Lady Day and Ella contenders for Greatest Jazz Artist

Billie Holiday

On launch day for BBC Music Jazz, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald are revealed in the top ten for 'Greatest Jazz Artist' of all time voted for by Jazz FM and the BBC audiences.

Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald have been revealed as contenders to be named the ‘Greatest Jazz Artist’ of all time. They’re in the top ten of a BBC Music Jazz poll, beating some of the biggest names in jazz including Dave Brubeck and Nina Simone.
The revelation comes today to celebrate the first day of broadcasting for BBC Music Jazz, a temporary pop-up radio station for jazz on DAB, online and mobile. This is the first collaboration of its kind between BBC music, Jazz FM and EFG London Jazz Festival and the station runs from 12th – 15th November. It will feature bespoke jazz content, live broadcasts from EFG London Jazz Festival, unique one-off documentaries and archive recordings, curated by BBC Radio and Jazz FM.

As part of the programming, BBC Radio and Jazz FM listeners were invited to vote for the Greatest Jazz Artist of all time from a list of fifty shortlisted musicians drawn up by a panel consisting of BBC jazz presenters, Jazz FM presenters, jazz musicians, critics, and journalists. The full results of the poll will be revealed on BBC Music Jazz, daily. With names including Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday in the top ten; Dave Brubeck, Nina Simone and Fats Waller in the top twenty, over the next four days Radio 3’s Geoffrey Smith and Jazz FM’s Helen Mayhew will reveal the ranking of each artist, at 9pm daily. The top ten will be revealed on Sunday at 4pm.

BBC Music Jazz aims to pull together the best of jazz content on the radio and provide programmes designed to appeal to newcomers and life-long jazz fans alike, including documentaries examining comedy actor Dudley Moore’s virtuoso jazz piano playing, Jamie Cullum introducing the genre as a whole, musical masterclasses, an exclusive live broadcast of Kamasi Washington’s EFG London Jazz Festival performance from the Barbican and BBC Radio 3’s Jazz on 3 Ronnie Scott’s gig simulcast on the pop-up station.

A full schedule for the pop-up station is now available at and all content will be available to catch up for 30 days on BBC Radio iPlayer.

Greatest Jazz Artist of all time – Top 50 shortlist:

  • Abbey Lincoln
  • Art Blakey
  • Art Tatum
  • Betty Carter
  • Bill Evans
  • Billie Holiday
  • Bobby Wellins
  • Buddy Rich
  • Cannonball Adderley    
  • Carmen Mcrae
  • Charles Lloyd
  • Charles Mingus
  • Charlie Haden
  • Charlie Parker
  • Count Basie
  • Dave Brubeck
  • Dianne Reeves
  • Dizzy Gillespie
  • Duke Ellington
  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • Esbjörn Svensson
  • Fats Waller
  • George Shearing
  • Gerry Mulligan
  • Gregory Porter
  • Herbie Hancock 
  • Hugh Masekela
  • Jamie Cullum
  • Jan Garbarek
  • Jimmy Smith
  • John Coltrane
  • John Taylor
  • Keith Jarrett
  • Kenny Wheeler
  • Lester Young 
  • Loose Tubes
  • Louis Armstrong
  • Mark Murphy
  • Mary Lou Williams
  • Miles Davis
  • Nina Simone
  • Norma Winstone
  • Ornette Coleman
  • Oscar Peterson
  • Pat Metheny
  • Sun Ra
  • Thelonious Monk
  • Tubby Hayes
  • Wayne Shorter
  • Woody Herman

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