Music

The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time 

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Updated March 18, 2020 37.1k votes 5.9k voters 395.3k views 159 items

List Rules Only soul singers and groups. If an artist is known for their brand of soul music, then they can be added.

Combining elements of jazz, R&B, and traditional gospel music, soul is a genre that became popular in the 1950s and hasn't looked back since. Though there have been periods where soul has thrived more so than others, the best soul singers are widely regarded as some of the most popular figures in music history. In fact, soul singers are considered by many to be the backbone of the modern music movement. Though it may not seem obvious on the surface, soul music came from influential labels like Stax, Motown, and Atlantic Records, all of which played an important role in shaping the music business. That aside, the best soul singers have dominated the charts and their importance has spanned across multiple generations and has led to multiple soul music subgenres. No matter how you slice it, soul music artists are widely important and their rollicking, soulful songs are part of the great American songbook.

So, who are the best soul singers? Any list of soul music artists has to include names like Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Al Green, James Brown and Marvin Gaye. These soul singers are just a tip of the iceberg as there are so many amazing soul music artists that it's impossible to just name a few. Their influence can't be stated enough and even today, their songs are radio staples and some the easiest identifiable songs in music history.

That said, it's up to you to determine who are the best soul singers of all time. If you like soul music and know soul music artists, then feel free to cast your vote on this list. If you think someone is missing, feel free to add them to the list.This list answers the questions "who are the best soul music bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest soul music 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 soul music bands that you might've heard of.
list ordered by
1
Aretha Franklin is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
2
Marvin Gaye is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
3
Sam Cooke is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
4
Otis Redding is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
5
Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
6
Stevie Wonder is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
7
James Brown is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
8
Al Green is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
9
The Temptations is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
10
Smokey Robinson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
11
Curtis Mayfield is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
12
Etta James is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
13
Bill Withers is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
14
Luther Vandross is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
15
Earth, Wind & Fire ... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
16
Tina Turner is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
17
Gladys Knight & the ... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
18
Donny Hathaway is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
19
Barry White is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
20
Jackie Wilson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
21
Michael Jackson is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
22
Wilson Pickett is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
23
Whitney Houston is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
24
The O'Jays is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
25
The Isley Brothers is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time