Francis Albert ( Frank) Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey in 19 15 to a middle class Italian American family. He died some 82 years later having accomplished more than his parents, his friends and even some of his early fans could ever have anticipated. During his lifetime, Frank Sinatra was married four times, had three children, made friends with presidents and individuals of less savory reputation. He enjoyed fame as an actor and somewhat enjoyed his bad boy persona. More than all of these things, Frank Sinatra will be best remembered in the entertainment history of the United States as the top American pop singer of all time.
Getting Started. Frank Sinatra’s intention to join the armed forces and take part in World War II were derailed when he was classified as 4-F, disqualified from active service by a perforated ear drum. This set back turned Frank to civilian pursuits, specifically using the vocal gift which he clearly possessed.
Frank Sinatra did his earliest regular performing as a singing waiter making $15 per week. But, it wasn’t long before the assistance he got from family and friends and a good measure of luck helped to connect him with Harry James and then Tommy Dorsey. Experience singing with these orchestras led Sinatra to his first solo contract with Columbia Records. He would later sing on the Capitol label.
During the 40’s as the war ended and national euphoria exploded, Sinatra was becoming a local teen idol. His looks and his talent brought in the bobby soxers by the thousands to live performances in New York City and beyond.
They Called Him “the Voice” During his career Frank Sinatra was rechristened by his followers several times. Some called him the “Chairman of the Board ” while others attracted to his cool look liked the name “old blue eyes”. The one name given Sinatra that best described his talent and explained why he would become the top American pop singer of all time was “the Voice”.
Sinatra, according to music professionals, had an exceptional gift for singing across a broad range. His voice control, breathing skills and modulation took him to a whole different level of vocal performance. But there was more to “the Voice” than technical skills. Sinatra put something of himself in every song. His voice was emotive, nostalgic, warm, and gentle. He could also intone feelings of loss, melancholy or tenderness seemingly at will.
It was this ability that Sinatra had to transmit the written word by tonal inflection to the hearts of listeners that lifted him above other vocalists and made him the top American pop singer of all time.
Sinatra on the Silver Screen Sinatra’s singing career lasted across seven decades but not all of that time was filled with musical success. The Fifties could have proved the downfall of Sinatra but precisely when he needed it, his dramatic ability rescued him and kept him in the view of Americans while his musical career regrouped.
In all Sinatra played in 25 movies in his career. In 1953 he won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor in “From Here to Eternity”. This recognition was followed by an Academy Award nomination two years later as the lead actor in “The Man with the Golden Arm”. Even while Sinatra was dabbling in the movies, it was still his voice that touched the hearts of American fans. In a 1954 film, Frank Sinatra brought home an Academy Award without ever being seen on the screen singing the title song from ” Three Coins in a Fountain”.
Leaving His Musical Mark As with any vocalist there were some songs, among the literally hundreds which he sang, that will forever be connected to Frank Sinatra and help to nail down his claim as the top American pop singer of all times. His best known albums include “Come Fly With Me” and ” In the Wee Small Hours”. But it is the singles that really are his signature pieces.
No one today can hear “My Way”, “New York, New York”, “Strangers in the Night” or “A Very Good Year” without hearing it in the voice of Frank Sinatra. He is just that dominant a singer.
And the Winner Is Frank Sinatra was a frequent winner of entertainment accolades. Perhaps those most touching were the two which came later on in his career. His overall career as an American performer was recognized by the nation when he was selected as a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1983.
Some ten years later during the 1994 Grammy Awards Ceremony Frank Sinatra was accorded the greatest honor a pop singer can achieve in the United States when he was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
The summary of anyone’s life can never be fully attested to by any one award. Frank Sinatra’s meaning to fans over seven decades and beyond is that they simply recall him as the top American pop singer of all times. As a popular Sinatra lyric would say ” nice work if you can get it”.