I’ve brought this subject up on the old blog. I don’t think a lot of classic talents would make it on American Idol, though they do seem to be willing to try some different types. Ultimately, they go for a safe style. And these major artists do not fall in that category.
Especially Satchmo, though he really became famous for his trumpet playing. The singing was later.
But I don’t think Ella Fitzgerald or Dinah Washington would cut it despite being two of the great standards singers of all time. Just because they weren’t slim and pretty enough.
Then again, Fantasia won a season.
This is not a statement on the talent, but on the way the music business sees people today. They promote people byu their look more than their talent a lot of the time. Tom Waits is neither handsome or has a good singing voice, but he is an amazing song writer.