Famous American Rhythm & Blues Singers

Ask the young generation of today about the kind of music they prefer and out would pop the reply, ‘R&B without a doubt’! An urban style of music, R&B is a blend of jazz music and blues marked with heavy back beats. It bears its roots to the African American communities that migrated to Chicago, Los Angeles and New York during the 1920s. While the music fraternity has had a lot of American R&B singing sensations since the beginning, some of them gained an iconic status in the society and till date are known for their game-changing influence and enduring musical legacy. These American singers were known for their intrinsic style and breakthrough singing capabilities that set the tone for their storied career. And while talking about American Rhythm & Blues Singers, one cannot go without mentioning a few names that created a whirl in the music industry, be it Barry White or R Kelly, Beyoncé or Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder or Usher, Ray Charles or Al Green or the very recent Justin Timberlake or Jill Scott. And of all the R&B singers, the list still remains absolutely incomplete and soulless without the mention of the God of Music, Michael Jackson. A dominant force, Michael Jackson till date reigns as the ultimate showman of music. Read this section for information regarding the life and works of American R&B singers.

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

Vote for Your Favourite American Rhythm & Blues Singers

 1 Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: August 29, 1958
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Gary, Indiana
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 Prince

Prince.
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Famous As: African-American Singer
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.

 3 Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley.
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Famous As: Singer
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.

 4 Beyonce Knowles

Beyonce Knowles.
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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. 

 5 Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez.
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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.

 6 Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey.
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Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: March 27, 1969
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. 

 7 Justin Randall Timberlake

Justin Randall Timberlake.
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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.

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 8 Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston.
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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. 

 9 Selena

Selena.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: April 16, 1971
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lake Jackson, Texas, United States
Died: March 31, 1995

Known as the queen of Tejano music, Selena became the most famous Mexican-American entertainers during the late 20th century, thanks to her contributions to fashion and music. She is one of the most influential Latin artists ever. Her rags-to-riches story, which includes struggle, fame, and finally death at the age of 23, was showcased in the 1997 film, Selena.

 10 Camila Cabello

Camila Cabello.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 3, 1997
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Havana

Cuban-American singer and songwriter, Camila Cabello, first gained fame as a member of the girl group Fifth Harmony. She is also a solo artist and released her debut solo album in 2018. She is the recipient of Billboard Women in Music award for Breakthrough Artist. She is also an upcoming actress who has appeared in a few TV shows.

 11 R. Kelly

R. Kelly.
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 8, 1967
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

One of the best known R&B artists, R Kelly, who’s sung many chart-topping songs and has sold millions of records, has been accused of sexual abuse by many women. He and is facing several state and federal charges in the US. He was arrested in July 2019 on charges of sex trafficking and child pornography.

 12 Tina Turner

Tina Turner.
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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.

 13 Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin.
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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.

 14 John Legend

John Legend.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: December 28, 1978
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Springfield, Ohio, United States

John Legend is a singer, songwriter, actor, film producer and theatre director and his song All of Me from his fourth studio album was a Billboard Hot 100 number-one hit. He has released a host of successful albums. He has also won many awards, including an Oscar and a handful of Grammys. He is also an actor and a TV personality.

 15 Christopher Maurice Brown

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

 16 Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys.
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Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: January 25, 1981
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hell's Kitchen, 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.

 17 Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman

Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman.
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Famous As: Actress, Singer
Birthdate: September 1, 1996
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oakland, California

Actress and singer Zendaya is best known for her role in the Disney Channel sitcom, Shake It Up. She began her career as a model and is trained in different forms of dance. As a singer, she has released one studio album and several singles. She identifies as a feminist and has shown support for the 'Black Lives Matter' movement.

 18 Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato.
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Famous As: Singer, Songwriter, Actress
Birthdate: August 20, 1992
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States

Demi Lovato rose to fame with the television film Camp Rock, but became highly successful as singer when she released her pop rock debut album, Don't Forget in 2008, which was followed by many more albums seeing millions in sale. Her health issues like bipolar disorder, anorexia nervosa and drug and alcohol addictions have received significant media attention.

 19 Diana Ross

Diana Ross.
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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.

 20 Doja Cat

Doja Cat.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: October 21, 1995
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

Singer and rapper, Doja Cat, is best known for the music video for her song Mooo!, which went viral in 2018 and made her an international sensation. She subsequently went on to become a social media celebrity with millions of followers across platforms. She often kindles controversies because of her social media comments on sensitive issues.

