45 Best R&B Artists Of All Time - Music Grotto (2023)


Since the 1940s, R&B has taken over airwaves and souls with emotional ballads and meaningful lyrics. Throughout the decades, rhythm and blues have evolved to reflect what’s going on in the world and yet still remain relatable.

Some artists belting it out have stood out more than others. Journey along with us as we take the time to go through this list of the 45 best R&B artists of all time, in no particular order.

1. Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin - Respect Official Video Winner

The “Queen of Soul” knew how to belt it better than anyone else. She has been referred to many times as one of the greatest musical artists. She not only sang but also wrote and played the piano. Aretha Franklin sold more than 75 million albums in her lifetime, solidifying her as one of the best-selling musicians in history.

Next: The most powerful and famous female singers of all time

2. Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston - I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Official 4K Video)

Coming from a musical background helped those around Whitney Houston to recognize her abilities at an early age. After her debut in the 80s, it didn’t take long for her to be dubbed “The Voice” due to her amazing vocal range and exceptional talent. Not only is she one of the top-selling R&B artists of all time, with over 200 million albums sold, but she is also rated one of the best singers ever, period.

Next: Greatest power ballads ever played and recorded

3. Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson - Thriller (Official 4K Video)

The “King of Pop” started performing as a young kid after watching his dad work on turning his brothers into a singing group. Michael Jackson was known for more than his voice. He was also a dancer, songwriter, and philanthropist. After having 47 songs on the top 100 list and selling 750 million albums, he is one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century.

Next: The greatest male singers in music history (our complete list)

4. Usher

Usher - Love in This Club (Official Music Video) ft. Young Jeezy

When Usher first hit the scene in the mid-90s, he had already been singing for years. His mother entered him into a singing contest as a preteen. That smooth voice caught the attention of major record executives and the rest was history. To date, he’s sold over 100 million albums, making him one of the most successful recording artists.


5. Donna Summer

Last Dance (12" Version)

The “Queen of Disco” became a hit in the 70s when disco was just starting out. Donna Summer helped catapult the genre above and beyond everyone’s expectations. However, she also dominated R&B charts with her songs. Fans all over the world fell in love with the dance music, which helped her have 14 albums go gold or multi-platinum. Donna also won five Grammys and six American Music Awards.


6. Mariah Carey

Never Too Far

The “Songbird Supreme” has reigned over the R&B and pop charts since her first hit in 1990. Even though she’s had one monster hit after another, Mariah Carey might have reached immortality with the most popular holiday song of all time, “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” The “Queen of Christmas” has gone on to make 15 albums and has sold 220 million copies worldwide.

Next: Best and most popular Christmas songs of all time

7. Diana Ross

You Can't Hurry Love

Diana Ross started her career as the lead singer of the most successful act for Motown Records, The Supremes. After amassing a following, she went on to a solo music career as well as acting. Diana has long been considered one of the 20 greatest R&B artists for her contributions as part of The Supremes and in her own name.

Next: The greatest Motown songs ever recorded and performed

8. Ray Charles

Georgia on My Mind

Not everyone can dabble in various genres and still be a success. Ray Charles pushed back not only on his own music but also on the racial barriers of his time. Once, when performing in Georgia, he canceled a concert because of the treatment of him and his band members. Ray wasn’t one to back down. His talent gave him the nickname, The Genius, which he used to become one of the best R&B artists of all time.

Next: Greatest country singers of all time (our complete list)

(Video) John Legend - All of Me (Official Video)

9. Tina Turner

Tina Turner - What's Love Got To Do With It (Official Music Video)

Starting with the group Kings of Rhythm in the late 50s, it didn’t take long for audiences to notice the real star behind the music. Tina Turner helped them find fans across the globe before breaking out on her own years later. The “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll” became one of the most influential women in music.

