Photo: via Reddit

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

Reference
Originally by
14.4k votes 1.2k voters 20.7k 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.

1
258 124
Michael Jackson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Michael Jackson Motown Sound, Rock music, Electronic music

2
197 110
Stevie Wonder is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Stevie Wonder Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul, Pop music

3
197 93
Marvin Gaye is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Marvin Gaye Doo-wop, Motown Sound, Rock music

4
145 94
Aretha Franklin is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Aretha Franklin Pop music, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

5
128 113
Tina Turner is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Tina Turner Rock music, Dance-pop, Rhythm and blues

6
124 45
Whitney Houston is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Whitney Houston Pop music, Dance-pop, Contemporary R&B

7
158 95
James Brown is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
James Brown Hip hop music, Doo-wop, Pop music

8
135 76
The Temptations is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
The Temptations Doo-wop, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

9
187 75
Prince is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Prince Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave

10
98 50
Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Ray Charles Soul blues, Pop music, Rock music

11
128 83
Otis Redding is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Otis Redding Southern soul, Soul blues, Rock music

12
102 53
Al Green is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Artie_Moon added Al Green Smooth soul, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

13
109 63
Sam Cooke is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Sam Cooke Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

14
118 93
Alicia Keys is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Alicia Keys Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul

15
129 76
The Jackson 5 is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
The Jackson 5 Bubblegum pop, Motown Sound, Disco

16
100 56
The Isley Brothers is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
The Isley Brothers Doo-wop, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

17
98 80
Lauryn Hill is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Lauryn Hill Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Neo soul

18
79 101
Ike & Tina Turner is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Ike & Tina Turner Blues-rock, Pop music, Rock music

19
115 77
Aaliyah is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Aaliyah Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul

20
86 85
Janet Jackson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Janet Jackson Hip hop music, Pop music, Rock music

21
137 73
Frank Ocean is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Frank Ocean Alternative hip hop, Neo soul, Contemporary R&B

22
80 59
The O'Jays is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
The O'Jays Philadelphia soul, Disco, Quiet storm

23
71 52
Curtis Mayfield is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Artie_Moon added Curtis Mayfield Psychedelic soul, Chicago soul, Rhythm and blues

24
74 66
Chaka Khan is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Chaka Khan Hip hop music, Adult contemporary music, Disco

25
77 61
Mary J. Blige is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Mary J. Blige Hip hop music, Contemporary R&B, Rhythm and blues

26
93 77
Smokey Robinson is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Smokey Robinson Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

27
76 70
Diana Ross is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time

28
103 67
Luther Vandross is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Luther Vandross Hip hop music, Adult contemporary music, Contemporary R&B

29
64 30
Earth, Wind & Fire is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Earth, Wind & Fire Disco, Rock music, Black metal

30
82 72
Barry White is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Barry White Disco, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

31
94 65
Beyoncé Knowles is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Beyoncé Knowles Urban contemporary, Hip hop music, Pop music

32
58 52
The Supremes is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
The Supremes Girl group, Doo-wop, Psychedelic soul

33
87 75
Usher is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Usher Hip hop music, Pop music, Dance-pop

34
61 58
Toni Braxton is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Toni Braxton Hip hop music, Adult contemporary music, Pop music

35
46 52
Roberta Flack is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Roberta Flack Folk music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

36
71 78
Donna Summer is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Donna Summer New Wave, Disco, Pop music

37
89 71
Boyz II Men is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Boyz II Men Hip hop music, Pop music, Contemporary R&B

38
66 70
Sly & the Family Stone is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Sly & the Family Stone Psychedelic soul, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

39
51 52
Patti LaBelle is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Patti LaBelle Doo-wop, Girl group, Ballad

40
66 72
Lionel Richie is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Lionel Richie Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rock music

41
61 66
Jackie Wilson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Jackie Wilson Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

42
56 61
Brandy Norwood is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Brandy Norwood Hip hop music, Pop music, Dance-pop

43
72 60
TLC is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
TLC Hip hop music, Girl group, Alternative hip hop

44
60 48
New Edition is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
New Edition Hip hop music, Old-school hip hop, New Wave

45
34 22
Kool and the Gang is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time

46
80 70
Mariah Carey is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Mariah Carey Hip hop music, Pop music, Contemporary R&B

47
58 68
Erykah Badu is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Erykah Badu Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, New Age

48
53 50
Sade Adu is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time

49
67 71
Etta James is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Etta James Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll

50
41 48
Natalie Cole is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists and Bands of All Time
Natalie Cole Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Quiet storm