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American singer-songwriter Paul Simon is an influential figure in American rock music. He is best known for his long-running success as a musician.
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American singer-songwriter Paul Simon has made significant contributions to the American rock tradition. He began his career as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel with his friend and musical partner Art Garfunkel. He has won 13 Grammys, including the Lifetime Achievement Award and was selected as one of the "100 People Who Shaped the World" by Time magazine in 2006.
Musician Paul Simon was born on October 13, 1941, to Jewish-American parents living in New Jersey. As a singer-songwriter known for his cerebral compositions, it seems only fitting that Simon's mother, Belle, was an English teacher and his father, Louis, was both a teacher and a bandleader.
Simon moved to Queens, New York, at a young age, soon meeting and befriending Art Garfunkel, "the most famous singer in the neighborhood." In fact, Simon credits Garfunkel's performance in the 4th grade talent show as his inspiration to start singing.
At Forest Hill High School, Simon and Garfunkel formed a duo called "Tom and Jerry." Occasionally performing for school dances, they pooled together $7 in 1957 to lay down the track "Hey Schoolgirl," which became a minor hit. Although the song's success landed the pair a chance to perform on American Bandstand right after Jerry Lee Lewis, Tom and Jerry decided to go their separate ways for college after they failed to produce a follow-up hit.
The two reunited a few years later, however, releasing their first album, Wednesday Morning 3AM, as "Simon and Garfunkel" in 1964. Although the album was a commercial failure, it set the tone for their collaborative style: slow, analytical and antithetical to most rock 'n' roll of the time. The album also contained an acoustic version of "Sound of Silence" that would later help pave the way to broader success.
Dismayed by the failure of Simon and Garfunkel's first album, Paul Simon released a solo album, The Paul Simon Songbook, in 1965. Once again, the album went largely unnoticed despite including tracks like "I Am a Rock" and "Kathy's Song" that would later go on to become fan favorites.
In 1966, Simon and Garfunkel took another stab at recording with the album Sounds of Silence. Included among its tracks was a re-edited version of "Sound of Silence" that contained electric accompaniment. The remake became an instant hit; overnight, the duo became the darlings of literary-minded college students.
Things only got better in 1967 when Simon and Garfunkel were asked to collaborate on the soundtrack to Mike Nichols' iconic film The Graduate. Released in 1968 with songs like "Scarborough Fair" and "Mrs. Robinson," the soundtrack was a smash hit, marking Simon and Garfunkel's ascendency to become one of the most popular and influential acts of the era.
Simon and Garfunkel would produce only one more album together after The Graduate, however, recording Bridge Over Troubled Water in 1969. With its gospel influences, dramatic crescendo and pacifist lyrics, the title song became a cultural anthem for the 1960s generation.
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Legendary folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel—comprised of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel—performed songs that spoke to the generation of the 1960s and '70s, including "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "The Sound of Silence" and The Graduate soundtrack hits "Scarborough Fair" and "Mrs. Robinson." Today, the duo is credited as one of the most popular and influential acts of the era.
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With simply their voices and guitars, folk singers are the unplugged artists who tell our collective stories through their songs. Their music conveys universal truths and, in turbulent times, is often a call to action in the form of protest songs. Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and other legendary folk singers have rallied audiences around historic causes such as the Civil Rights, peace and feminist movements. Here are some of the famous folk singers who were revolutionary through their songs.
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