Music

The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time  

Ranker Music
8.2k votes 664 voters 6.2k views 100 items

List Rules Vote up the artists who best exemplify the Motown Sound.

Nobody blends soul, R&B, and pop music quite like the best Motown artists of all-time. Founded by Berry Gordy Jr. in 1959, Motown Records is home to many music legends, like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Gladys Knight. This list of Motown bands, groups, and singers also includes artists who were never signed to the label, but their music became synonymous with the "Motown Sound." Who are the most popular Motown artists?  

Vote up the best Motown musicians, and add your favorites if they deserve to be on this list. Even though they signed with Motown Records, don't expect to see Migos here since their music isn't classified as "Motown Sound."

list ordered by
1
The Temptations is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite The Temptations albums here!

The Temptations are an American vocal group known for their success with Motown Records during the 1960s and 1970s. Known for their choreography, distinct harmonies, and flashy wardrobe, the ...more
2
Marvin Gaye is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite Marvin Gaye albums here!

Marvin Gaye was an American singer, songwriter and musician. Gaye helped to shape the sound of Motown Records, first as an in house session player in the 1960s and later as a solo artist with a ...more
3
Smokey Robinson is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite Smokey Robinson albums here!

William "Smokey" Robinson, Jr. is an American R&B/pop singer-songwriter, record producer, and former record executive. Robinson was the founder and front man of the Motown vocal ...more
4
Stevie Wonder is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite Stevie Wonder songs here!

Stevland Hardaway Morris, known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist. A child prodigy, he has become one of ...more
5
Aretha Franklin is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite Aretha Franklin albums here!

Aretha Louise Franklin was an American singer and songwriter. She began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, where her father, C. L. Franklin, was ...more
6
Sam Cooke is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
Samuel "Sam" Cooke was an American recording artist and singer-songwriter, generally considered among the greatest of all time. Influential as both a singer and composer, he is ...more
7
James Brown is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite James Brown albums here!

James Joseph Brown (May 3, 1933 – December 25, 2006) was an American singer-songwriter, dancer, musician, record producer and bandleader. A progenitor of funk music and a major figure of ...more
8
The Jackson 5 is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite Jackson 5 albums here!

The Jackson 5 are an American popular music family group from Gary, Indiana. Formed in 1964 under the name The Jackson Brothers, the founding members were Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine. Marlon and ...more
9
Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
Ray Charles Robinson, professionally known as Ray Charles, was an American singer, songwriter, musician and composer, who is sometimes referred to as "The Genius". He pioneered the ...more
10
Curtis Mayfield is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
Curtis Lee Mayfield was an African American soul, R&B, and funk singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer, who was one of the most influential musicians behind soul and politically ...more
11
Michael Jackson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite Michael Jackson albums here!

Michael Joseph Jackson was an American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and actor. Called the King of Pop, his contributions to music and dance, along with his publicized personal ...more
12
Al Green is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite Al Green albums here!

Albert "Al" Greene, often known as The Reverend Al Green, is an American singer best known for recording a series of soul hit singles in the early 1970s, including "Tired of Being ...more
13
Gladys Knight & the Pips is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
Gladys Knight & The Pips were an R&B/soul family musical act from Atlanta, Georgia, active from 1953 to 1989. The group was best known for their string of hit singles on Motown's ...more
14
Barry White is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
Barry White, was an American composer and singer-songwriter. A 3-time Grammy Award-winner known for his distinctive bass-baritone voice and romantic image, White's greatest success came in the ...more
15
The Supremes is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite The Supremes albums here!

The Supremes were an American female singing group and the premier act of Motown Records during the 1960s. Founded as the Primettes in Detroit, Michigan, in 1959, the Supremes were the most ...more
16
The Isley Brothers is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite The Isley Brothers albums here!

The Isley Brothers are an American musical group originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, originally a vocal trio consisting of brothers O'Kelly Isley, Jr., Rudolph Isley and Ronald Isley. The group ...more
17
Otis Redding is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite Otis Redding albums here!

Otis Ray Redding, Jr. was an American singer-songwriter, record producer, arranger and talent scout. He is considered one of the greatest singers in the history of American popular music and a ...more
18
The Spinners is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
The Spinners are an American soul music vocal group, active for over 50 years, who enjoyed a string a major hit singles and albums during the 1970s. The group, originating from Detroit, still ...more
19
Four Tops is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
The Four Tops are an American vocal quartet from Detroit, Michigan who helped to define the city's Motown sound of the 1960s. The group's repertoire has included soul music, R&B, disco, ...more
20
David Ruffin is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
Davis Eli "David" Ruffin was an American soul singer and musician most famous for his work as one of the lead singers of The Temptations during the group's "Classic Five" ...more
21
Luther Vandross is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
Luther Ronzoni Vandross, Jr. was an American singer, songwriter and record producer. Throughout his career, Vandross was an in demand background vocalist for several different artists including ...more
22
Eddie Kendricks is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
Edward James Kendrick, best known by the stage name Eddie Kendricks, was an American singer and songwriter. Noted for his distinctive falsetto singing style, Kendricks co-founded the Motown ...more
23
Commodores is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite Commodores albums here!

The Commodores are an American funk/soul band, which was at its peak in the late 1970s through the mid 1980s. The members of the group met as mostly freshmen at Tuskegee Institute in 1968, and ...more
24
Tina Turner is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite Tina Turner albums here!

Anna Mae Bullock, known by her stage name Tina Turner, is a singer, dancer, actress, and author, whose career has spanned more than half a century, earning her widespread recognition and ...more
25
Tammi Terrell is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
Tammi Terrell was an American recording artist, best known as a star singer for Motown Records during the 1960s, most notably for a series of duets with singer Marvin Gaye. Terrell's career ...more