Next: The best black female singers in music history (our in-depth list)

10. Barry White

Can't Get Enough Of Your Love Baby

The deepness of Barry White’s voice helped boost him to superstar status in the 70s. He had one hit after another during the peak of the disco era but continued recording new music for four decades. Barry influenced R&B with the topics he wrote about and his smooth style. He sold over 100 million albums.

11. Rihanna

The R&B singer from Barbados had a jolt to her career when successful rapper Jay-Z supported signing her to the record label he was head of. Rihanna’s mega-hit “Umbrella” wasn’t her first single but it was the one that grabbed everyone’s attention in the mid-2000s. Since then, she’s sold over 250 million albums and has become a self-made billionaire through all of her business endeavors.


12. Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys - Girl on Fire (Official Video)

Just as many artists were beginning to dig deep into autotune, Alicia Keys came out with a song that was just her voice, then followed with her piano playing. It was an instant hit that probably was aided by the fact that she was classically trained. Alicia’s immense talent had been evident at a young age since she started composing at 12 and was brought onto a record label at 15. She was the top certified artist of the millennium as a female R&B singer.

Next: The top singers with perfect pitch ever

13. The Weeknd

The Weeknd - Acquainted (Official Audio)

While his Super Bowl performance had more of a pop, high-energy direction, The Weeknd is known for his diverse subject matter. He has explored a multitude of topics for his albums. Having such varied interests is one of the reasons he has such a massive fanbase. The Weeknd’s songwriting is versatile and unique, just as his beats can represent a number of moods.

14. James Brown

James Brown - Sex Machine (Part 1)

When someone asks you how you are, if you’re not tempted to shout, “I feel good,” then you need to get back to your playlist. James Brown left his mark on music after rising to fame in the 50s and continuing his career for six decades. Not only was he into R&B, but he’s viewed as the “Godfather of Funk.”

Next: Greatest 1950s songs list

15. Mary J. Blige

Mary J. Blige - Family Affair (Official Music Video)

Winner of nine Grammys, four American Music Awards, and 10 Billboard Music Awards, Mary J. Blige has easily earned the title “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul.” She has put out 14 albums and sold 75 million copies since stepping on the scene in 1992.

16. Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye - I Heard It Through The Grapevine (Lyric Video)

The 1960s Motown can thank Marvin Gaye for the vibe it had. He started out playing for other musicians that were part of the label. Over time, he branched out onto his own and started his solo career. The “Prince of Motown” earned praise from a variety of other genre artists. Throughout his short-lived career, Marvin recorded 25 albums.


17. Prince

Prince & The Revolution - When Doves Cry (Official Music Video)

Most musicians have one instrument as a specialty. Prince could play several instruments at an expert level. He was also prone to write hit songs, not just for himself but for other artists as well. Prince had a unique stage persona, which was enough to gain him a legion of fans. From that voice to his wild shows, he is viewed as perhaps the greatest of his generation.

18. Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke - What A Wonderful World (Official Lyric Video)

(Video) Top 10 Female R&B Singers

Originally a gospel singer, Sam Cooke took his career to new heights in the late 50s into the R&B and soul genres. Being one of the early innovators in this brand of music, he is considered one of the most influential artists to hit the music scene. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to continue breaking barriers as he should have, but he did leave us with 14 studio albums.

Next: Top soul songs of all time

19. Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie - Hello (Official Music Video)

Telling the ladies everything they wanted to hear is what helped Lionel Richie get noticed. That started when he was the lead singer for the funk band, Commodores. It wasn’t long before he broke out on his own and became one of the most successful artists in music, with over 100 million albums sold and a litany of awards.

20. Stevie Wonder

I Just Called To Say I Love You

Conquering several genres is something only the greats can do. Included on that list is the groundbreaking and talented Stevie Wonder. He does a little bit of everything, singing, songwriting, piano playing, and putting on amazing shows. Stevie has changed R&B, pop, jazz, funk, soul, and gospel forever. Record sales can reflect that, at over 100 million sold.

