Soul The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time  

Reference
Originally by
29.9k votes 4.8k voters 350.8k 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.
Ranker may collect a commission from links on this page. Prices & inventory are accurate as of publish date.
list ordered by

1
839 245
Sam Cooke is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Jazz

2
910 275
Otis Redding is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Southern soul, Soul blues, Rock music

3
842 228
Aretha Franklin is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Pop music, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

4
616 188
Ray Charles is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Soul blues, Pop music, Rock music

5
572 173
Al Green is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Smooth soul, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

6
918 172
Marvin Gaye is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Doo-wop, Motown Sound, Rock music

7
545 163
James Brown is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Hip hop music, Doo-wop, Pop music

8
660 158
Stevie Wonder is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Motown Sound, Psychedelic soul, Pop music

9
350 163
Tina Turner is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Rock music, Dance-pop, Rhythm and blues

10
281 132
Wilson Pickett is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Southern soul, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

11
444 114
The Temptations is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Doo-wop, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

12
266 110
Jackie Wilson is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Pop music, Rhythm and blues, Soul music

13
341 112
Etta James is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Rock music, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll

14
318 104
Curtis Mayfield is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Psychedelic soul, Chicago soul, Rhythm and blues

15
323 124
Smokey Robinson is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

16
284 109
Bill Withers is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Smooth soul, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

17
211 87
Sam & Dave is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Southern soul, Rhythm and blues, Rock and roll

18
308 111
Luther Vandross is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Hip hop music, Adult contemporary music, Contemporary R&B

19
267 91
Four Tops is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Doo-wop, Pop music, Rock music

20
163 106
Ike & Tina Turner is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Blues-rock, Pop music, Rock music

21
254 92
The Isley Brothers is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Doo-wop, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

22
249 80
Donny Hathaway is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
crmflava added Blues-rock, Pop music, Chicago soul

23
253 83
Gladys Knight & the Pips is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Rhythm and blues, Soul music

24
289 124
Prince is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Hip hop music, Synthpop, New Wave

25
296 112
Earth, Wind & Fire is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Soul Singers/Groups of All Time
Disco, Rock music, Black metal