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

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9.3k votes 942 voters 52.2k 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
209 106
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 58
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 52
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
164 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 56
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 67
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 85
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 60
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 65
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 74
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 29
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 5
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 35
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
78 50
Etta James is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Etta James Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll

15
51 30
Sly and the Family Stone is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
MarySSpiegel added Sly and the Family Stone

16
81 55
Alicia Keys is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Alicia Keys Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul

17
67 43
Boyz II Men is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Boyz II Men Hip hop music, Pop music, Contemporary R&B

18
64 41
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
63 39
Little Richard is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Little Richard Jump blues, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

20
71 48
B.B. King is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
B.B. King Blues-rock, Soul blues, Rock music

21
89 65
Beyoncé Knowles is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Beyoncé Knowles Urban contemporary, Hip hop music, Pop music

22
59 36
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
53 33
Aaliyah is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Aaliyah Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul

24
36 20
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
50 33
Bill Withers is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Bill Withers Smooth soul, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

26
49 32
Chuck Berry is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Chuck Berry Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll

27
50 35
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
39 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
57 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
45 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
52 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
87 75
Bee Gees is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Bee Gees Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco

33
17 7
Lauryn Hill is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Lauryn Hill Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Neo soul

34
46 39
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 35
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
29 24
Babyface is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Babyface Urban contemporary, Adult contemporary music, Pop music

37
13 8
Mariah Carey is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Mariah Carey Hip hop music, Pop music, Contemporary R&B

38
38 32
Frank Ocean is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Frank Ocean Alternative hip hop, Neo soul, Contemporary R&B

39
37 31
Booker T. & the M.G.'s is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Booker T. & the M.G.'s Southern soul, Instrumental rock, Electric blues

40
19 15
New Edition is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
symoneledford added New Edition

41
58 54
Elvis Presley is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Elvis Presley Christian music, Pop music, Rock music

42
21 16
D'Angelo is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
D'Angelo Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul

43
23 20
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
10 5
Sade Adu is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time

45
32 30
The Weeknd is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
The Weeknd Indie pop, Downtempo, Dubstep

46
25 21
Bo Diddley is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Bo Diddley Blues-rock, Chicago blues, Rock music

47
31 28
Billy Preston is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Billy Preston Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

48
29 26
David Ruffin is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
David Ruffin Disco, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

49
27 26
BLACKstreet is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
BLACKstreet Hip hop music, Pop music, Electronic dance music

50
21 18
Big Mama Thornton is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Big Mama Thornton Rhythm and blues, Texas blues