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

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9.1k votes 938 voters 52.1k views 220 items

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 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 charttoppers. 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 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.

1
208 106
Michael Jackson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Michael Jackson Motown Sound, Rock music, Electronic music

2
123 57
Stevie Wonder is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Stevie Wonder Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul, Pop music

3
113 51
Aretha Franklin is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Aretha Franklin Pop music, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

4
163 89
Marvin Gaye is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Marvin Gaye Doo-wop, Motown Sound, Rock music

5
113 55
James Brown is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
James Brown Hip hop music, Doo-wop, Pop music

6
121 66
The Temptations is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
The Temptations Doo-wop, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

7
143 84
Whitney Houston is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Whitney Houston Pop music, Dance-pop, Contemporary R&B

8
108 59
Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Ray Charles Soul blues, Pop music, Rock music

9
110 64
Al Green is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Al Green Smooth soul, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

10
120 73
Sam Cooke is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Sam Cooke Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

11
53 28
Gladys Knight & the Pips is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Gladys Knight & the Pips Rhythm and blues, Soul music

12
25 4
Prince is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Prince Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave

13
58 34
Gladys Knight is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Gladys Knight Rhythm and blues, Soul music, Gospel music

14
51 29
Sly and the Family Stone is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
MarySSpiegel added Sly and the Family Stone

15
78 49
Etta James is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Etta James Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll

16
67 42
Boyz II Men is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Boyz II Men Hip hop music, Pop music, Contemporary R&B

17
63 38
Little Richard is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Little Richard Jump blues, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

18
63 40
Usher is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Usher Hip hop music, Pop music, Dance-pop

19
71 47
B.B. King is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
B.B. King Blues-rock, Soul blues, Rock music

20
80 55
Alicia Keys is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Alicia Keys Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul

21
53 32
Aaliyah is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Aaliyah Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul

22
58 35
Four Tops is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Four Tops Doo-wop, Pop music, Rock music

23
88 65
Beyoncé Knowles is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Beyoncé Knowles Urban contemporary, Hip hop music, Pop music

24
36 19
Bruno Mars is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Mary S Spiegel added Bruno Mars Alternative hip hop, Pop music, Rock music

25
49 31
Chuck Berry is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Chuck Berry Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll

26
49 33
Bill Withers is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Bill Withers Smooth soul, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

27
50 34
Janet Jackson is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Janet Jackson Hip hop music, Pop music, Rock music

28
38 25
Isaac Hayes is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Isaac Hayes Disco, Jazz-funk, Rhythm and blues

29
56 41
Commodores is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Commodores Disco, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

30
44 30
Chaka Khan is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Chaka Khan Hip hop music, Adult contemporary music, Disco

31
51 37
Barry White is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Barry White Disco, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

32
17 6
Lauryn Hill is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Lauryn Hill Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Neo soul

33
86 75
Bee Gees is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Bee Gees Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco

34
46 38
Amy Winehouse is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Amy Winehouse Doo-wop, Pop music, Neo soul

35
42 34
Anita Baker is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Anita Baker Adult contemporary music, Quiet storm, Smooth jazz

36
13 7
Mariah Carey is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Mariah Carey Hip hop music, Pop music, Contemporary R&B

37
29 23
Babyface is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Babyface Urban contemporary, Adult contemporary music, Pop music

38
37 30
Booker T. & the M.G.'s is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Booker T. & the M.G.'s Southern soul, Instrumental rock, Electric blues

39
38 31
Frank Ocean is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Frank Ocean Alternative hip hop, Neo soul, Contemporary R&B

40
19 14
New Edition is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
symoneledford added New Edition

41
21 15
D'Angelo is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
D'Angelo Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul

42
10 4
Sade Adu is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time

43
23 19
George Clinton is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
George Clinton Psychedelic soul, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

44
25 20
Bo Diddley is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Bo Diddley Blues-rock, Chicago blues, Rock music

45
57 54
Elvis Presley is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Elvis Presley Christian music, Pop music, Rock music

46
31 27
Billy Preston is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Billy Preston Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

47
29 25
David Ruffin is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
David Ruffin Disco, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

48
31 29
The Weeknd is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
The Weeknd Indie pop, Downtempo, Dubstep

49
21 17
Big Mama Thornton is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Big Mama Thornton Rhythm and blues, Texas blues

50
27 25
BLACKstreet is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
BLACKstreet Hip hop music, Pop music, Electronic dance music