Music

The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time 

Ranker Music
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Updated March 16, 2020 16.4k votes 1.5k voters 66.4k views 221 items

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When it comes to the pop charts, R&B artists tend to be among the most popular. The best R&B singers have been topping the pop charts for years as rhythm and blues has remained a bedrock of music. Emerging as a genre in the 1940s, R&B also incorporates soul and funk. Many of of the top R&B artists are household names and their songs chart-toppers. Though R&B has its roots in African-American music, the best R&B singers have crossed over and due to their radio smashes, they're able to sell out arenas across the globe.

So, that said, who are the best R&B artists? Since this list takes a look at every R&B singer, there are going to be a number of excellent choices. That's why you'll see R&B icons like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, along with newer R&B stars such as Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Adele, Usher and Drake on here. All of these great artists are known as some of the best rhythm and blues singers, so their inclusion shouldn't come as a big surprise.

Ultimately, it's up to you to determine who is the best R&B artist. If you notice that someone isn't on this list and should be, feel free to add them. Vote or re-rank this list according to how you think it should reflect your opinion on R&B. This list answers the questions "who are the best rhythm and blues bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest rhythm and blues musician ever?" If you know enough about the genre, please vote based on the quality of the band's music instead of just voting for the most popular rhythm and blues bands that you might've heard of.

list ordered by
1
Marvin Gaye is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Doo-wop, Motown Sound & Rock music; Nationality: United States of America
2
Michael Jackson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Motown Sound, Rock music & Electronic music; Nationality: United States of America
3
Stevie Wonder is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul & Pop music; Nationality: United States of America
4
Whitney Houston is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Pop music, Dance-pop & Contemporary R&B; Nationality: United States of America
5
Aretha Franklin is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Pop music, Rock music & Rhythm and blues; Nationality: United States of America
6
The Temptations is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
7
James Brown is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Hip hop music, Doo-wop & Pop music; Nationality: United States of America
8
Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Soul blues, Pop music & Rock music; Nationality: United States of America
9
Sam Cooke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Pop music, Rhythm and blues & Jazz; Nationality: United States of America
10
Al Green is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Smooth soul, Rhythm and blues & Soul music; Nationality: United States of America
11
Usher is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Contemporary R&B, Hip hop & Pop; Nationality: United States of America
12
Boyz II Men is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
13
Alicia Keys is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Hip hop music, Pop music & Neo soul; Nationality: United States of America
14
Gladys Knight & the ... is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Gladys Knight & the Pips
15
Gladys Knight is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Rhythm and blues, Soul music & Gospel music; Nationality: United States of America
16
Aaliyah is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Hip hop music, Pop music & Neo soul; Nationality: United States of America
17
B.B. King is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Blues-rock, Soul blues & Rock music; Nationality: United States of America
18
Etta James is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Rock music, Rhythm and blues & Rock and roll; Nationality: United States of America
19
Barry White is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Disco, Rhythm and blues & Soul music; Nationality: United States of America
20
Beyoncé Knowles ... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: R&B, Pop & Hip hop; Nationality: United States of America
21
Four Tops is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
22
Anita Baker is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Adult contemporary music, Quiet storm & Smooth jazz; Nationality: United States of America
23
Chuck Berry is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Rock music, Rhythm and blues & Rock and roll; Nationality: United States of America
24
Chaka Khan is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Hip hop music, Adult contemporary music & Disco; Nationality: United States of America
25
Little Richard is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Genre: Jump blues, Rock music & Rhythm and blues; Nationality: United States of America