21. Beyoncé

Beyoncé - Hold Up (Video)

Performing in one way or another since childhood, Beyoncé got her start in the late 90s as part of the girl group, Destiny’s Child. She has since had her name on albums that have sold over 220 million copies. Always trying new things, in 2016, Beyoncé released a visual album by surprise, and the initiative struck a chord with other artists.


22. Patti LaBelle

Patti LaBelle - On My Own ft. MICHAEL MCDONALD

The “Godmother of Soul” was already believed to be a star before she ever hit the stage professionally. Patti LaBelle’s career started when she had a group named after her, Patti LaBelle And The Bluebelles. Eventually, she cut the flowers off and went out on her own. Patti is one of the most well-respected women in the industry.

Next: Top girl groups of all time (girl bands too)

23. Aaliyah

Aaliyah - More Than A Woman (Visualizer)

Fortunate enough to have connections with people who could help her career, Aaliyah’s beautiful voice was sought after at a young age. She attracted the likes of big-named artists to support her endeavors and before long she was making her own music. The “Princess of R&B” wasn’t with us long enough for us to see what she could do, but she did leave us with three albums and a string of top hits.

Next: Full story on how Aaliyah died – true tragedy

24. Etta James

At Last

In 1961, Etta James recorded a song that would be played at weddings probably until the end of time. While “At Last” was a huge hit, it wasn’t her first foray into music. She originally became popular in 1955 during her introduction to the R&B charts. Etta continued to release music until 2011, the year before she departed this earth. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame called her one of the greatest voices of the century.

Next: The greatest female rock singers of all time

25. Otis Redding

Otis Redding - (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay (Official Music Video)

The “King of Soul” was highly regarded as having the best voice in music as well as being the best R&B singer. He was another that was gone too soon, but his soulful sound lives on through six studio albums.

26. Jason Derulo

Jason Derulo - Talk Dirty feat. 2 Chainz [Official HD Music Video]

Starting a music career during the transition of the industry has changed the metrics of what’s successful. In an era where album sales aren’t what they used to be, Jason Derulo has sold over 30 million copies of his singles, 11 of which have reached platinum status.

27. Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton - He Wasn't Man Enough (Video Version)

(Video) Young talents, OLD SOULS | The Voice Best Blind Auditions

In the 90s, Toni Braxton was everywhere. She is one of the top-selling female artists of all time. Toni has won seven Grammys, nine Billboard Awards, seven American Music Awards, and many others. Her songs about heartbreak, sexual tension, and empowerment remain as popular as her sultry voice.

28. Keith Sweat

Keith Sweat - Twisted (Official Music Video)

When it comes to collectively enticing a generation of young women, Keith Sweat knew exactly what he was doing. His self-titled album went quadruple platinum. In total, Keith has released 13 studio albums, even contributing to a new genre called new jack swing.

Next: Greatest sexual energy songs (our sex-fueled playlist)

29. Luther Vandross

Never Too Much

Once a backup singer for several hit-makers, it wasn’t until the early 80s that Luther Vandross was able to get his own album going. His talent helped make his first single a quick chart-topper. For the next two decades, he continued putting out silky love songs that kept the R&B stations busy.

30. Ginuwine

Ginuwine - So Anxious

Starting his career as part of the group Swing Mob, Ginuwine got the attention of record execs who wanted to take him solo. His appeal to the female audience helped him get noticed by hoards of fans. Ginuwine has had several albums go either gold or platinum.

31. Ciara

Ciara - Level Up

In 2004, Ciara released her first of seven albums so far. The first album was certified triple platinum. In the years since she introduced herself to the public, she has been known for collaborating often with other artists and musicians in other genres. Across seven albums, in singles alone, Ciara has sold 22 million copies.

32. Mýa

Mya - Free

A larger audience got to get a glimpse at the super talented R&B singer when she participated in the remake of the popular song “Lady Marmalade” in 2001. However, Mýa had been in a league of her own for years beforehand. In total, she has released eight studio albums and was voted in the top 100 best artists of the 2000s.

