Music

The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time 

Ranker Music
Updated October 3, 2019 11.6k votes 986 voters 11.8k 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
Marvin Gaye is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite Marvin Gaye albums here!

Marvin Gaye (born Marvin Pentz Gay Jr.; April 2, 1939 – April 1, 1984) was an American singer, songwriter, and record producer. He helped to shape the sound of Motown in the 1960s, first as an ...more

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#91 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #130 of 191 The Greatest Male Pop Singers of All Time The Best Marvin Gaye Albums of All Time

2
The Temptations is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite The Temptations albums here!

The Temptations are an American vocal group who released a series of successful singles and albums with Motown Records during the 1960s and 1970s. The group's work with producer Norman ...more

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#200 of 333 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands #80 of 277 Rank the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Inductees The Best Temptations Albums of All Time

3
Stevie Wonder is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite Stevie Wonder songs here!

Stevland Hardaway Morris (born May 13, 1950), better known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. A prominent figure in popular music, ...more

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#116 of 274 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World #8 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time The Best Stevie Wonder Songs of All Time

4
Smokey Robinson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite Smokey Robinson albums here!

William "Smokey" Robinson Jr. (born February 19, 1940) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and former record executive. Robinson was the founder and frontman of the ...more

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#40 of 303 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters #57 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists The Best Smokey Robinson Albums of All Time

5
Aretha Franklin is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

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Aretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018) was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist. Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel at New ...more

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#12 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #74 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive You Will R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Aretha Franklin Even More When You Hear About Her Remarkable Life

6
The Jackson 5 is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

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The Jackson 5 (stylized as the Jackson 5ive), later known as the Jacksons, were an American pop band composed of members of the Jackson family. The group was founded in 1964 in Gary, Indiana by ...more

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#130 of 2,179 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #155 of 277 Rank the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Inductees The Best Jackson 5 Albums of All Time

7
Sam Cooke is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
Samuel Cook (January 22, 1931 – December 11, 1964), known professionally as Sam Cooke, was an American singer, songwriter, civil-rights activist and entrepreneur. Influential as both a singer ...more

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#62 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists #54 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time Rising Soul Singer Sam Cooke Perished Under Mysterious Circumstances In 1964 And The Case Is Still Unsolved

8
James Brown is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

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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

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#69 of 695 The Best Rock Vocalists #119 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years The Best James Brown Albums of All Time

9
Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004), professionally known as simply Ray Charles, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and composer. Among friends and fellow ...more

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#96 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #23 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time The Best Ray Charles Albums of All Time

10
Michael Jackson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

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Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer, songwriter, and dancer. Dubbed the "King of Pop", he is regarded as one of the most significant ...more

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#9 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #2 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time The Best Michael Jackson Songs of All Time

11
Curtis Mayfield is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
Curtis Lee Mayfield (June 3, 1942 – December 26, 1999) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer, and one of the most influential musicians behind soul and politically ...more

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#437 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #143 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time The Best Curtis Mayfield Albums of All Time

12
Al Green is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

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Albert Leornes Greene (born April 13, 1946), often known as The Reverend Al Green, is an American singer, songwriter and record producer, best known for recording a series of soul hit singles in ...more

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#24 of 303 The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters #189 of 1,042 The Best Singers of All Time The Best Al Green Albums of All Time

13
Gladys Knight & the ... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
Gladys Knight & the Pips
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

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14
Otis Redding is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

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Otis Ray Redding Jr. (September 9, 1941 – December 10, 1967) was an American singer, songwriter, record producer, arranger, and talent scout. He is considered one of the greatest singers in the ...more

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#232 of 398 The Best Frontmen in Rock #58 of 191 The Greatest Male Pop Singers of All Time The Best Otis Redding Albums of All Time

15
The Isley Brothers is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
16
The Supremes is listed (or ranked) 16 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 a premier act of Motown Records during the 1960s. Founded as The Primettes in Detroit, Michigan, in 1959, the Supremes were the most ...more

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#36 of 156 The Greatest Chick Rock Bands Ever #77 of 133 Bands Or Artists With Five Great Albums The Best Supremes Albums of All Time

17
Four Tops is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
The Four Tops are a vocal quartet from Detroit, Michigan, USA, who helped to define the city's Motown sound of the 1960s. The group's repertoire has included soul music, R&B, disco, adult ...more

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#88 of 2,179 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #79 of 277 Rank the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Inductees #67 of 344 The Greatest American Rock Bands

18
Barry White is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
Barry Eugene Carter (September 12, 1944 – July 4, 2003), better known by his stage name Barry White, was an American singer-songwriter, musician, record producer and composer. A three-time ...more

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#285 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #34 of 191 The Greatest Male Pop Singers of All Time The Best Barry White Albums of All Time

19
The Spinners is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
The Spinners are an American rhythm and blues vocal group that formed in Ferndale, Michigan, in 1954. They enjoyed a string of hit singles and albums during the 1960s and 1970s, particularly ...more

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#78 of 285 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame #19 of 133 The Best Musical Artists From Michigan The Best Spinners Albums of All Time

20
David Ruffin is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
David Eli Ruffin (born Davis Eli Ruffin, January 18, 1941 – June 1, 1991) was an American soul singer and musician most famous for his work as one of the lead singers of The Temptations ...more
21
Luther Vandross is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
Luther Vandross Jr. (April 20, 1951 – July 1, 2005) was an American singer, songwriter and record producer. Throughout his career, Vandross was an in-demand background vocalist for several ...more

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#68 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #396 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive The Best Luther Vandross Albums of All Time

22
Commodores is listed (or ranked) 22 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

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#105 of 285 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame #305 of 2,179 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

23
Eddie Kendricks is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time
Edward James Kendrick (December 17, 1939 – October 5, 1992), best known by the stage name Eddie Kendricks, was an American singer and songwriter. Noted for his distinctive falsetto singing ...more

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24
Diana Ross is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite Diana Ross albums here!

Diana Ross (born March 26, 1944) is an American singer, actress, and record producer. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Ross rose to fame as the lead singer of the vocal group the Supremes, ...more

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25
Tina Turner is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Motown Artists Of All-Time

Rank your favorite Tina Turner albums here!

Tina Turner (born Anna Mae Bullock, November 26, 1939) is an internationally recognized singer, songwriter, and actress. She is originally from the United States, and has been a Swiss citizen ...more

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#19 of 935 The Best Female Vocalists Ever #26 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years The Best Tina Turner Songs