At a time when most female pop is Auto-Tuned, Nellie McKay — singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and comedian — is an unorthodox breath of fresh air. London-born but living much of her youth in Pennsylvania (she’s a veteran of the Pocono Youth Orchestra and Phil Woods’ orchestra of promising young players), McKay has explored Tin Pan Alley pop and uneasy-listening jazz. Her music could be self-penned or pulled from the songbooks of Kurt Weill, Peggy Lee and Cole Porter — all with witty lyrics rich in unsentimental, anti-romantic sarcasm or all-around silliness.

As living legends go, Patti LaBelle has to be among the best.

Along with the usual list of pop and R&B icons like Aretha, Cher and Diana, LaBelle provided one of the original blueprints for damn-near every diva who has come after her looking to parlay their singing skills into greater super-stardom.

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