather of Rock and Roll United States [205]
Al Jolson The World’s Greatest Entertainer United States [206]
Janis Joplin Queen of Rock and Roll United States [207][208]
Scott Joplin King of Ragtime (writers) United States [209]
Louis Jordan King of the Jukebox United States [210]
José José The Prince of Song Mexico [211]
Jully Black Queen of Canadian R&B Canada [212]


Artist Title Country Source
R. Kelly King of R&B United States [213]
King of Pop-Soul [214]
Keys, AliciaAlicia Keys Queen of R&B United States [215][216]
Khaled King of Raï Algeria [217]
B.B. King King of the Blues United States [218][219]
Khánh Ly Barefoot Queen Vietnam [220]
Gladys Knight Empress of Soul United States [221][222][223]
Frankie Knuckles Godfather of House United States [224]
Joseph Koo Godfather of Cantopop Hong Kong [225]


Artist Title Country Source
Patti LaBelle Godmother Of Soul United States [226]
High Priestess of Good Vibrations [227]
Queen of Rock "n" Soul [228]
Lady Gaga Princess of Pop United States [229][230]
New Queen of Pop [231][232]
Queen of Pop [233]
Aitken, LaurelLaurel Aitken Godfather of Ska Jamaica [234]
Lavigne, AvrilAvril Lavigne Pop-Punk Princess Canada [235][236]
Pop Punk Rock Princess [237][238]
Punk Rock Princess [239][240][241]
Paul, LesLes Paul Architect of Rock and Roll United States [11]
Lil Brianna Princess of the South United States [242]
Lil' Kim Queen Bee United States [243][244]
Lil' Mo Godmother of Hip-Hop and R&B United States [245][246]
Queen of Shade [247]
Lisa Lisa Queen of Latin Hip Hop United States [248]
Elisa Lindström Princess of Dansband Music Sweden [249]
Little Richard Architect of Rock and Roll United States [250]
King of Rock and Roll [251]
Logan, JohnnyJohnny Logan Mr. Eurovision Ireland [252][253][254]
Loggins, KennyKenny Loggins King of the Movie Soundtrack United States [255][256]
Lorde New Queen of Alternative New Zealand [257]
Love, TobyToby Love King of Crunkchata United States [258]
Lynn, LorettaLoretta Lynn First Lady of Country United States [259]
Queen of Country [260][261]
Lynn, VeraVera Lynn Forces sweetheart United Kingdom [262][263]


Artist Title Country Source
Madonna First Lady of Pop United States [264][265]
Princess of Pop [266]
Queen of Pop [23][265][267]
Queen of Reinvention [268][269]
Makeba, MiriamMiriam Makeba Mama Africa South Africa [270]
Teena Marie Ivory Queen of Soul United States [271]
Lady T [271]
McEntire, RebaReba McEntire Queen of Country United States [260][272]
Mendoza, LydiaLydia Mendoza Queen of Tejano United States [273]
Menzel, IdinaIdina Menzel Broadway Queen United States [274]
Mercury, DanielaDaniela Mercury Queen of Axé Brazil [275]
Sparrow, MightyMighty Sparrow Calypso King of the World Trinidad and Tobago [276]
Minnelli, LizaLiza Minnelli Queen of Broadway United States [277][278]
Queen of Hollywood [279]
Minogue, KylieKylie Minogue Goddess of Pop Australia [280][281][282][283]
Princess of Pop [284]
Queen of Pop [283][285][286][287]
Misia Queen of Ballads Japan [288]
Queen of Japanese Soul [289]
Misora, HibariHibari Misora Queen of Japanese Pop Japan [290][291]
Monica R&B Princess United States [46]
Monroe, BillBill Monroe Father of Bluegrass United States [292]
Moore, Rudy RayRudy Ray Moore Godfather of Rap United States [293]
Moroder, GiorgioGiorgio Moroder Father of Disco Italy [294]
Morrison, JimJim Morrison King of Orgasmic Rock United States [295]
Mui, AnitaAnita Mui Queen of Canto Pop Hong Kong [296][297]
Madonna of Asia [298]
Müren, ZekiZeki Müren Sun of Art Turkey [299]
Murphy, PeterPeter Murphy Godfather of Goth United Kingdom [300]
My Tam (Mỹ Tâm) The Queen of V-Pop Viet Nam [301]


