Photo: via Reddit

Bands/Musicians The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time  

Reference
Originally by
15.5k votes 1.3k voters 22.5k views

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.
list ordered by

1
286 140
Michael Jackson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Motown Sound, Rock music, Electronic music

2
220 123
Stevie Wonder is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul, Pop music

3
224 99
Marvin Gaye is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Doo-wop, Motown Sound, Rock music

4
161 102
Aretha Franklin is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Pop music, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

5
140 123
Tina Turner is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Rock music, Dance-pop, Rhythm and blues

6
149 51
Whitney Houston is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Pop music, Dance-pop, Contemporary R&B

7
148 80
The Temptations is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Doo-wop, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

8
172 101
James Brown is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Hip hop music, Doo-wop, Pop music

9
209 82
Prince is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave

10
110 54
Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Soul blues, Pop music, Rock music

11
143 86
Otis Redding is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Southern soul, Soul blues, Rock music

12
109 58
Al Green is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Artie_Moon added Smooth soul, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

13
120 67
Sam Cooke is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

14
143 79
The Jackson 5 is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Bubblegum pop, Motown Sound, Disco

15
113 59
The Isley Brothers is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Doo-wop, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

16
183 85
Frank Ocean is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Alternative hip hop, Neo soul, Contemporary R&B

17
110 85
Lauryn Hill is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Neo soul

18
130 104
Alicia Keys is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul

19
89 61
The O'Jays is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Philadelphia soul, Disco, Quiet storm

20
79 54
Curtis Mayfield is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Artie_Moon added Psychedelic soul, Chicago soul, Rhythm and blues

21
83 108
Ike & Tina Turner is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Blues-rock, Pop music, Rock music

22
95 93
Janet Jackson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Hip hop music, Pop music, Rock music

23
83 69
Chaka Khan is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Hip hop music, Adult contemporary music, Disco

24
88 65
Mary J. Blige is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Hip hop music, Contemporary R&B, Rhythm and blues

25
101 78
Smokey Robinson is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

26
124 87
Aaliyah is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul

27
117 68
Luther Vandross is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Hip hop music, Adult contemporary music, Contemporary R&B

28
82 71
Diana Ross is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time

29
75 31
Earth, Wind & Fire is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Disco, Rock music, Black metal

30
89 72
Barry White is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Disco, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

31
63 54
The Supremes is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Girl group, Doo-wop, Psychedelic soul

32
107 73
Beyoncé Knowles is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Urban contemporary, Hip hop music, Pop music

33
68 62
Toni Braxton is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Hip hop music, Adult contemporary music, Pop music

34
51 54
Roberta Flack is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Folk music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

35
96 81
Usher is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Hip hop music, Pop music, Dance-pop

36
99 73
Boyz II Men is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Hip hop music, Pop music, Contemporary R&B

37
76 82
Donna Summer is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
New Wave, Disco, Pop music

38
74 73
Sly & the Family Stone is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Psychedelic soul, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

39
68 66
Brandy Norwood is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Hip hop music, Pop music, Dance-pop

40
68 67
Jackie Wilson is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

41
74 75
Lionel Richie is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rock music

42
56 55
Patti LaBelle is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Doo-wop, Girl group, Ballad

43
80 65
TLC is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Hip hop music, Girl group, Alternative hip hop

44
73 71
Etta James is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll

45
87 73
Mariah Carey is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Hip hop music, Pop music, Contemporary R&B

46
40 26
Kool and the Gang is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time

47
58 52
Sade Adu is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time

48
64 73
Erykah Badu is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, New Age

49
66 53
New Edition is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Hip hop music, Old-school hip hop, New Wave

50
58 46
B.B. King is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Artie_Moon added Blues-rock, Soul blues, Rock music