Famous 20th Century American Singers

Find out more about the greatest 20th Century American Singers, including Fetty Wap, Michael Jackson, Taylor Swift, Kim Zolciak and Eminem.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson
394
Famous As: King of Pop
Birthdate: August 29, 1958
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Gary, Indiana, United States
Died: June 25, 2009

The King of Pop and an international superstar, Michael Jackson was a musical entertainer whose work – both with Jackson 5 and solo – won accolades and hearts worldwide. Equally popular were his unique dance moves that created sensation and shaped future dance styles. Amongst the most successful entertainers of all time, Jackson was later accused of child molestation.  

 2 Eminem

Eminem
165
Famous As: Rapper, Songwriter
Birthdate: October 17, 1972
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint Joseph, Missouri, United States

Amongst the biggest rappers of all time, Eminem gained worldwide popularity with the release of albums like The Slim Shady LP and The Marshall Mathers LP. His subsequent albums became huge successes further making him a bigger sensation and one of the bestselling music artists of all time. His fame greatly inspired other white rappers to succeed in popular music.

 3 Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur
431
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: June 16, 1971
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: September 13, 1996

Tupac Amaru Shakur, popularly known as 2Pac or Makaveli, is considered as one of the greatest American rappers of all time. Talent and trouble went hand in hand in Shakur’s journey to fame; the higher Shakur rose in his iconic status, the deeper he became entangled in gang violence and an infamous rivalry, which sadly led to his untimely demise.

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 4 Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga
316
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: March 28, 1986
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

Popular singer and songwriter, Lady Gaga has been active in the music industry since her teens. One of the world's best-selling music artists, she is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards. A versatile performer, she is known for her consistent image reinventions in music. She is actively involved in philanthropy and social activism.

 5 Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley
115
Famous As: Singer, Actor
Birthdate: January 8, 1935
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Tupelo, Mississippi, United States
Died: August 16, 1977
The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, winner of 3 Grammys, and pioneer of the Pelvis move, Elvis Presley was a musical phenomenon of the 20th century. Known for his humbleness, love for God and devotion to his country, Presley had numerous gold, platinum and multi-platinum records to his credit, including 18 number 1 hits and 38 top ten hits.

 6 Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez
367
Famous As: Actress, Singer
Birthdate: July 22, 1992
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Grand Prairie, Texas, United States

Singer, songwriter, and actress, Selena Gomez, was destined for a career in the entertainment industry! The daughter of an actress, she was exposed to acting as a child and began her career early on. She gained much fame as a singer and actress in her teenage and was named the Billboard Woman of the Year in 2017.

 7 Beyonce Knowles

Beyonce Knowles
764
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: September 4, 1981
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States

Beyonce Knowles is a singer, songwriter, and actress. She developed an interest in music as a child. As a teenager, she became the lead singer of Destiny's Child, one of the best-selling girl groups of all time. As of today, she is one of the world's best-selling recording artists. 

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 8 Prince

Prince
209
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: June 7, 1958
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Died: April 21, 2016

Singer-songwriter, dancer, and musician, Prince is is widely regarded as one of the greatest musicians of his generation. He was considered a guitar virtuoso and could also play several other instruments. With worldwide sales of over 150 million records, he is ranked among the best-selling music artists of all time. He was also well known for his flamboyant persona.

 9 Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez
258
Famous As: Singer, Actress, Dancer
Birthdate: July 24, 1969
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

Jennifer Lopez established herself as the highest-paid Latin actress in Hollywood after starring in films such as Out of Sight, The Wedding Planner, Maid in Manhattan and Shall We Dance’. She is also an accomplished dancer and commercially very successful singer. She helped propel the Latin pop movement in American music. She is also a fashion designer and a businesswoman.

 10 Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg
333
Famous As: Rapper, Songwriter
Birthdate: October 20, 1971
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Long Beach, California, United States

Snoop Dogg is a famous American rapper whose life is a perfect example of rags-to-riches story. As a child, he did various odd jobs to help his family make ends meet. He started rapping as a young boy to distract himself from his unstable family life. He ran into trouble with the law as a teenager. However, once he released his debut album, there was no looking back.

 

 11 Kanye West

Kanye West
152
Famous As: Rapper, Husband of Kim Kardashian
Birthdate: June 8, 1977
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Creative from a very young age, Kanye West dreamed of becoming a rapper since very early in his life. He became an award winning American rapper whose creativity in music is widely appreciated by critics. However, his outspoken views, comments and behaviour have quite often landed him controversies.

 12 Dr. Dre

Dr. Dre
135
Famous As: Rapper, Record producer, and entrepreneur
Birthdate: February 18, 1965
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Compton, California, United States

Rapper, record producer, and audio engineer, Dr. Dre, is the founder and CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics. He is credited with the popularization of  West Coast G-funk, a sub-genre of hip hop. After establishing himself in the music industry, he promoted the careers of many other rappers, including 2Pac and Snoop Dogg.