Artist Title Country Source
Stevie Nicks Queen of Rock and Roll United States [302][303]
Thanh Nga The Queen of Cải lương (Vietnamese Renovated Opera) South Vietnam [304]
No I.D. The Godfather of Chicago hip hop United States [305][306]
Noor Jehan Queen of Melody British India/Pakistan [307]


Artist Title Country Source
Odetta Queen of American Folk Music United States [308]
Onyeka Onwenu Queen of African pop music Nigeria [309]
Elegant Stallion [310]
Orelsan The Boss of French rap France [311]
The French Eminem [312][313][314][315]
Ozzy Osbourne Godfather of Heavy Metal United Kingdom [316]
Prince of Darkness [316]
Johnny Otis Godfather of Rhythm and Blues United States [317]


Artist Title Country Source
Park, JayJay Park Fresh Prince of Seoul United States/South Korea [318][319]
Danna Paola Queen of Latin Electropop México [99]
Latin Pop Princess [99]
Parton, DollyDolly Parton Queen of Country United States [260]
Patton, CharleyCharley Patton Father of the Delta Blues United States [320]
Pavarotti, LucianoLuciano Pavarotti King of the High C's Italy [321]
Perkins, CarlCarl Perkins King of Rockabilly United States [322]
Peters, BernadetteBernadette Peters Queen of Broadway United States [323][324]
Pop, IggyIggy Pop Godfather of Punk United States [325][326]
Presley, ElvisElvis Presley King of Rock and Roll United States [327]
Presley, Lisa MarieLisa Marie Presley Princess of Rock and Roll United States [328]


Artist Title Country Source
Ivy Queen Queen of Reggaetón Puerto Rico/United States [329][330]
Queen of Rap [331]
Queen of Latin Hip-Hop [332]
Queen of Urban Music [333]
Reggaetón's First Lady [334]


Artist Title Country Source
Joey Ramone Godfather of Punk United States [335]
Ray, JohnnieJohnnie Ray Prince of Wails United States [336]
Redding, OtisOtis Redding King of Soul United States [337]
Reed, LouLou Reed Godfather of Punk United States [338]
Rihanna Princess of Pop Barbados [339]
R&B Princess [340][341][342][343]
Rubio, PaulinaPaulina Rubio The Mexican Madonna Mexico [344]
Rodgers, JimmieJimmie Rodgers Father of Country Music United States [345]
Rozalla Queen of Rave Zambia [346]
Todd Rundgren God United States [347][348][349]


Artist Title Country Source
Romeo Santos King of Bachata United States [350]
Chuck Schuldiner Father of Death Metal United States [351]
Shirley Scott Queen of the Organ United States [352]
Gil Scott-Heron Godfather of Rap United States [293]
Selena Tejano music Queen Mexico/United States [353]
Queen of Latin Music [354]
Frank Sinatra Chairman of the Board United States [355]
Staple Singers First Family of Gospel
Nina Simone Queen of Soul United States/France [356]
High Priestess of Soul [357]
Siouxsie Sioux Godmother of Goth United Kingdom [358]
Siti Nurhaliza Voice of Asia Malaysia [359]
Asia's Celine Dion [360]
Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues United States [357]
Patti Smith Godmother of Punk United States [361]
Sy Smith The Underground Queen of R&B and Soul United States [362][363][364]
Britney Spears Princess of Pop United States [23][365]
Queen of Pop [366][367]
Dusty Springfield White Queen of Soul United Kingdom [368][369]
Bruce Springsteen The Boss United States [370]
Candi Staton First Lady of Southern Soul United States [371]
Stevie B King of Freestyle United States [372]
George Strait King of Country United States [373]
Donna Summer Queen of Disco United States [23]
Sylvester Queen of Disco United States [374]


