Guides, handbooks, and bibliographies provide an excellent introduction to literature on various topics. To find them search discoverE for your topic along with words such as:
Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. The highly respected Baker's covers groups as well as individuals. Of special interest are the indexes by nationality and genre (actually by historical period for people in art music) and the index listing women composers and musicians. Gale Biography in Context supplies some of the content, but omits the bibliographies and works lists from the print version's articles, and inexplicably lacks some articles entirely.
MUSICMEDIA REFERENCE ML105 .B16 2001
Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World. Ed. by John Shepherd et al. New York: Continuum, 2003– . 9 vols. (Later volumes are titled Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World.)