Music
2.8k voters

The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time

Updated April 24, 2020 30.0k votes 2.8k voters 42.2k views252 items

List RulesOnly R&B artists. No hip hop, urban contemporary, or soul singers should be on here.

A list of the best R&B artists. Though the definition of the genre has skewed over the years, at the heart of R&B music is rhythm and blues. And the artists who encompass this list are the best the genre has to offer. There are legends, both living and deceased who are on this list. There a good number of rock and roll hall of famers on this list, whose legacy lives on at the Cleveland museum. The beginning of what became to be known as R&B started with the Motown sound of the late 1960s. Under the stewardship of Berry Gordy, many of the most famous artists and singers in music history established themselves during this time. The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross were all a part of the Motown fabric that in time became THE place to be for up-and-coming R&B artists. Many of the greatest R&B groups are from this early, formative period. Sly & the Family Stone, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye among a group of amazing singers, whose careers started during this time.

That is not to say there aren't other great R&B artists from other eras. Prince, Alicia Keys and D'Angelo would be considered some of the best R&B singers whenever they burst onto the scene. The familiar R&B artists on this list should come as a surprise to no one. The odds are you've heard of nearly everyone on here. If not, then you should give them a listen because there's a reason why they're considered the greatest R&B singers of all time. Why would people label them as the top R&B artists? Give them a listen and you'll hear yourself.

This is the list of the best R&B artists. If you notice someone is missing, feel free to add him, her or them to this list. Vote or re-rank this list according to who you think is the greatest R&B artist of all time.

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  • 1
    705
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    Michael Jackson

    Thriller, Bad

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  • 2
    515
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    Marvin Gaye

    What's Going On, Here

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  • 3
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    Stevie Wonder

    Songs in the Key of Life, Innervisions

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  • 4
    468
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    Prince

    Purple Rain, Sign 'O' the Times

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  • 5
    381
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    Whitney Houston

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  • 6
    298
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    The Jackson 5

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  • 7
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    James Brown

    Live at the Apollo, Star Time

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  • 8
    358
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    Aretha Franklin

    Lady Soul, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You

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  • 9
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    Ray Charles

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  • 10
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    The Temptations

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  • 11
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    Luther Vandross

    This Is Christmas, Every Year

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  • 12
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    Al Green

    Call Me, The Christmas Album

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  • 13
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    Sam Cooke

    Night Beat, Shake

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  • 14
    235
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    Mary J. Blige

    Mary, My Life

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  • 15
    224
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    Mariah Carey

    Daydream, Music Box

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  • 16
    270
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    Aaliyah

    Aaliyah, One in a Million

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  • 17
    255
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    Usher

    Confessions, Rhythm City

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  • 18
    290
    163

    Otis Redding

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  • 19
    234
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    Brandy Norwood

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  • 20
    170
    105

    TLC

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  • 21
    193
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    Smokey Robinson

    Warm Thoughts, Where There's Smoke

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  • 22
    243
    115

    The Isley Brothers

    3 + 3 / Go for Your Guns, Body Kiss

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  • 23
    442
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    Frank Ocean

    Channel Orange, nostalgia

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  • 24
    156
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    Patti LaBelle

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  • 25
    221
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    Boyz II Men

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