33. Teddy Pendergrass

It Don't Hurt Now

Starting in 1971, Teddy Pendergrass released 14 albums and was nominated for five Grammys. Essentially, he was coming out with one hit after the other. Before his solo fame, Teddy was part of a group called Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes. He grew a supportive and lifelong friendship with a singer who was in a similar-sounding band, Patti LaBelle.

34. Al Green

Al Green - Let's Stay Together (Official Audio)

It’s not every day you hear about a pastor who becomes one of the most notable artists to hit the stage. He went beyond gospel to bring his soul sound to R&B, starting in 1967. Al Green is now part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his years of contributions to music.

35. Smokey Robinson

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - The Tears Of A Clown (Lyric Video)

Getting his start with the music group, The Miracles, Smokey Robinson used his time to beef up his skills. He was the principal songwriter and did much of the producing during the group’s tenure. Motown used his sweet sounds to appeal to the ladies, which earned him six gold records.

Next: The best boy bands ever

36. Ne-Yo

Ne-Yo - Miss Independent

Being one of the most well-known entertainers in R&B, Ne-Yo puts in the work. Not only does he sing the songs he writes, but he has also become admired for his dancing and acting. In fact, he writes hits for several other artists in the business as well. Out of 14 Grammy nominations, he’s taken home the award three times.

37. Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson - Escapade

(Video) Peabo Bryson - Can You Stop the Rain

Not many worldwide musical sensations start out as childhood actresses. But Janet Jackson has always forged her own path. From elaborate shows to sexually charged singles, she continues to push the boundaries of R&B and music in general. To date, she’s sold over 160 million albums.


38. Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu - Didn't Cha Know

When your style is so unique that it requires a new association, you know what has been created is something legit. That’s the story of Erykah Badu, whose music is also attributed to the neo-soul category. Her work in the 90s and 2000s made her a well-known figure throughout R&B, as has her collaborations and acting.

39. Sisqó

Sisqo - Thong Song (Official Music Video)

Before shooting to fame at the turn of the century, Sisqó was part of a group called Dru Hill. The R&B singer was propelled into the limelight through a venture working with Will Smith. After recording the lines for “Wild Wild West,” Sisqó unleashed his first solo album. His first single “The Thong Song” was such a massive hit that he eventually refused to continue playing it.

40. Monica

Monica - Street Symphony (Official Video)

Traveling with a gospel choir at 10 helped set Monica apart from her peers. Since joining the R&B scene in 1993, she has been known as one of the most successful urban singers of the late 90s. Monica is also the youngest musical act to have two songs on the R&B and Singles charts at the same time. She’s also noted as being the first female R&B artist to enjoy success on the Billboard charts over three back-to-back decades.

41. Brandy

Brandy - Sittin' Up in My Room (Official Video)

Due to her layering technique, Brandy has been dubbed the “Vocal Bible.” It probably helps that she performed solos at church as young as two years old. After much success through competitions, she was offered work as a backup singer in the early 90s. She is both a singer and actress simultaneously. So far, Brandy has made seven studio albums.

42. Maxwell

Maxwell - Pretty Wings (Official Video)

One of the few performers to play multiple instruments, Maxwell was born to stand out. Not only is his R&B career flourished since the 90s, but he also started and contributed heavily to the neo-soul movement. Maxwell has three Grammys under his belt, six Soul Train Awards, and two NAACP Image Awards.

43. Bill Withers

Ain´T No Sunshine

For almost two decades, Bill Withers wrote and sang a multitude of hits. In the 70s, there was no one who came close to his style and talent. Today, he’s part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Some might even say he’s the best thing to come out of his home state since he was voted the Best Musical Artist From West Virginia, and they even named a road after him.

44. Chaka Khan

I Feel for You

Very rarely can any artist say that their career was five decades long. However, Chaka Khan has adapted to the ebbs and flows of the genre to continue making classics. Of course, she had no idea what magical career awaited when she joined the funk group Rufus in the 70s. She has earned 10 Grammys and has sold over 70 million copies of her albums.

