R&B The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time  

Reference
Originally by
11.4k votes 1.2k voters 56.8k 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.

Ranker may collect a commission from links on this page. Prices & inventory are accurate as of publish date.
list ordered by

1
271 137
Michael Jackson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Motown Sound, Rock music, Electronic music

2
172 87
Stevie Wonder is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul, Pop music

3
199 120
Marvin Gaye is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Doo-wop, Motown Sound, Rock music

4
181 112
Whitney Houston is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Pop music, Dance-pop, Contemporary R&B

5
142 83
Aretha Franklin is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Pop music, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

6
137 80
James Brown is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Hip hop music, Doo-wop, Pop music

7
137 83
Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Soul blues, Pop music, Rock music

8
143 90
The Temptations is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Doo-wop, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

9
143 90
Sam Cooke is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

10
128 80
Al Green is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Smooth soul, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

11
47 15
Prince is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave

12
86 51
Boyz II Men is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Hip hop music, Pop music, Contemporary R&B

13
83 50
Usher is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Hip hop music, Pop music, Dance-pop

14
65 37
Gladys Knight & the Pips is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Rhythm and blues, Soul music

15
67 40
Aaliyah is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul

16
70 44
Gladys Knight is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Rhythm and blues, Soul music, Gospel music

17
94 67
Alicia Keys is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul

18
87 58
Etta James is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll

19
70 44
Four Tops is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Doo-wop, Pop music, Rock music

20
62 41
Sly and the Family Stone is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
MarySSpiegel added Sly and the Family Stone

21
79 56
B.B. King is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Blues-rock, Soul blues, Rock music

22
61 38
Chuck Berry is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll

23
66 45
Janet Jackson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Hip hop music, Pop music, Rock music

24
72 49
Little Richard is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Jump blues, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

25
51 34
Bruno Mars is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Mary S Spiegel added Alternative hip hop, Pop music, Rock music