Top 10 list a tribute to Illinois music

July 28, 2018

On one hand, Illinoisans can be proud of the results of a vote taken to determine the state’s best musicians. The vote was taken by participants of the Illinois Top 200 project, part of the state’s bicentennial celebration.

The just-released list provide these rankings, in order, from 1 to 10: REO Speedwagon; Alison Krauss; Nat King Cole; Cheap Trick; Miles Davis; Benny Goodman; Buddy Guy; Earth, Wind & Fire; Muddy Waters; and Sam Cooke.

What diversity is included here. There’s driving, classic rock in the form of REO and Cheap Trick. There’s bluegrass/country represented by Krauss, jazz by Davis and Goodman, blues by Guy and Waters and soul/rhythm and blues by Earth Wind & Fire and Cooke.

Nevertheless, there is room for quibbling, and here comes some.

Among those left off the list is the band Chicago, which quite arguably is the most commercially successful band ever to hail from the state. With all due respect to REO, Chicago should have been at the very top of the list.

Voters also had a chance to acknowledge other music genres but did not. Smashing Pumpkins were at the forefront of the alternative rock movement but could not claim a spot. Nor could Kanye West, one of the world’s best-known hip hop/rap performers. John Prine is one the world’s top folk performers, and he didn’t make the cut either. Georg Solti, among the premier classical conductors, also was left off.

Now, let’s set the quibbling aside. Regardless of who landed where, the outcome shows some of the best music known to humankind originated here. Illinois is the Land of Lincoln, and it’s also the land of sweet sounds.

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