Leap Year Day: 5 musical leaplings you need to know about

Babies born on 29 February are known as leapers or leaplings and the chances of being born on a leap year day is said to be one in 1,461. Despite the odds here are five musical leapers that topped the charts.

As they share a rare birthday between them this weekend, here's the impact they've made on the world musically.

Ja Rule

Jeffrey Atkins better known as Ja Rule is a rapper, singer and an actor.

Born in Queens, New York he began his career in music in a group called Cash Money Click. He's regarded as one of the most successful rappers ever in America.

Ja Rule's musical style is a combination of hard core rap with heavy metal and pop rhythms, making his music unique with a universal appeal. Although his group disbanded in the 1990s this didn’t deter Ja Rule from pursuing his career.

In 1998 Ja Rule performed a verse in Jay Z’s single Can I Get A. That verse helped Ja Rule land his own debut album Venni Vetti Vecci and he shot to rap stardom.

Since then Ja Rule has gone on to collaborating with rappers DMX, 50 Cent, The Game, Busta Rhymes, Dr Dre, and Eminem.

The rapper has sold over 20 million records worldwide and has released six albums with one on the way and one of his best-sellers is Pain Is Love.

Ja Rule will celebrate his 44th birthday this weekend.

Ja Rule is a leapling and the American rapper was born in 1976.

Mark Foster

He's the lead vocalist for the American indie-pop band, Foster the People, and is turning 36-years-old this weekend.

Mark was born in San Jose, California, and as well as being a singer and songwriter he's also a multi-instrumentalist and can play various instruments, from the piano, synthesiser, keyboard, and guitar.

His band formed in 2009 after their song, Pumped Up Kicks, went viral. The single, a number three Billboard hit went on to be nominated for a Grammy Award for the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

Foster the People have since released three albums, Torches, Supermodel and Sacred Hearts Club.

Mark Foster is the lead vocalist for the American indie-pop band Foster the People and are known for their viral hit Pumped Up Kicks in 2009.

Mervyn Warren

Turning 56, Mervyn is a film composer who’s a five-time Grammy winner.

Born in Alabama, not only is Mervyn a highly accomplished film composer but he’s also a record producer, lyricist, songwriter, arranger, pianist and vocalist.

His credits range from working with names like Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men, Barbra Streisand, Rascal Flatts, Michael Bublé, Chicago, Queen Latifah, Al Jarreau, and Faith Hill and more.

Mervyn’s written film scores for various genres from comedy, drama and action such as The Wedding Planner with Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey and Whoopi Goldberg starring in Sister Act 2.

He also arranged and produced the Grammy-nominated and multi-platinum soundtrack film, The Preacher’s Wife starring Whitney Houston.

He’s also written countless arrangements for his mentors Quincy Jones and David Foster.

Currently Mervyn spends his time between producing records and writing both underscore and songs for feature films.

Mervyn Warren is a film composer who’s a five-time Grammy winner and a 10-time Grammy Award nominee.

Gretchen Christopher

Turning 80-years-old this weekend, she’s a multi-million seller songwriter/recording artist and the founder of the American band, The Fleetwoods.

She was just 15-years-old when she wrote her first song, Come Softly for which she arranged the melody for and performed with her then classmates, Gary Troxel and Barbara Ellis at Olympia High School in Olympia in Washington. Troxel and Ellis later became her bandmates in The Fleetwoods.

Born in Washington, US, Gretchen was a teenager when she founded The Fleetwoods. Initially the group named themselves Two Girls 'n' a Guy, but this was changed by their recording label in 1959 and were named after their telephone area prefix, Fleetwood.

Gretchen said on LinkedIn that she initially performed their first song in front of 1500 people at school and it was an immediate hit, "fellow students begged me to record it so they could buy it. I did, on Dad's tape recorder, and took the tape to Seattle record promoter Bob Reisdorff."

Reisdorff went on to form his own recording label, Dolton, and Come Softly became Come Softly To Me. It reached number 1 in the US, selling a million records in 1959.

Gretchen is also known for a number of hits including, Graduation's Here, which she says "Barbara and I'd written for our Olympia High School graduation" that became their second Top 40 Hit, and then there was their third hit with Mr Blue which "also became a million seller Gold Record and we Fleetwoods, were the first group in the world to have two number one records top the Billboard Hot 100 in a single year (1959)."

The last recordings by the original Fleetwoods were in 1965 and in 2007 Gretchen released a new recording of Graduation's Here which she produced for her 2007 autobiographical solo CD, Gretchen's Sweet Sixteen (Suite 16).

Gretchen Christopher on the right with her bandmates, Barbara Ellis and Gary Troxel as The Fleetwoods in 1960.

Dinah Shore

Back in the 20th century, a much loved TV and entertainment personality was hitting the charts in her 30s and 40s. Born as Frances Rose Shore, her hit songs like Buttons and Bows topped the charts in America for 10 weeks.

Dinah also found success when she drew inspiration from her Jewish background with a Yiddish folk song and performed My Darling Daughter. Yiddish is the historical language of the Ashkenazi Jews. This song went on to be introduced on a hit radio show at the time, and Dinah’s song became her first best-selling record. It was an impressive start in her musical career with the first of her nine million-sellers with Blues in the Night (1941).

She was born in Tennessee, USA in 1916 and all throughout World War II Dinah performed for the servicemen around over the world. Her film career as an actress also took off around this time in 1943 and her first movie was a role where she played herself in Thank Your Lucky Stars.

She got a recording deal with Columbia Records in 1946 and was given a song, Shoo-Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy to record which she felt at odds with. But despite how she felt about it, the song was a hit and sold 40,000 copies. Shortly after this triumph followed her three million-sellers with The Gypsy, Doin What Comes Natur'lly and For Sentimental Reasons.

In 1946 the Billboard proclaimed Dinah the top female vocalist and towards the end of her life she was hosting her own talk show. She died of cancer in 1994.

The singer and actress, Dinah Shore, was born in 1910 and died in 1994.

Who else shares a leap year day birthday and a musical career?

2000 Jeneve Mitchell, American country singer

1996 Korede Bello, Nigerian singer and songwriter

1992 Majesty Rose, pop singer

1984 Kiyoe Yoshioka, Japanese singer, known for the Rugby World Cup anthem (2019)

1972 Saul Williams, American singer-songwriter

1972 Steve Hart, singer, producer, formerly in a boy band, Worlds Apart, set up by Simon Cowell

1968 Gareth Farr, composer and percussionist, born in New Zealand

1964 Jahred Shane, Afro-Brazilian rapper/singer

1960 Ian McKenzie Anderson, British musician and record producer

1960 Khaled Hadj Ibrahim, Algerian musician, singer and songwriter

1956 Randy Jackson, rocker (known for the song, Zebra-I Don't Know, I Don't Care)

1944 David Briggs, record producer

1928 Alan Loveday, British violinist, born in New Zealand

1928 McHenry Boatwright, opera singer, American baritone

1920 Ivan Petrov, Russian operatic bass

1904 Alan Richardson, composer

1904 Jimmy Dorsey, orchestra leader (Stage Show)

1884 Alfred Sendrey, composer

1820 Adolf Schimon, composer

1812 Hermann Hirschboch, German composer

1792 Gioacchino Rossini, Italian composer

1696 Esprit Joseph Antoine Blanchard, composer

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