 13 Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston
58
Famous As: Singer, Actress
Birthdate: August 9, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States
Died: February 11, 2012

Amongst the best-selling recording artists of all time and an inspiration to millions of budding artists, Whitney Houston achieved stardom with her eponymous debut album. The success of her later albums consolidated her position and earned her a spot in the Guinness World Records as the most awarded female artist of all time. She struggled with drug abuse and troubled marriage and died of drowning in her hotel's bathtub. 

 14 Ice Cube

Ice Cube
143
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: June 15, 1969
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Crenshaw, California, United States

Ice Cube played an important role in contributing to gangsta rap's popularity. His lyrics for N.W.A's album Straight Outta Compton redrew boundaries and shaped West Coast rap's identity. Because of his lyrics, that explain black nationalism and black struggle, Ice Cube went on to influence a host of rappers and is considered one of the greatest rappers ever.

 15 Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton
89
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 19, 1946
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Locust Ridge, Tennessee, United States

Multifaceted personality, Dolly Parton is a singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, author and businesswoman and is known mainly for her work in country music. She has received various accolades and awards in her very successful singing career spanning several decades and has composed over 3,000 songs. She has also worked in several movies and is a prolific songwriter.

 16 Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey
61
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: March 27, 1970
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Huntington, New York, United States

Known for her five-octave vocal range and melismatic singing style, singer-songwriter Mariah Carey is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. She holds the record for the most number-one singles by a solo artist and a female songwriter. She was ranked second on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Women in Music in 2012. 

 17 Eazy-E

Eazy-E
63
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: September 7, 1964
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Compton, California
Died: March 26, 1995

Widely regarded as the godfather of gangsta rap, Eazy-E was a rapper and record producer. He played a major role in popularizing gangsta rap and West Coast rap by forming N.W.A, which is considered one of the most influential and greatest hip hop groups of all time. Eazy-E died at the age of 30 after being diagnosed with AIDS.

 18 The Notorious B.I.G.

The Notorious B.I.G.
159
Famous As: Rapper, Songwriter
Birthdate: May 21, 1972
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: March 9, 1997

The Notorious B.I.G. was a rapper and songwriter and is considered one of the best ever. His debut album Ready to Die in 1994 was critically acclaimed. He was murdered in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in September 1996. His album Life After Death was released two weeks after his death. 

 19 Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra
29
Famous As: Singer and Actor
Birthdate: December 12, 1915
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hoboken, New Jersey, United States
Died: May 14, 1998

Amongst the most popular singers of the 20th century and one of the bestselling artists of all time, Frank Sinatra began his musical career singing with bands and later established his successful solo career with albums like The Voice of Frank Sinatra. Also an award winning actor, he featured in movies like From Here to Eternity and The Manchurian Candidate.

 20 Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash
42
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: February 26, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kingsland, Arkansas, United States
Died: September 12, 2003

Johnny Cash, the American singer, songwriter and actor, was known for sorrow, moral suffering and redemption themes in his music. His genre was country, rock and roll, blues, folk and gospel sounds and he is one of the best-selling artists of all time. Cash had issues with drinking and drug abuse. Later he was diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease.

 21 Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne
103
Famous As: Hip-hop artist
Birthdate: September 27, 1982
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Rapper, singer and songwriter, Lil Wayne, is said to be an influential hip hop artists of his generation. Initially he was a flagship artist of Cash Money Records and then went solo. His albums are hugely popular and he has sold more than 120 million records worldwide. He has served an eight-month jail sentence for criminal possession of a weapon.

 22 Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain
17
Famous As: Singer-songwriter & Musician
Birthdate: February 20, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Aberdeen, Washington, United States
Died: April 5, 1994

Gaining fame as a member of the rock band Nirvana, singer-songwriter and musician Kurt Cobain was often heralded as a spokesman of Generation X. He is considered to be one of the most influential musicians in the history of alternative rock. He enjoyed tremendous professional success, but his personal life was troubled. He died of suicide at just 27.

 23 Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani
146
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: October 3, 1969
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Fullerton, California, United States

The co-founder of the popular band No Doubt, Gwen Stefani is a famous singer, songwriter, and record producer. One of the most decorated singer-songwriters, Stefani was ranked 13th in VH1's list of 100 Greatest Women in Music in 2012. Having sold over 30 million albums worldwide, she is also one of the most successful female artists.

 24 Madonna

Madonna
44
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: August 16, 1958
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bay City, Michigan, United States

Often called the Queen of Pop, Madonna is considered one of the most popular and influential personalities in popular culture. Having sold more than 300 million records, she is the best-selling female musician of all time. Often featured in lists like the Greatest Artists of All Time, Madonna serves as an inspiration to many musicians, singers, and songwriters.