45. Curtis Mayfield

Curtis Mayfield - Pusherman (Official Audio)

Curtis Mayfield has been called the soul behind African American music. He played guitar, wrote poignant songs, and produced several albums. This came after he was part of The Impressions in the 50s. After being paralyzed from the neck down in 1990, Curtis continued making music for years. He was inducted into four different halls of fame for both his work with The Impressions and as a solo artist.

Liam Flynn( Head Editor & Writer )

As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.

Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.

(Video) Mario - Let Me Love You (Official Video)


45 Best R&B Artists Of All Time - Music Grotto? ›

1. Michael Jackson. A dynamic force as the pre-teen frontman of chart-topping family group The Jackson 5, Michael Jackson moonwalked his way into solo superstardom. More than 30 years after its debut, the singer/songwriter's multi-platinum Thriller remains one of the best-selling albums of all time.

Who's the greatest R&B singer of all time? ›

1. Michael Jackson. A dynamic force as the pre-teen frontman of chart-topping family group The Jackson 5, Michael Jackson moonwalked his way into solo superstardom. More than 30 years after its debut, the singer/songwriter's multi-platinum Thriller remains one of the best-selling albums of all time.

Who is the queen of R&B soul? ›

American singer Ruth Brown has been referred to as the "Queen of R&B".

Who were the R&B artists in the 40s? ›

Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” released a number of hits that supported black consciousness and the “movement.” Some early contributors include Louis Jordan, Ray Charles, Joseph Vernon “Big Joe” Turner, Dinah Washington, Charles Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ruth Brown, Antoine “Fats” Domino, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, ...

Who was the king of R&B in the 80s? ›

Bobby Brown was the king in the '80s because he changed the image and sound of R&B.

Who is the greatest male soul singer? ›

Final Results! Greatest Male Soul Singers of All Time
1Marvin Gaye
2Luther Vandross
3Stevie Wonder
4Sam Cooke
5Teddy Pendergrass
5 more rows

Who is the king of R&B song? ›

Usher dished in a new radio interview this week about his musical legacy and being crowned the “King of R&B” by his fans.

Who is the mother of R&B? ›

Sylvia Robinson
BornMay 29, 1935 Harlem, New York, U.S.
OriginEnglewood, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedSeptember 29, 2011 (aged 76) Secaucus, New Jersey, U.S.
GenresBlues R&B rock soul funk disco hip hop
8 more rows

Who is the most successful R&B female singer? ›

1 Billboard R&B singles, and over 75 million records sold, Aretha Franklin was without question "The Queen of Soul." She recorded for over 50 years and had 100 entries on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, more than any other female artist.

Which singer was known as the King of Soul? ›

James Brown set the standard for dynamic live performance in American music. Inspired by preachers in the Black church, Brown started out singing in gospel quartets.

Who was the first black R&B singer? ›

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: In 1890, George W. Johnson, a former slave, became the first African-American musician to make commercial records. During his short but successful singing career, Johnson sold thousands of recordings.

Who was the first famous R&B singer? ›

R&B Music came into prominence in the late 1940s with Cab Calloway, The Harlem Hamfats, Count Basie, Louis Jordan and others. "The term Rhythm & Blues" (R&B) was first coined in 1948 by music journalist turned record producer Jerry Wexler.

Who was the first person to sing R&B? ›

The Rise of R&B

One of the genre's earliest practitioners, bandleader and saxophonist Louis Jordan — who also co-composed the 1944 hit song “Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby” — used elements that would come to define R&B. These included the shuffle rhythm, boogie-woogie bass lines, and short horn patterns or riffs.

Who is the father of R&B? ›

American saxophonist Louis Jordan, also known as the “Father of R&B” was one of the chief architects and prime progenitors of the R&B lexicon. Learn more about his contributions to the genre in this thread.

