bands/musicians The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time  

Reference
Originally by
6.8k votes 657 voters 45.1k views 205 items Embed

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.

list ordered by

1
143 76
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

The Greatest Artists Who Have Never Won a Grammy The All-Time Best Rock Bassists

2
122 68
Marvin Gaye is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Marvin Gaye Doo-wop, Motown Sound, Rock music

3
108 60
Whitney Houston is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Whitney Houston Pop music, Dance-pop, Contemporary R&B

4
80 42
Stevie Wonder is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Stevie Wonder Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul, Pop music

5
78 41
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
71 36
Aretha Franklin is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Aretha Franklin Pop music, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

7
89 50
The Temptations is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
The Temptations Doo-wop, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

8
98 60
Sam Cooke is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Sam Cooke Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

9
81 47
Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Ray Charles Soul blues, Pop music, Rock music

10
84 52
Al Green is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Al Green Smooth soul, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

11
61 34
Etta James is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Etta James Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll

12
37 16
Gladys Knight & the Pips is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Gladys Knight & the Pips Rhythm and blues, Soul music

13
43 22
Four Tops is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Four Tops Doo-wop, Pop music, Rock music

14
44 23
Gladys Knight is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Gladys Knight Rhythm and blues, Soul music, Gospel music

15
36 18
Chaka Khan is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Chaka Khan Hip hop music, Adult contemporary music, Disco

18 Pictures of Taylor Swift Not Wearing Makeup The Greatest Songs by '90s One-Hit Wonders

16
44 25
Little Richard is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Little Richard Jump blues, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

17
31 14
Sly and the Family Stone is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
MarySSpiegel added Sly and the Family Stone

18
46 27
Boyz II Men is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Boyz II Men Hip hop music, Pop music, Contemporary R&B

19
35 18
Usher is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Usher Hip hop music, Pop music, Dance-pop

20
36 19
Chuck Berry is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Chuck Berry Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll

21
33 18
Booker T. & the M.G.'s is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Booker T. & the M.G.'s Southern soul, Instrumental rock, Electric blues

22
53 36
B.B. King is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
B.B. King Blues-rock, Soul blues, Rock music

23
45 29
Commodores is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Commodores Disco, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

24
63 47
Beyoncé Knowles is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Beyoncé Knowles Urban contemporary, Hip hop music, Pop music

25
75 58
Bee Gees is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Bee Gees Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco

26
35 22
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
39 26
Barry White is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Barry White Disco, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

28
35 23
Anita Baker is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Anita Baker Adult contemporary music, Quiet storm, Smooth jazz

29
27 16
Aaliyah is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Aaliyah Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul

Musicians Who Died of Alcoholism Words That Definitely Should Be Real... But Aren't

30
27 16
Isaac Hayes is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Isaac Hayes Disco, Jazz-funk, Rhythm and blues

31
32 21
Janet Jackson is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Janet Jackson Hip hop music, Pop music, Rock music

32
47 36
Alicia Keys is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Alicia Keys Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul

33
20 13
Babyface is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Babyface Urban contemporary, Adult contemporary music, Pop music

34
24 17
Billy Preston is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Billy Preston Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

35
45 38
Elvis Presley is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Elvis Presley Christian music, Pop music, Rock music

36
8 2
Bruno Mars is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Mary S Spiegel added Bruno Mars Alternative hip hop, Pop music, Rock music

37
19 13
BLACKstreet is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
BLACKstreet Hip hop music, Pop music, Electronic dance music

38
22 17
David Ruffin is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
David Ruffin Disco, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

39
25 20
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
20 15
The Gap Band is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
The Gap Band Disco, Electro, Contemporary R&B

41
50 46
Adele is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Adele Southern soul, Neo soul, Rock music

42
30 26
Amy Winehouse is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Amy Winehouse Doo-wop, Pop music, Neo soul

43
8 4
New Edition is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
symoneledford added New Edition

The Best Blues Artists of All Time The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time

44
18 15
The Weeknd is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
The Weeknd Indie pop, Downtempo, Dubstep

45
16 13
Big Mama Thornton is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Big Mama Thornton Rhythm and blues, Texas blues

46
21 19
Billy Ocean is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Billy Ocean Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

47
18 16
Ben E. King is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Ben E. King Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

48
14 12
Aaron Neville is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Aaron Neville Rhythm and blues, Soul music

49
26 25
Van Morrison is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Van Morrison Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

50
17 16
Bo Diddley is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Bo Diddley Blues-rock, Chicago blues, Rock music