 25 Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin
71
Famous As: Singer & Activist
Birthdate: March 25, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Died: August 16, 2018

Widely regarded as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin was a singer-songwriter, actress, and civil rights activist. Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Aretha was ranked number one on Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Singers of All Time list in 2010. Having sold over 75 million records, she is also one of the best-selling musicians ever.

 26 Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys
88
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 25, 1981
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York, United States

Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys has been active in the music industry since the mid-1990s. Her debut album was a super hit and earned her five Grammy Awards. She is one of the best-selling artists in the United States and has sold over 40 million albums worldwide. She is also known for her humanitarian work, philanthropy, and activism.

 27 Pink

Pink
119
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: September 8, 1979
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Doylestown, Pennsylvania, United States

Pink is an American singer-songwriter known for her acrobatic stage presence and raspy voice. Having sold more than 90 million records worldwide, Pink is one of the best-selling musicians in the world. A recipient of several prestigious awards, Pink was named in VH1's 100 Greatest Women in Music list. Her work has inspired many other artists like Taylor Swift.

 28 Jay-Z

Jay-Z
77
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: December 4, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Jay-Z is an American rapper and songwriter and is one of the world's best-selling music artists. His debut album Reasonable Doubt was hugely successful in 1996 and since then he has gone on to release many more acclaimed and successful albums. He has been charged with assaulting a record executive and was given a three-year probation sentence in January 2000.

 29 Justin Randall Timberlake

Justin Randall Timberlake
51
Famous As: American singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 31, 1981
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, United States

Justin Randall Timberlake is an American actor, singer-songwriter, and record producer. Regarded as a pop icon, Timberlake has sold more than 56 million singles worldwide, which makes him one of the best-selling music artists. In 2007 and 2013, he was named in Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world list. Timberlake is also known for his philanthropic activities.

 30 Tina Turner

Tina Turner
44
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: November 26, 1939
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Nutbush, Tennessee, United States

Known as the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll, Tina Turner is one of the best-selling recording artists of all time and has had a very long and successful career. Let's Stay Together, What's Love Got to Do with It, Private Dancer and Golden Eye are some of her chartbuster songs. She is also a songwriter and has acted in films too.

 31 Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson
133
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: April 24, 1982
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Fort Worth, Texas, United States

Regarded as the personification of the perfect pop star, Kelly Clarkson is a product of American Idol. After winning the competition, she went on to become a popular star and was named in VH1's 100 Greatest Women in Music list. She has also inspired other popular musicians, such as Kelsea Ballerini and Demi Lovato. Kelly is also a well-known philanthropist.

 32 Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder
47
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: May 13, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saginaw, Michigan, United States

American singer and songwriter, Stevie Wonder, is one of most influential and the best-selling musicians of all time. That Girl, Gotta Have You, I Just Called to Say I Love You, Part-Time Lover and Happy Birthday are some of his chartbuster songs. He has won many awards and accolades, including 25 Grammy Awards.

 33 Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera
46
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: December 18, 1980
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Staten Island, New York, United States

Having sold more than 75 million records worldwide, Christina Aguilera is one of the best-selling music artists of the current generation. In 2008, she was named in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Singers of All Time list. In 2013, she was named in Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world list.

 34 J. Cole

J. Cole
115
Famous As: Rapper, Record Producer, Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: January 28, 1985
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany

German born American rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer J. Cole is considered one of the most respected and influential rappers of his generation. Interested in music from a young age, he decided to become a singer when he was just 12. His debut mixtape was a hit, and he went on to release many other successful mixtapes and albums.

 35 Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson
75
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: May 16, 1966
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gary, Indiana, United States

A member of the prominent Jackson family, Janet Jackson is a singer, songwriter, actress, and dancer. Popularly known for her innovative and socially conscious songs, she was considered a sex icon in her youth. Beginning her career as a teenager, she went on to become one of the world's best-selling music artists of all time.

 36 Adam Levine

Adam Levine
73
Famous As: Singer, Songwriter
Birthdate: March 18, 1979
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Three-time Grammy-winning Maroon 5 singer and guitarist Adam Levine had started his career with the band Kara's Flowers, which went defunct later. He has also judged the reality show The Voice. Adam owns a production company and a music label. He also has his own fragrance line and clothing collection.

 37 Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye
29
Famous As: Singer, Musician
Birthdate: April 2, 1939
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
Died: April 1, 1984

American singer Marvin Gaye is one of the most successful black artists ever and his albums have sold in millions. His success reached great heights with the 1972 song What's Going On. The 1982 single Sexual Healing was the biggest hit of his career and was a chartbuster. He was tragically shot dead by his father after a family altercation.