What was the first R&B hit? ›

Also in 1951, the song Rocket 88 was recorded by Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm at a studio owned by Sam Phillips with the vocal by Jackie Brenston. This song is often cited as a precursor to rock and roll or as one of the first records in that genre.

What was the golden age of R&B? ›

There's no arguing that the 90s is the golden age of R&B. The best 90s R&B songs still sound fresh, and their influence can be felt in the crop of modern R&B stars who are pushing the genre forward.

Who is the best male singer ever lived? ›

The 20 best male singers of all time, ranked in order of pure...
  • Al Green. ...
  • Sam Cooke. ...
  • Otis Redding. ...
  • Frank Sinatra. ...
  • Nat King Cole. ...
  • Michael Jackson. ...
  • George Michael. ...
  • Freddie Mercury. Queen - We Are the Champions (Live Aid, Wembley Stadium, 1985)
Jan 3, 2023

Who is the best black male singer of all time? ›

19 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Black Male Singers Of All Time
  • Stevie Wonder.
  • Prince.
  • James Brown.
  • Marvin Gaye.
  • Lionel Richie.
  • Ray Charles.
  • Smokey Robinson.
  • Snoop Dogg.
Jan 10, 2023

What R&B artist has sold the most records? ›

Aretha Franklin sold more than 75 million albums in her lifetime, solidifying her as one of the best-selling musicians in history.

Who won favorite male R&B artist? ›

American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist
American Music Awards for Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist
Presented byAmerican Music Awards
First awarded1974
Last awarded2022
Currently held byChris Brown
4 more rows

Who made R&B popular? ›

James Brown and Aretha Franklin.

Who has the most number 1 R&B songs? ›

Most number-one singles
Number of singlesArtist
20Aretha Franklin
Stevie Wonder
17James Brown
5 more rows

What race started R&B music? ›

Though it began as a general term for African American music, the synthesis of styles that became what is now called rhythm and blues caught on among a wide youth audience during the post war period and contributed to changing the racial divide in American society and music of the mid-twentieth century.

What is the birthplace of R&B? ›

Vail Jazz: New Orleans was the birthplace of funk and R&B in addition to jazz. Henry Roeland “Roy” Byrd, known as “Professor Longhair” or “Fess” for short, invented the distinctive beat found in many early R&B songs. He influenced artists like Fats Domino, Dr.

Who is the greatest female singer of all time? ›

1. Aretha Franklin. Aretha Franklin is often credited as one of the greatest female vocalists of all time. Her ability to transcend genres and styles, such as rock, gospel, soul and jazz, has earned her the title of “Queen of Soul” and the number one spot on this list.

Who is the best female soul singer of all time? ›

Topping our list of the best female soul singers of all time, Aretha Franklin is soul royalty, indeed.

Who is the queen of R&B now? ›

Often referred to as the "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul" and "Queen of R&B", Blige has won nine Grammy Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, four American Music Awards, twelve NAACP Image Awards, and twelve Billboard Music Awards, including the Billboard Icon Award.

What musician sold his soul to the devil? ›

Robert Johnson stands at the crossroads of American music, much as it is rumored that he once stood at a Mississippi crossroads and sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his unique musical gifts.

Who is the black king of soul? ›

The music genre's of R&B and Soul emerged in the 60's and 70's and along with it came Marvin Gaye, he is known to be the King of soul and Motown.

Who is known as Queen of Soul music? ›

The National Museum of African American History and Culture mourns the passing of Aretha Franklin, the "Queen of Soul." Her voice, one of the most captivating of her generation, was unrivaled and changed the landscape of American music.

Who is the best blue eyed soul singer? ›

Blue-Eyed Soul Artists
  • Sam Smith & Normani. 23,800 listeners. ...
  • Roy Head & The Traits. 27,478 listeners. ...
  • Nathaniel Rateliff The Night Sweats. 6,540 listeners. ...
  • Roy Head. 12,777 listeners. ...
  • Dynamic Hepnotics. 4,713 listeners. ...
  • Rockmelons. 4,128 listeners. ...
  • Super db. 2,663 listeners. ...
  • Seth Power. 3,239 listeners.

