2.8k voters

The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time

Updated April 24, 2020 29.9k votes 2.8k voters 42.8k 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.

  • 26

    Frank Ocean

    Channel Orange, nostalgia

    Genres (Music)Alternative hip hop, Contemporary R&B, Pop

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  • 27

    Chris Brown

    Exclusive, F.A.M.E.

    Genres (Music)Contemporary R&B, Hip hop, Pop

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  • 28

    B.B. King

    Let the Good Times Roll, Live at the Regal

    Genres (Music)Blues-rock, Soul blues, Rock music, Memphis blues, Electric blues

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  • 29

    Toni Braxton

    Snowflakes, Secrets

    Genres (Music)Hip hop music, Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Dance-pop, Contemporary R&B

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  • 30

    Alicia Keys

    Remixed & Unplugged in A minor, As I Am

    Genres (Music)Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul, Electronic music, Contemporary R&B

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  • 31

    Chaka Khan

    Ask Rufus, Come 2 My House

    Genres (Music)Hip hop music, Adult contemporary music, Disco, Pop music, Rock music

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  • 32

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  • 33

    Barry White

    Can't Get Enough, Una serata con

    Genres (Music)Disco, Rhythm and blues, Soul music, Funk

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  • 34

    Lionel Richie

    Can't Slow Down, Tuskegee

    Genres (Music)Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rock music, Contemporary R&B, Quiet storm

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  • 35

    Beyoncé Knowles

    Dangerously in Love, 4

    Genres (Music)R&B, Pop, Hip hop

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  • 36

    Lauryn Hill

    The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, MTV Unplugged 2.0

    Genres (Music)Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Neo soul, Folk music, Reggae

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  • 37

    The Weeknd

    Kiss Land, House of Balloons

    Genres (Music)Contemporary R&B, Hip hop, Pop

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  • 38
  • 39

    The Supremes

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    Genres (Music)Girl group, Doo-wop, Psychedelic soul, Disco, Pop music

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  • 40

    Donny Hathaway

    Extension of a Man, Donny Hathaway

    Genres (Music)Blues-rock, Pop music, Chicago soul, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

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    #163 of 190 Rock Stars Whose Deaths Were The Most Untimely#45 of 100 The Greatest Motown Artists Of All Time

  • 41

    Etta James

    At Last!, Tell Mama

    Genres (Music)Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll, Jazz, Soul music

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  • 42

    The O'Jays

    Ship Ahoy, Love Songs

    Genres (Music)Philadelphia soul, Disco, Quiet storm, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

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  • 43

    Sly & the Family Stone

    There's a Riot Goin' On, Stand!

    Genres (Music)Psychedelic soul, Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Pop rock, Soul music

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  • 44


    Commodores, Midnight Magic

    Genres (Music)Disco, Rhythm and blues, Soul music, Funk

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    #331 of 1,728 The Best Rock Bands Of All Time#235 of 279 The Greatest American Rock Bands

  • 45

    Destiny's Child

    8 Days of Christmas, The Writing's on the Wall

    Genres (Music)Urban contemporary, Girl group, Hip hop music, Neo soul, Dance-pop

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  • 46


    Now, MTV Unplugged

    Genres (Music)Neo soul, Contemporary R&B, Quiet storm, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

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  • 47

    Diana Ross

    Christmas in Vienna, Diana

    Genres (Music)Disco, Pop music, Dance music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

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  • 48

    Erykah Badu

    New Amerykah Part One (4th World War), Baduizm

    Genres (Music)Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, New Age, Neo soul, Contemporary R&B

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  • 49

    R. Kelly

    Black Panties, Unfinished Business

    Genres (Music)Hip hop music, Neo soul, Dance-pop, Pop rap, New jack swing

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  • 50

    Janet Jackson

    Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814, janet.

    Genres (Music)Hip hop music, Pop music, Rock music, Dance-pop, Contemporary R&B

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