 21 Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson.
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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.

 22 Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars.
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: October 8, 1985
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Honolulu, Hawaii, United States

American singer, Bruno Mars, is one of the best-selling artists of all time. He has a wide range of musical style like R&B, pop, funk, reggae, hip hop and rock. He is also known for his stage performances. Locked Out of Heaven, When I Was Your Man, 24K Magic and That's What I Like are some of his hit songs.

 23 RuPaul

RuPaul.
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Famous As: Drag Queen
Birthdate: November 17, 1960
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Diego, California

Drag queen, actor, model, singer, and songwriter RuPaul is best known for hosting the reality competition series RuPaul's Drag Race. Considered the most commercially successful drag queen in the United States, he is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards. As an actor, he has appeared in many TV shows and films, often playing himself.

 24 Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye.
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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.

 25 Bobby Brown

Bobby Brown.
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Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: February 5, 1969
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Grammy-winning singer and New Edition member Bobby Brown was a pioneer of the new jack swing, a combination of R&B and hip-hop, and shot to fame with the album Don't Be Cruel and the hit My Prerogative. His marriage to Whitney Houston was plagued with domestic strife and drug issues. 

 26 Meghan Trainor

Meghan Trainor.
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: December 22, 1993
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Nantucket, Massachusetts, United States

Meghan Trainor is an American talent show judge and singer-songwriter. Trainor is credited with promoting body positivity through her music; her songs often have lyrical themes based on personal empowerment and body image. Also a well-known philanthropist, Meghan Trainor works closely with organizations, such as The American Cancer Society. She also takes an active part in several charity events.

 27 Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie.
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Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: June 20, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tuskegee

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.

 28 Ray Charles

Ray Charles.
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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.

 29 James Brown

James Brown.
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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.

 30 Ciara

Ciara.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: October 25, 1985
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Austin, Texas, United States

Ciara is an American singer-songwriter whose debut single, Goodies, earned her the title Princess of Crunk&B. Her songs, Goodies and Yeah!, are credited with introducing the substyle of contemporary R&B and crunk music called crunk&B to music lovers. Also a dancer and model, Ciara has had a major impact on the American entertainment industry for the past 10 years.

 31 Vanessa Hudgens

Vanessa Hudgens.
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: December 14, 1988
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Salinas, California, United States

Hollywood actress Vanessa Hudgens’s breakout roles were Disney Channel’s film High School Musical and Netflix’s The Princess Switch, both in 2006. She subsequently went on to act in a range of films cutting across various genres. She courted controversy in 2007 when her nude photos from her phone were leaked on the internet, for which she apologised to her fans.

 32 Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah.
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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.

 33 Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill.
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: May 26, 1975
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: South Orange, New Jersey, United States

Famous rapper and singer, Lauryn Hill, is widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers of all time and a pioneer in the Neo soul genre. The artist whose album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill won five Grammy Awards, is an inspiration for numerous singers and rappers. Earlier, she gained recognition as member of Fugees, an award-winning hip hop group.

 34 Khalid (Singer)

Khalid (Singer).
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: February 11, 1998
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Fort Stewart, Georgia

Khalid is an American singer-songwriter whose work in Logic’s hit single 1-800-273-8255 earned him a nomination at the Grammy Awards. He has also received prestigious awards, such as Billboard Music Awards, MTV Video Music Award, and American Music Awards. In 2019, he was named in Time magazine's list of 100 Most Influential People.

 35 Janelle Monae

Janelle Monae.
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Famous As: Soul Singer
Birthdate: December 1, 1985
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kansas City
Artist Janelle Monae initially sang with rapper Big Boi and is known for albums such as Dirty Computer. She has been nominated for the Grammys multiple times. Monae also appeared in films such as Hidden Figures and the Academy Award-winning drama Moonlight. She is both bisexual and pansexual.

 36 Pink

Pink.
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 8, 1979
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: oylestown, 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.

 37 Jhené Aiko

Jhené Aiko.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 16, 1988
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

American singer and songwriter Jhené Aiko's musical style is associated with PBR&B, a new wave of music viewed as an alternative to contemporary R&B. Her personal life, which includes an early pregnancy at the age of 20, the death of her brother Miyagi, a major car accident, and troubled relationships, has not affected her impressive music career.

