R&B 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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list ordered by

1
389 202
Michael Jackson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Thriller, Bad, Off the Wall
Michael Joseph Jackson was an American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and actor. Called the King of Pop, his contributions to music and dance, along with his publicized personal ...more

2
284 171
Stevie Wonder is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Songs in the Key of Life, Innervisions, Talking Book
Stevland Hardaway Morris, known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist. A child prodigy, he has become one of ...more

3
288 131
Marvin Gaye is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
What's Going On, Here, My Dear
Marvin Gaye was an American singer, songwriter and musician. Gaye helped to shape the sound of Motown Records, first as an in house session player in the 1960s and later as a solo artist with a ...more

4
209 135
Aretha Franklin is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Lady Soul, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, Young
Aretha Louise Franklin was an American singer and songwriter. She began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, where her father, C. L. Franklin, was ...more

5
167 161
Tina Turner is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Private Dancer, What's Love Got to Do With It, Simply the Best
Anna Mae Bullock, known by her stage name Tina Turner, is a singer, dancer, actress, and author, whose career has spanned more than half a century, earning her widespread recognition and ...more

6
268 107
Prince is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Purple Rain, Sign 'O' the Times, 1999
Prince Roger Nelson, known by his mononym Prince, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and actor. A major figure in popular music for over three decades, Prince is renowned ...more

7
195 83
Whitney Houston is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album, Whitney Houston, My Love Is Your Love
Whitney Elizabeth Houston was an American singer, actress, producer, and model. In 2009, Guinness World Records cited her as the most awarded female act of all time. Houston is one of pop ...more

8
183 110
The Temptations is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
The Temptations Christmas Card, The Very Best of Christmas, The Temptations Sing Smokey
The Temptations are an American vocal group known for their success with Motown Records during the 1960s and 1970s. Known for their choreography, distinct harmonies, and flashy wardrobe, the ...more

9
150 74
Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
The Birth of Soul, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, The Spirit of Christmas
Ray Charles Robinson, professionally known as Ray Charles, was an American singer, songwriter, musician and composer, who is sometimes referred to as "The Genius". He pioneered the ...more

10
203 132
James Brown is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Live at the Apollo, Star Time, Funky Christmas
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

11
185 106
Otis Redding is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul, The Dock of the Bay, The Immortal Otis Redding
Otis Ray Redding, Jr. was an American singer-songwriter, record producer, arranger and talent scout. He is considered one of the greatest singers in the history of American popular music and a ...more

12
139 78
Al Green is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Artie_Moon added Call Me, The Christmas Album, White Christmas
Albert "Al" Greene, often known as The Reverend Al Green, is an American singer best known for recording a series of soul hit singles in the early 1970s, including "Tired of Being ...more

13
155 87
Sam Cooke is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Night Beat, Shake, Touch the Hem of His Garment: 23 Gospel Gems
Samuel "Sam" Cooke was an American recording artist and singer-songwriter, generally considered among the greatest of all time. Influential as both a singer and composer, he is ...more

14
301 114
Frank Ocean is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Channel Orange, nostalgia, ULTRA.
Christopher Breaux, better known by his stage name Frank Ocean, is an American singer-songwriter and rapper. Ocean started his career as a ghostwriter for artists such as Justin Bieber, Damienn ...more

15
145 106
Lauryn Hill is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, MTV Unplugged 2.0, Ms. Hill
Lauryn Hill is an American singer–songwriter, rapper, producer, and actress. She is best known for being a member of the Fugees and for her solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Raised in ...more

16
173 100
The Jackson 5 is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Christmas Album, 20th Century Masters: The Christmas Collection: The Best of Jackson 5, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5
The Jackson 5 are an American popular music family group from Gary, Indiana. Formed in 1964 under the name The Jackson Brothers, the founding members were Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine. Marlon and ...more

17
163 130
Alicia Keys is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Remixed & Unplugged in A minor, As I Am, Unplugged
Alicia Augello Cook, known by the pseudonym Alicia Keys, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress. Keys released her debut album with J Records, having had previous record ...more

18
135 76
The Isley Brothers is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
3 + 3 / Go for Your Guns, Body Kiss, I'll Be Home for Christmas
The Isley Brothers are an American musical group originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, originally a vocal trio consisting of brothers O'Kelly Isley, Jr., Rudolph Isley and Ronald Isley. The group ...more

19
121 82
Mary J. Blige is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Mary, My Life, What's the 411?
Mary Jane Blige is an American singer, songwriter, model, record producer, and actress. Starting her career as a background singer on Uptown Records in 1989, Blige released her first album, ...more

20
112 45
Earth, Wind & Fire is listed (or ranked) 20 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

21
94 126
Ike & Tina Turner is listed (or ranked) 21 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

22
97 70
Curtis Mayfield is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Artie_Moon added Superfly, Curtis, The Anthology: 1961-1977
Curtis Lee Mayfield was an African American soul, R&B, and funk singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer, who was one of the most influential musicians behind soul and politically ...more

23
102 89
Chaka Khan is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Ask Rufus, Come 2 My House, Rufus
Chaka Khan is an American singer-songwriter whose career has spanned four decades, beginning in the 1970s as the frontwoman and focal point of the funk band Rufus. Often dubbed the "Queen ...more

24
138 79
Luther Vandross is listed (or ranked) 24 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

25
115 121
Janet Jackson is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814, janet., Control
Janet Damita Jo Jackson is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Known for a series of sonically innovative, socially conscious and sexually provocative records, as well as elaborate ...more