 38 Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen
24
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 23, 1949
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Long Branch, New Jersey, United States

Considered one of the greatest rock stars, Bruce Springsteen’s catalogue of songs over many decades is unparalleled. His fame skyrocketed in 1975 after the release of his third album, Born to Run, and it reached dizzying heights with his seventh album, Born in the USA, in 1984. He was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

 39 Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah
97
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: March 18, 1970
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, USA

Queen Latifah is an American musician and actress whose song U.N.I.T.Y. played a major role in raising awareness about women's rights worldwide. Dubbed Queen of Jazz-Rap, Latifah has influenced several soul, R&B, and hip-hop artists like Remy Ma, Lil' Kim, Ivy Queen, Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill, and Eve among other artists. As an actress, Latifah has won several prestigious awards.

 40 Christopher Maurice Brown

Christopher Maurice Brown
18
Famous As: American singer-songwriter
Birthdate: May 5, 1989
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tappahannock, Virginia, United States

 41 Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie
30
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: June 20, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tuskegee, Alabama, United States

Lionel Richie is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and composer whose work with the band Commodores and his solo career established him as a successful balladeer of the 1980s. Having sold more than 90 million records, Lionel Richie is one of the best-selling musicians of all time. Also a philanthropist, Richie helped raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

 42 Ray Charles

Ray Charles
24
Famous As: Singer-songwriter & Musician
Birthdate: September 23, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Albany, Georgia, United States
Died: June 10, 2004

Ray Charles went on to become a great singer-songwriter, composer, and pianist, despite suffering blindness due to glaucoma early in his life. One of the most respected and decorated musicians of all time, Ray Charles has been named in lists, such as 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. He pioneered the soul music genre, which remains his greatest contribution.

 43 Diana Ross

Diana Ross
48
Famous As: American singer
Birthdate: March 26, 1944
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States

With several prestigious honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, under her belt, Diana Ross is one of the most popular and influential singers of all time. In 1976, Billboard named her the Female Entertainer of the Century. She has influenced popular artists like Madonna, Beyoncé, and Michael Jackson.

 44 Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers
37
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: August 21, 1938
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States
Died: March 20, 2020

Kenny Rogers was an American singer-songwriter. He is among the best-selling musicians of all-time list, having sold over 100 million records. His songs and albums remain influential among country music lovers. A multi-talented personality, Rogers was also successful as an actor and entrepreneur; he was the co-founder of the Kenny Rogers Roasters chain of restaurants.

 45 John Denver

John Denver
28
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: December 31, 1943
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Roswell, New Mexico, United States
Died: October 12, 1997

John Denver was one of the highest-selling and most popular singers during the 1970s. He was known for folk, pop and country music. Some of his greatest songs are Take Me Home Country Roads, Leaving on a Jet Plane, Rocky Mountain High, Sunshine on My Shoulders and Annie's Song. He died when a plane he was piloting crashed in California.

 46 James Brown

James Brown
14
Famous As: Musician, recording artist, producer, dancer, bandleader
Birthdate: May 3, 1933
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Barnwell, South Carolina, United States
Died: December 25, 2006

Referred to by honorific nicknames, such as Godfather of Soul, James Brown was a prominent figure of 20th century music. A progenitor of funk music, Brown influenced the development of many music genres. An inductee of the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame, Brown is ranked seventh in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list.

 47 Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong
40
Famous As: Trumpeter
Birthdate: July 4, 1901
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died: July 6, 1971

Louis Armstrong was an American trumpeter and singer who played an important role in the development of jazz. Thanks to his playing, trumpet became known as a solo instrument and jazz, which was previously known as a collectively improvised folk music, became a soloist's art form. Not surprisingly, Louis Armstrong is widely accepted as the embodiment of jazz. 

 48 Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix
21
Famous As: Singer & Musician
Birthdate: November 27, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, United States
Died: September 18, 1970

One of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century, Jimi Hendrix began playing guitar at the age of 15. As his career progressed, he became the first musician to use stereophonic phasing effects in recordings. Rolling Stone ranked him as the greatest guitarist and the sixth greatest artist of all time. He died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 27.

 49 Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan
18
Famous As: Singer & Songwriter
Birthdate: May 24, 1941
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Duluth, Minnesota, United States

Singer-songwriter and author, Bob Dylan, is widely regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Active in the music industry for almost six decades, he is a major pop culture icon who introduced a range of political, social, and literary influences to pop music. He is a Nobel laureate and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 50 Reba McEntire

Reba McEntire
55
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 28, 1955
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: McAlester, Oklahoma, United States
The Queen of Country Reba McEntire initially performed with the family band the Singing McEntires. She was discovered by Red Steagall and has since delivered 24 number one singles and 16 number one albums. She has won 12 American Music Awards for Favorite Country Female Artist, the highest to date.