 38 Little Richard

Little Richard.
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Birthdate: December 5, 1932
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Macon, Georgia, U.S.A
Died: May 9, 2020
The Architect of Rock and Roll Little Richard is best known for his track Tutti Frutti, which was included in the National Recording Registry. His music was characterized by energetic piano and back beats. His songs broke all racial barriers and were equally appreciated by white and black listeners.

 39 H.E.R.

H.E.R..
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: June 27, 1997
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Vallejo, CA

R&B singer Gabriella “Gabi” Wilson, better known to her fans as H.E.R., had initially released a few works under her real name. However, she gained fame only after the release of her first EP, H.E.R. Volume 1, in 2016. The two-time Grammy-winner performed at the 2020 Primetime Emmy Award ceremony.

 40 Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder.
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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.

 41 Trippie Redd

Trippie Redd.
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Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: June 18, 1999
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Canton, Ohio

Rapper, singer, and songwriter, Trippie Redd, became an overnight sensation in 2017 with the release of his debut mixtape, A Love Letter to You. Many of his singles reached the Billboard Hot 100, further cementing his popularity. He has a troubled personal life and has been involved in numerous feuds and legal issues.

 42 Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke.
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 22, 1931
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Clarksdale, Mississippi, United States
Died: December 11, 1964
The King of Soul Sam Cooke is best remembered for his hits A Change is Gonna Come, You Send Me, and Wonderful World. He began singing gospel as a child and later joined The Soul Stirrers. He was shot and killed by a motel manager in Los Angeles. 

 43 Willow Smith

Willow Smith.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: October 31, 2000
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

The daughter of popular American actors, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, Willow Smith has established herself as a singer-songwriter and rapper. Mentored by rapper Jay-Z, Smith became the youngest artist to be signed to the former's label Roc Nation in 2010. In 2019, she came out as bisexual and expressed her desire to be in a polyamorous relationship.

 44 Robin Thicke

Robin Thicke.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 10, 1977
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, U.S.

The son of late actor, Alan Thicke, and actress, Gloria Loring, Robin Thicke followed in the footsteps of his parents to become a popular singer-songwriter, actor, dancer, record producer, and musician. Over the years, Robin Thicke has played a significant role in contributing to the success of artists like Christina Aguilera, Nicki Minaj, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, and Mary J. Blige.

 45 Tori Kelly

Tori Kelly.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: December 14, 1992
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wildomar

Tori Kelly was initially spotted on Star Search and won America's Most Talented Kid. She failed to make it to the "Top 24" of American Idol but later released Billboard Hot 100-charting singles such as Nobody Love. The two-time Grammy-winner has also voiced Meena in Sing and its sequel.

 46 Brandy Norwood

Brandy Norwood.
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Composer, Actor, Record producer
Birthdate: February 11, 1979
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: McComb, Mississippi, United States

The singer of chartbuster songs like The Boy Is Mine, I Wanna be Down and Sittin' Up in My Room, Brandy Norwood is known for her raspy and husky voice. Most of her songs are about love, relationships and heartache. She was involved in a car accident in 2006, leading to multiple lawsuits, which were eventually settled out of court.

 47 Fetty Wap

Fetty Wap.
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Famous As: Rapper, Singer
Birthdate: June 7, 1991
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paterson, New Jersey, U.S.
Rapper Willie Junior Maxwell II, better known as Fetty Wap, rose to fame with his Billboard-charting and two-time Grammy-nominated debut track Trap Queen. He often wears the Haitian flag. He has often found himself in the midst of lawsuits for offenses ranging from copyright infringement to assault.

 48 Paula Abdul

Paula Abdul.
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: June 19, 1962
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: San Fernando, California, United States

Starting her career as a cheerleader, Paula Abdul went on to choreograph music videos for Janet Jackson. She then tried her hand at singing-songwriting and released a highly successful debut studio album. Also an award-winning actress, Paula was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She has also appeared in TV shows like American Idol.

 49 Michelle Visage

Michelle Visage
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: September 20, 1968
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Perth Amboy, New Jersey, United States

 50 Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: February 26, 1971
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas

Widely regarded as the queen of neo-soul, Erykah Badu is an American singer-songwriter whose debut studio album Baduizm helped popularize neo-soul in the late-1990s. Thanks to her popularity, Erykah Badu serves as a subject for street art in several places, including Greater London, England. Also an actress, Badu has appeared in popular films, such as The Cider House Rules.