Jazz royalty is a term encompassing the many jazz musicians who have been termed as exceptionally musically gifted and informally granted honorific, "aristocratic" or "royal" titles as nicknames. The practice of affixing honorific titles to the names of jazz musicians goes back to New Orleans at the start of the 20th century, before the genre was commonly known as "jazz".
In New York City in the 1920s, Paul Whiteman was billed as the "King of Jazz". His popular band with many hit records arguably played more jazz-influenced popular music than jazz per se, but to the dismay of many later jazz fans, Whiteman's self-conferred moniker stuck, and a film The King of Jazz starring Whiteman and his band appeared in 1930. The "King of Jazz" title was a publicity stunt in 1923 by an instrument manufacturer that Whiteman endorsed.
- King Bolden: Buddy Bolden
- The King of Swing: Benny Goodman
- King Oliver (Joseph Nathan Oliver)
- Nat King Cole (Nathaniel Adams Coles)
- King Pleasure (Clarence Beeks)
- The Queen of Swing: Mildred Bailey
- The Queen of Jazz: Ella Fitzgerald
- The Empress of the Blues: Bessie Smith
- Malaysia's Queen of Jazz: Sheila Majid
- The Queen of Filipino Jazz: Katy de la Cruz
Other royal titles
- The Prince of Darkness: Miles Davis
- The Maharaja: Oscar Peterson
- The Duke: Duke Ellington
- The Prince of Cool: Chet Baker
- The Jazz Baroness (Pannonica de Koenigswarter Rothschild)
- Count: William James "Count" Basie
- Lady Day: Billie Holiday
- Mother of the Blues: Ma Rainey
- Father of the Blues: W. C. Handy
- Prez (The President): Lester Young
- The related tradition of Calypsonian nicknames
- List of honorific titles in popular music
- List of nicknames of jazz musicians
- "How did jazz musicians end up with all those nicknames?", section: "Performers as Royalty", Allen, Tim, Oxford Dictionaries, April 7, 2015
- Berrett, Joshua (2004). Louis Armstrong & Paul Whiteman: Two Kings of Jazz. Yale University Press. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-300-10384-7.
- Marquis, Donald M. (2005). In Search of Buddy Bolden: First Man of Jazz. LSU Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-80713-093-3.
- Yanow, Scott (2003). Jazz on Record: The First Sixty Years. Backbeat Books. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-87930-755-4.
- "Google Doodle honours 'Queen of Jazz' Ella Fitzgerald on 96th birthday". independent.co.uk. 25 April 2013.
- "Bessie Smith". Biography.
- "Malaysia's Queen of Jazz Sheila Majid & Dr Soo Wincci for Christmas!". artiste.com.my.
- "Katy De La Cruz: Remembering Mommy Kate". Archived from the original on 16 August 2007.
- Ken Franckling (August 1986). "Miles Davis -- Shining a Light on the Prince of Darkness". Jazz Times. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
The well-tended Prince of Darkness persona is gone this way
- Robin D. G. Kelley (May 13, 2001). "Miles Davis: The Chameleon of Cool; A Jazz Genius In the Guise Of a Hustler". New York Times. Retrieved 21 December 2008.
- "Jazz Great Oscar Peterson Dies". CNN. Associated Press. December 25, 2007. Archived from the original on December 5, 2008. Retrieved 25 December 2008.
Duke Ellington referred to him as 'Maharajah of the keyboard'