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

Reference
Originally by
12.6k votes 1.3k voters 58.6k 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
288 156
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
186 99
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
216 133
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
68 23
Prince is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave
5
199 122
Whitney Houston is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Pop music, Dance-pop, Contemporary R&B
6
151 87
Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Soul blues, Pop music, Rock music
7
154 91
Aretha Franklin is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Pop music, Rock music, Rhythm and blues
8
155 95
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
148 90
James Brown is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Hip hop music, Doo-wop, Pop music
10
155 94
Sam Cooke is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz
11
138 85
Al Green is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Smooth soul, Rhythm and blues, Soul music
12
100 57
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
73 41
Gladys Knight & the Pips is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Rhythm and blues, Soul music
14
93 58
Usher is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Hip hop music, Pop music, Dance-pop
15
78 47
Gladys Knight is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Rhythm and blues, Soul music, Gospel music
16
76 46
Aaliyah is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul
17
78 47
Four Tops is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Doo-wop, Pop music, Rock music
18
71 41
Chuck Berry 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
103 73
Alicia Keys is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul
20
87 60
B.B. King is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Blues-rock, Soul blues, Rock music
21
68 45
Sly and the Family Stone is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
MarySSpiegel added Sly and the Family Stone
22
66 42
Chaka Khan is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Hip hop music, Adult contemporary music, Disco
23
75 51
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
38 19
Mariah Carey is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Hip hop music, Pop music, Contemporary R&B
25
79 53
Little Richard is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest R&B Artists of All Time
Jump blues, Rock music, Rhythm and blues