The United States has a long tradition of honoring its top music talents on stamps.  From the Famous American Series  in the 1930's featuring John Phillip Sousa and Stephen Foster to the most recent issues commemorating Marvin Gaye, Johnny Cash, and Miles Davis these commemorative stamps have recognized outstanding musicians, singers, composers, and conductors from a wide range of music gendres including: jazz, country, symphony, rock, gospel, opera, pop and folk.  

Which musical artists are  to be featured on stamp is determined by the Postal Commission.  It is a fairly secretive process that usually has little or no public input.  An exception was made at the end of 1999 when the public was polled to vote for the music giants and achievements of the each decade from1900-1990.  Winners included Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Jazz Ensembles, and Hip Hop Artists.

Most probably in the area of music commemoratives there must be over 100 US stamps.  Yet, I am somewhat baffled that there seems to be some grave omissions of a number of superstars in a few music categories.  I am listing a few artists that if I were on the commission, I would certainly recommend and promote as giants of the U.S. musical history deserving recognition on a postage stamp.

#1) John Denver (Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. (December 31, 1943 – October 12, 1997)-  has never been honored US stamps but has been featured on foreign stamps. Considering this numerous accomplishments in the field of country music, his omission is inexcusable.  His many accomplishments  include  songwriting,  record producing, acting , and environmental activism.  His greatest commercial success was as a solo singer.  Denver began his music career with folk groups during the late 1960's.   Starting in the 1970's, he was one of the most popular acoustic artists of the decade and one of its best-selling artists. By 1974, he was one of America's best-selling performers, and considered among the most beloved entertainers of the decade.

Denver recorded and released approximately 300 songs, about 200 of which he composed. He had 33 albums and singles that were certified Gold and Platinum in the U.S.  He recorded and performed primarily with an acoustic guitar and sang about his joy in nature, his disdain for city life, his enthusiasm for music, and his relationship trials. Denver's music appeared on a variety of charts, including country music, pop music, and adult contemporty in all earning 12 gold and four platinum albums with his signature songs "Take Me Home, Country Roads", "Annie's Song", and "Rocky Mountain High."

#2) Beverly Sills, (May 25,1929- July 2, 2007)  was an outstanding opera soprano and promoter of opera in the U.S.,  She was called "America's Queen of Opera" by Time Magazine,and known as "Bubbles" to her fans, was the face of opera for millions through her public performances, recordings and broadcasts during a singing career of more than four decades.

After retiring in 1980, she stayed in the public eye for the next three decades as head of music organizations, host of public television specials, and as chairperson for national charities. With her death in 2007, the opera world lost one of its most visible and endearing supporters.

#3) Bill Evans- William John Evans (August 16, 1929 – September 15, 1980) was an American jazz pianist and composer who mostly played in trios. His use of impressionist harmony, inventive interpretation of traditional jazz repertoire, block chords, and trademark rhythmically independent, "singing" melodic lines continue to influence jazz pianists today.

#4) George Jones  (1931-2013)  was born in Saratoga, Texas, in 1931. He began his career by performing on the street to help earn money for his large and impoverished family, and after a brief stint in the military began to pursue his musical ambitions in earnest. In 1955 Jones landed in the country Top Ten with "Why Baby Why," and for the rest of his career was very rarely far from the charts, releasing hit single after hit single as a solo artist and as a duet partner with some of country’s biggest stars, most notably Tammy Wynette, who was also his third wife. Battling his personal demons along the way, Jones amassed an impressive musical legacy that earned him a 2012 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, among many other honors. He died in 2013, at the age of 81.

#5) Frank Vincent Zappa  (December 21, 1940 – December 4, 1993) was an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and bandleader. His work is characterized by nonconformity, free-form improvisation, sound experiments, musical virtuosity, and satire of American culture.  In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa composed rock, pop, and orchestral works, and produced almost all of the 60-plus albums that he released with his band the Mothers of Invention  and as a solo artist.  Zappa also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed album covers. He is considered one of the most innovative and stylistically diverse rock musicians of his era.

#6) Mario Lanza  (January 31,1921-October 7, 1959)  Born in Philadelphia to Italian immigrant parents, Mario's talents were recognized at a very young age.   Even though Lanza had a relatively short musical career,  his accomplishments were astounding not only in the opera world, but on Broadway and in film.  Arturo Toscanini referred to this voice as "the voice of the century."  Many viewed Lanza as the natural successor to Enrico Caruso, and indeed, one Lanza's life goals was accomplished when he portrayed his operatic idol in the very successful film, "The Great Caruso."  

Aug 28th 2020

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