Who is the most famous African American singer? ›

Aretha Franklin

Perhaps best known for the hit song “Respect,” Aretha Franklin was one of the most popular singers of the 1960s and came to be known as the “Queen of Soul.” Although she also wrote songs and played the piano, Franklin is perhaps best remembered for her powerful, energetic voice.

Who is the white singer that people think is Black? ›

Elvis was famously thought to be Black when radio stations first played "That's All Right Mama," and Buddy Holly and the Crickets were booked at the Apollo before anyone realized they were three white guys from Lubbock.

Who was the king of R&B in the 90s? ›

During his recording career, Kelly sold over 75 million records worldwide, making him the most commercially successful male R&B artist of the 1990s and one of the world's best-selling music artists.

Who was the most important R&B artist of the 1940S? ›


Pioneer Louis Jordan and his band Tympany Five dominated the R&B charts at the time. Jordan was an American saxophonist, singer, and songwriter who played jump blues – a swinging up-tempo mix of jazz and blues, and a precursor of modern R&B.

Who was the first female R&B group? ›

Klymaxx - The all-girl band, formed in Los Angeles, California by Bernadette Cooper, was the first of its kind — women playing every instrument, writing lyrics, singing hooks and talking a whole lot of trash.

Who was the very first song? ›

The earliest fragment of musical notation is found on a 4,000-year-old Sumerian clay tablet, which includes instructions and tunings for a hymn honoring the ruler Lipit-Ishtar. But for the title of oldest extant song, most historians point to “Hurrian Hymn No.

What was the first R&B hip-hop song? ›

The Sugar Hill Gang's 12-inch single "Rapper's Delight" - released in 1979 - became the first rap song to be played on the radio. The 15-minute song was edited down to six and a half minutes and reached Number 36 on the pop charts, making it the first hip-hop single to become a Top 40 chart hit.

Who was the first singer to record the song? ›

An anonymous vocalist sings "Au Clair De La Lune" to Parisian inventor Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville, who makes the first known and oldest surviving recording of the human voice.

Who created hip hop and R&B? ›

DJ Kool Herc formally established the genre on Aug. 11, 1973, at his sister's graduation party in the Bronx; while mixing tracks on the spot, Herc would provide spoken word over that tracks that later evolved into what rap is today.

Who was one of the first great R&B groups? ›

R&B music is rooted in the classic vocal groups of the 1950s, which led to the tremendous success of Motown Records in the 1960s with The Temptations, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and The Jackson Five.

Which came first soul or R&B? ›

Soul is a gospel-influenced African American popular music style that evolved out of rhythm and blues in urban areas beginning in the late 1950s.

Who invented soul music? ›

Sam Cooke. His soaring vocals and importance as a musician earned Cooke the nickname the King of Soul. He is cited as the inventor of the genre and credited with bringing gospel music to popular attention.

What was the number one R&B song from the 1950s? ›

Chart history

Roy Brown topped the best sellers chart with "Hard Luck Blues".

What was the best decade of R&B? ›

For many Millennials, the 90s was the best decade for R&B. There's a reason why that meme “If the love don't feel like 90s R&B, then I don't want it” stays in circulation.

What was the best decade of hip-hop? ›

While the 1980s were classed as the “birth” of hip-hop, the 1990s were when it really started to find its feet. This decade saw the rise of hundreds of rappers and songs that are now considered classics.

Who was the first generation hip-hop? ›

The first major hip-hop deejay was DJ Kool Herc (Clive Campbell), an 18-year-old immigrant who introduced the huge sound systems of his native Jamaica to inner-city parties. Using two turntables, he melded percussive fragments from older records with popular dance songs to create a continuous flow of music.