Artist Title Country Source
Alan Tam Principal (Tam) Hong Kong [375]
Koko Taylor Queen of the Blues United States [376]
Thalía Queen of Latin pop Mexico [377]
Irma Thomas Soul Queen of New Orleans United States [378]
Timaya Egberi papa 1 of Bayelsa Nigeria [379]
Justin Timberlake Prince of Pop United States [380]
President of Pop [381]
Dick Todd King of the Jukebox United States [382]
Pete Townshend Godfather of Punk United Kingdom [383]
Gloria Trevi The Mexican Madonna Mexico [384]
Tina Turner Queen of Rock United States [23]
Shania Twain Country Pop Queen Canada [385][386]
Queen of Country Pop [387]


Artist Title Country Source
Hikaru Utada Diva of Asia Japan [388]


Artist Title Country Source
Regine Velasquez Asia's Songbird Philippines [389]
Viguen Sultan of Pop Iran [390]


Artist Title Country Source
Liza Wang Big Sister Hong Kong [391]
Dionne Warwick Princess of Pop United States [392]
Dinah Washington Queen of the Blues United States [393][394]
Paul Weller Modfather United Kingdom [395]
Kitty Wells Queen of Country United States [396][397]
Paul Whiteman King of Jazz United States [7][163]
Marijohn Wilkin The Den Mother of Music Row United States [398]
Jackie Wilson Mister Excitement United States [399]
Tony Wilson Mr Manchester United Kingdom [400][401]
Wendy O. Williams Queen of Shock Rock United States [402]
Faye Wong Diva of Asia Hong Kong/People's Republic of China [403]
Heavenly Queen [403]
Tammy Wynette First Lady of Country United States [404][405]


Artist Title Country Source
Xuxa Queen of Children Brazil [406]


Artist Title Country Source
Yuri The Mexican Madonna Mexico [407]
Neil Young Godfather of Grunge Canada [408]


Artist Title Country Source
Jimmy Zámbó King Hungary [409][410]

Group titles

Artist(s) Title Country Source
Aerosmith America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band United States [411][412]
Anthrax Big Four of Thrash United States [413][414][415]
The Beach Boys America's Band United States [416]
The Beatles Fab Four United Kingdom [417]
Dusty Springfield Five Mighty Pop Divas of the Sixties United Kingdom [418]
Aretha Franklin United States
Martha Reeves
Diana Ross
Dionne Warwick
Five Stairsteps First Family of Soul United States [419][420]
The Jackson 5 First Family of Soul United States [419]
Jacky Cheung Four Heavenly Kings of Chinese Pop Hong Kong [78]
Leon Lai
Andy Lau
Aaron Kwok
My Linh (Đỗ Mỹ Linh) Four divas of Vietnam Viet Nam [421]
Thanh Lam (Đoàn Thanh Lam)
Hong Nhung (Lê Hồng Nhung)
Tran Thu Ha (Trần Thu Hà)
R.E.M. America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band United States [422]
The Rolling Stones World's Greatest Rock and Roll Band United Kingdom [423]
TVXQ The Kings Of K-POP South Korea G[424]
KISS The Hottest Band in the World United States [425]

See also


  • A denotes template , i.e. for sources where a reference is alluded to, or given in part, but not specified in enough detail. Their factuality, thus, may or may not be in question.
  • B denotes template [], i.e. for source(s) that needs to be translated.
  • C denotes template , i.e. for source(s) very possibly being unreliable
  • D denotes template , i.e. for source(s) that have been checked, but did not contain the cited material.
  • E denotes template , i.e. clarification of wording or interpretation is needed.
  • F denotes template , i.e. source cannot be verified.
  • G denotes template The discussed artists themselves and/or only one cited person?


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  19. ^ "But Aaliyah Dana Haughton, the reigning Queen of Urban Pop, wasn't sitting still. She was hard at work, shooting her  
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