Sylvester James (Los Angeles, September 6, 1947 – San Francisco, December 16, 1988), better known as Sylvester, was an American disco and soul singer-songwriter. Known for his flamboyant and androgynous appearance, he was often described as a drag queen, although repeatedly rejected such a description. Responsible for a string of hit singles, in the late 1970s, Sylvester became known in the United States under the moniker of the "Queen of Disco".
Born in Watts, Los Angeles, Sylvester developed a love of singing through the gospel choirs of his Pentecostal church. Leaving the congregation after being persecuted for his homosexuality, he was an early founder of a group of African-American cross-dressers and transwomen known as The Disquotays, who disbanded in 1970. Moving to San Francisco, he embraced the counter-culture and joined drag troupe The Cockettes, eventually producing solo shows heavily influenced by female blues and jazz singers like Billie Holiday and Josephine Baker. During their critically panned tour of New York City, Sylvester left the Cockettes to focus on his solo career.