Who are the top 5 R&B singers? ›

Journey along with us as we take the time to go through this list of the 45 best R&B artists of all time, in no particular order.
  • Aretha Franklin. Aretha Franklin - Respect Official Video Winner. ...
  • Whitney Houston. ...
  • Michael Jackson. ...
  • Usher. ...
  • Donna Summer. ...
  • Stevie Wonder. ...
  • Beyoncé ...
  • Patti LaBelle.
Jan 27, 2023

Who has the most number 1 R&B hits? ›

Most number-one singles
Number of singlesArtist
20Aretha Franklin
Stevie Wonder
17James Brown
5 more rows

Who is ranked the greatest singer of all time? ›

Aretha Franklin

Who is the king of R&B in the 90s? ›

During his recording career, Kelly sold over 75 million records worldwide, making him the most commercially successful male R&B artist of the 1990s and one of the world's best-selling music artists.

Who are the most famous black singers? ›

28 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Black Singers Of All Time
  • Aretha Franklin.
  • Prince.
  • Whitney Houston.
  • Michael Jackson.
  • Rihanna.
  • Marvin Gaye.
  • Beyoncé
  • Jimi Hendrix.
Jan 11, 2023

Who is the famous black singer with a raspy voice? ›

Natalie Renée McIntyre (born September 6, 1967), known by her stage name Macy Gray, is an American R&B and soul singer and actress. She is known for her distinctive raspy voice and a singing style heavily influenced by Billie Holiday.

Who is the No 1 singer in America? ›

Justin Bieber has spent 163 weeks at number one on the Billboard Social 50. Taylor Swift have spent 28 weeks at number one, the most by any female artist.

Who is the best black female singer in the world? ›

19 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Black Female Singers Of All...
  • Whitney Houston.
  • Aretha Franklin.
  • Beyoncé
  • Toni Braxton.
  • Mariah Carey.
  • Ella Fitzgerald.
  • Chaka Khan.
  • Diana Ross.
Dec 30, 2022

What is the #1 song of all time? ›

1 Billboard Hot 100 Song of All Time | Billboard News. The Weeknd's “Blinding Lights” is the new No. 1 song on Billboard's Greatest Songs of All Time Hot 100 Chart. It's replacing Chubby Checker's “The Twist”.

What is the #1 most popular song of all time? ›

According to Guinness World Records, Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" (1942) as performed by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single worldwide, with estimated sales of over 50 million copies.

What R&B group sold the most records? ›

Since the early 1990s, Boyz II Men has firmly established itself as the most successful R&B group of all time with four GRAMMY Awards, five No. 1 Hits, 50 weeks at No. 1, and 60 million albums sold – and counting.

What singer has the best voice? ›

Aretha Franklin

The Queen of Soul was unrivalled for decades when it came to having the best singing voice on the planet. Using her gospel background to her advantage, Aretha had such an incredibly powerful and passionate voice. Even 50 years after her debut, she brought audiences to tears with her performances.

Who has the best male voice of all time? ›

The 20 best male singers of all time, ranked in order of pure...
  • Al Green. ...
  • Sam Cooke. ...
  • Otis Redding. ...
  • Frank Sinatra. ...
  • Nat King Cole. ...
  • Michael Jackson. ...
  • George Michael. ...
  • Freddie Mercury. Queen - We Are the Champions (Live Aid, Wembley Stadium, 1985)
Jan 3, 2023

Who has the greatest female voice of all time? ›

1. Aretha Franklin. Aretha Franklin is often credited as one of the greatest female vocalists of all time. Her ability to transcend genres and styles, such as rock, gospel, soul and jazz, has earned her the title of “Queen of Soul” and the number one spot on this list.


1. Motown Greatest Hits Collection - Best Motown Songs Of All Time
(Sweet Memories)
2. Jennifer Lopez - All I Have (Official HD Video) ft. LL Cool J
(Jennifer Lopez)
3. TLC - Waterfalls (Official HD Video)
4. Mario - Thinkin' About You
5. Carole King - It's Too Late (Official Audio)
(Carole King)
6. H.E.R. - Damage (Official Video)


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