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The first state to ratify the United States Constitution has played home to a number of notable musical acts that have gone under the radar. Though it may be hard to believe, some of the most talented musicians either saw birth here or traveled here during a time in their lives. The largest city in Delaware, Wilmington, continues to be a hub for upcoming acts. The Queen in Wilmington hosts some of the best musical acts from around the country. But in the past, Delaware also allowed for artists to hone their crafts, seek refuge, and build up a rapport with their audience. The advent of festivals like Firefly and the newest day party scene, Trapstock, seem to be boosting the profile of the state. Though often looked down upon as small, flat, and boring, Delawareans and outsiders alike can enjoy the sounds that flow from the Diamond State. For musicians, Delaware has provided opportunities for listeners to reap new and different musical stylings. From Bossa Nova innovators like Diego Paulo to Hip Hop pioneers like Shizz Nitty, the state has transformed from a tiny dot to a significant part of the euphonic landscape. Even some of the Hip Hop acts like Swish Maddi and producers like SAP (Sounds of a Pioneer) can call Delaware home. Perhaps the most prominent Wilmingtonian in the rap game is Gimel Androus Keaton, best known as Young Guru, the engineer for Rap titan Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter amongst others. So gather your blue hen colored guitars and drum machines for, Why Are You Ranking: Best Musical Acts to Have Enriched Delaware from the Admired Duly to the Adored Greatly.
The Brilliant Bandleader
3. Cabell "Cab" Calloway III
This impresario landed in Delaware in the latter part of his life. It has not been reported that he made any music in the state but that he had retired from a gloriously successful career as a bandleader. Delawareans welcomed Mr. Calloway to Hockessin, Delaware (a few miles from Wilmington) where he would spend his final days. What drew him to the First State is the fact that it provided a beautiful place to retire. This is not uncharacteristic of the state. Mr. Calloway’s energized style and charisma will forever live in the minds of Delawareans and citizens of the world alike. In his honor, the people of Delaware established the Cab Calloway School of the Arts. He deserved it.
Rank: Admired Duly
A Bad Man on the Axe
2. George Thorogood
From the Blues to Rock, the legendary Mr. Thorogood got his start playing at the University of Delaware and a well-known watering hole in Newark, Delaware called The Deer Park Tavern. The only native Delawarean on this list, Thorogood occupies a rare space. As he progressed through the industry of music, Thorogood gained success by covering the works of Hank Williams and Bo Diddley. His hit song, used in numerous film and television productions is “Bad to the Bone.” This throaty, coarse and relentless tune has stamped Thorogood with the seal of approval from members outside of his core audience. “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” another cover, also helped to cement Thorogood in the pantheon of Delaware performers.
Rank: Accepted Locally
Mr. Marley in Full Concert Mode
1. Robert “Bob” Nesta Marley
As one of the most influential human beings of all time, few people may know that Mr. Marley’s stint in the Small Wonder state consisted of him working at the Newark, Delaware Chrysler plant. He also lent his hand in a few dealings for the Dupont chemical corporation as a laboratory assistant. In a move to be closer to his mother, Marley took up residence in Wilmington. A staple among college dorm rooms, Marley’s megastar image still remains after his demise. For his honest and simple lyricism about complex topics as self defense, world peace, and the Buffalo Soldiers, Marley deserves to be remembered as a man of musical genius and integrity. His choice to spend some time in Delaware only shows that he recognized the place to be good enough for his mother and acceptable in his sight.
Rank: Adored Greatly