Music

The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time  

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List Rules Only 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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26
Smokey Robinson is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Warm Thoughts, Where There's Smoke, Anthology (disc 3)
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
27
Luther Vandross is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
This Is Christmas, Every Year, Every Christmas
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
28
Earth, Wind & Fire is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
That's the Way of the World, Spirit, All 'n All
Earth, Wind & Fire is an American band that has spanned the musical genres of R&B, soul, funk, jazz, disco, pop, rock, Latin, African and gospel. They are one of the most successful and ...more
29
Diana Ross is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Diana Patience Beverly Ross, relative of Robert Ross, was an English children's author and occasional and longtime resident of Shaw, near Melksham, in Wiltshire. A graduate of the Central School ...more
30
Brandy Norwood is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
The Best of Brandy, Afrodisiac, Full Moon
Brandy Rayana Norwood (born February 11, 1979), known professionally as Brandy, is an American R singer-songwriter, record producer, television entertainer, actress, and film producer. In 2009, ...more
31
Beyoncé Knowles is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Dangerously in Love, 4, Beautiful Liar
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, she performed in various singing and dancing competitions as a child, and ...more
32
The Supremes is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
20th Century Masters: The Christmas Collection: The Best of The Supremes, Diana Ross & the Supremes: 20 Golden Greats, Love Child
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
33
Ike & Tina Turner is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
River Deep - Mountain High, The Soul Anthology, Bold Soul Sister: The Best of the Blue Thumb Recordings
Ike & Tina Turner were an American musical duo composed of the husband-and-wife team of Ike Turner and Tina Turner. The duo started as an offshoot splinter act from Ike Turner's Kings of ...more
34
TLC is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Crazy Sexy Cool, Ooooooohhh ... On the TLC Tip, 3D
TLC is an American girl group whose repertoire spans R&B, hip hop, pop, funk and new jack swing. TLC originally comprised singer Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, rapper Lisa "Left ...more
35
Mariah Carey is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Daydream, Music Box, Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and occasional actress. She rose to prominence after releasing her self-titled debut studio album Mariah Carey in 1990; it went ...more
36
Patti LaBelle is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
This Christmas, Miss Patti's Christmas, Winner in You
Patricia Louise Holte-Edwards, better known under the stage name Patti LaBelle, is an American singer, author, and actress who has spent over 50 years in the music industry. LaBelle spent 16 ...more
37
Destiny's Child is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
8 Days of Christmas, The Writing's on the Wall, #1's
Destiny's Child was an American R&B girl group whose final, and perhaps most recognizable, line-up comprised Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams. Formed in 1990 in ...more
38
B.B. King is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Artie_Moon added Let the Good Times Roll, Live at the Regal, Ladies and Gentleman... Mr. B.B. King
B.B. King is an American blues musician, singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at No. 6 on its 2011 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, and he was ...more
39
Toni Braxton is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Snowflakes, Secrets, Un-Break My Heart
Toni Michele Braxton is an American R&B singer-songwriter, pianist, musician, record producer, actress, television personality, and philanthropist. Rising to fame in the beginning of the ...more
40
Chris Brown is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Exclusive, F.A.M.E., Run It!
Christopher Maurice Brown "Chris" Brown is an American recording artist, dancer, and actor. Born in Tappahannock, Virginia, he taught himself to sing and dance at a young age and was ...more
41
Roberta Flack is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
The Christmas Album, Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, Roberta Flack Featuring Donny Hathaway
Roberta Cleopatra Flack is an American singer, and musician who is notable for jazz, Pop, R&B, and folk music. She is best known for her classic #1 singles "The First Time Ever I Saw ...more
42
Sade Adu is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Helen Folasade Adu, OBE, known as Sade, is a British Nigerian singer, songwriter, composer, and record producer. Following a brief stint of studying fashion design and modelling Adu began back ...more
43
Donna Summer is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Bad Girls, Christmas Spirit, The Summer Collection: Greatest Hits
LaDonna Adrian Gaines, known by her stage name, Donna Summer, was an American singer, songwriter, and painter. She gained prominence during the disco era of the late 1970s. A five-time Grammy ...more
44
The Weeknd is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Kiss Land, House of Balloons, Thursday
Abel Tesfaye, known by his stage name The Weeknd, is a Canadian PBR&B singer, songwriter, recording artist, and record producer. In late 2010, Tesfaye anonymously uploaded several songs to ...more
45
Lionel Richie is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Can't Slow Down, Tuskegee, Coming Home
Lionel Brockman Richie, Jr. is an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer and actor. Beginning in 1968, he was a member of the musical group Commodores signed to Motown Records. ...more
46
Sly & the Family Stone is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
There's a Riot Goin' On, Stand!, Greatest Hits
Sly and the Family Stone was an American band from San Francisco. Active from 1967 to 1983, the band was pivotal in the development of soul, funk, and psychedelic music. Headed by singer, ...more
47
Etta James is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
At Last!, Tell Mama, I'd Rather Go Blind
Etta James was an American singer. Her style spanned a variety of music genres including blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, jazz and gospel. Starting her career in 1954, she gained fame with ...more
48
The O'Jays is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Ship Ahoy, Love Songs, Emotionally Yours
The O'Jays are an American R&B group from Canton, Ohio, formed in 1958 and originally consisting of Eddie Levert, Walter Williams, William Powell, Bobby Massey and Bill Isles. The O'Jays ...more
49
Barry White is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Can't Get Enough, Una serata con, Back to Back: Their Greatest Hits
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
50
Jackie Wilson is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
The Jackie Wilson Story, The Titan of Soul, The Very Best of Jackie Wilson
Jack Leroy "Jackie" Wilson, Jr. was an African American soul singer-songwriter and performer. Known as a tenor with a four octave vocal range, he was nicknamed "Mr. ...more