6 Actresses You Didn’t Know Were Singers Too

In the field of entertainment, there have been a number of singers who have gone on to earn roles in film and television—Beyoncé, Whitney Houston, and Barbra Streisand to name a few. But less common is the move from acting to singing, for whatever reason. Sure, there are those who become known for doing both at once—like Idina Menzel, who has won awards for her work in Broadway musicals.

Videos by American Songwriter

Below are six prominent actresses who have also had careers as singers, though you may not have known it off the top of your head.

1. Scarlett Johansson

To say Scarlett Johansson is accomplished would be an understatement. She was the world’s highest-paid actress in both 2018 and 2019. She is also the highest-grossing box office star of all time. But her power and prestige don’t end on the silver screen. Since 2006, Johansson has been involved in music. She was the lead in Justin Timberlake’s “What Goes Around… Comes Around” video and in 2008, she released her debut LP, Anywhere I Lay My Head. That record included one original song and ten Tom Waits covers. In 2009 she released the collaborative album, Break Up. Since, she’s released singles and even formed a band with Este Haim Holly Miranda, Kendra Morris, and Julia Haltigan.

2. Zooey Deschanel

A star in films like Elf and 500 Days of Summer, the 43-year-old Zooey Deschanel was also famously married to Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard from 2009 to 2012. More recently, Deschanel has been working with acclaimed singer-songwriter M. Ward in the musical project She & Him. American Songwriter caught up with the duo recently for their latest release, Melt Away: A Tribute to Brian Wilson. “In the car on the way to school, I remember being really little and my mom had, like, four cassette tapes—The Lovin’ Spoonful, Linda Ronstadt, The Everly Brothers, and The Beach Boys,” said the dual threat. “So, I can hear all those influences in the music that I love and the music that I make.”

3. Eartha Kitt

Known by many today as an actress (those old Batman reruns with Kitt as Catwoman are seemingly always on), Eartha Kitt came up as a dual threat. She boasts a distinctive voice that is recognizable after a single phrase. She is the definition of class and cultural sophistication, royalty walking amongst the commoners. Kitt is breathtaking.

4. Kate Winslett

The 47-year-old British-born actress, who is known for roles in films like Titanic and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and on TV shows like Mare of Easttown, is an Oscar winner. But did you know she is also a Grammy Award winner? Okay, it’s for the narration of a short story in the audiobook, Listen to the Storyteller, from 1999, but Winslett is also a singer. For evidence, look no further than her performance of the epic ballad song, “What If,” from the animated movie soundtrack from Christmas Carol: The Movie. In the wistful song, Winslett displays powerful pipes.

5. Marilyn Monroe

Known as the blond bombshell in the ’50s and ’60s, Marilyn Monroe’s movies grossed some $200 million in her day, which is the equivalent of some $2 billion today. But while most know Monroe, who was at different times married to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller, from her roles on screen, she was also a singer. In her first few months as a professional, she studied singing (as well as acting and filmmaking) and later Monroe became known for singing in her films. In subsequent USO tours, she would sing songs from her movies for troops overseas. According to Discogs, she is cited on dozens of albums and recordings today.

6. Keke Palmer

A Swiss Army Knife of a media personality, Keke Palmer recently started in the Jordan Peele smash, Nope. She is also a daytime talk show host and a former child star. But did you know Palmer is a talented singer? If she didn’t have 11 other careers, she could be a pop star. Just check out her latest release, “FR FR,” which dropped just two weeks ago as part of her album and documentary, Big Boss. If the word “star” doesn’t fit the 29-year-old multi-talent, then it doesn’t fit anyone.

Photo by Joe Maher/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Behind the Death of Music Legend Ray Charles