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.
4
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 Prince

Prince.
8
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 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. 

 4 Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston.
4
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. 

 5 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. 

 6 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.

 7 Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande.
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Famous As: Singer, Actress
Birthdate: June 26, 1993
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Boca Raton, Florida, United States

A talented youngster, Ariana Grande first stepped into the world of entertainment through Broadway musical 13 and later shot to fame with television series Victorious and its spinoff, Sam & Cat. Her television series also kick started her musical career which flourished with the release of her five commercially successful and critically applauded albums and collaborations with various other artists.

You May Like

 8 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.

 9 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.

 10 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.

 11 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

 12 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.

 13 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.

 14 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.

 15 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.

 16 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.

 17 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.

 18 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.

 19 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.

 20 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. 

 21 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.

 22 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.

 23 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.

 24 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.

 25 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.

 26 Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu.
3
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.

 27 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.

 28 Otis Redding

Otis Redding.
3
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 9, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dawson, Georgia, United States
Died: December 10, 1967
The King of Soul Otis Redding, who had performed with the Pinetoppers, among others, is remembered for his track (Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay, released after his death in a plane crash. It became the first posthumous Billboard R&B- and Hot 100-topping record. He also won two posthumous Grammys

 29 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.

 30 Mary J. Blige

Mary J. Blige.
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 11, 1971
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York City, New York

Mary J. Blige is a popular singer-songwriter and actress. Having sold 80 million records worldwide, she is one of the best-selling female artists of all time. Referred to as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary is credited with influencing the fusion of R&B and hip hop. She often gets featured in lists like The 100 Greatest Women in Music.

 31 Sean Combs

Sean Combs.
5
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: November 4, 1969
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Three-time Grammy-winning hip-hop legend Sean Combs, known to fans as Puffy, Puff Daddy, or Diddy, started off as a talent director with Uptown and then launched his own record label. His debut album, No Way Out, was certified 7Xplatinum, and his song I'll Be Missing You topped the Billboard charts. 

 32 Usher

Usher.
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Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: October 14, 1978
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, United States

 33 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.

 34 Luther Vandross

Luther Vandross.
3
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: April 20, 1951
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City
Died: July 1, 2005

Luther Vandross was an American record producer and singer-songwriter. As a background vocalist, Vandross contributed to the success of several songs recorded by artists like David Bowie, Diana Ross, and Judy Collins. Regarded as a singer with one of the greatest voices in recorded history, Luther Vandross' works have influenced many artists like D'Angelo, Jaheim, Ne-Yo, John Legend, and Usher.

 35 Jhené Aiko

Jhené Aiko.
4
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.

 36 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.

 37 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.

 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 Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan.
3
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 23, 1953
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois
Ten-time Grammy-winning funk/R&B/disco artist Chaka Khan, or the Queen of Funk, soared to fame as the frontwoman of the band Rufus. Known for her hit track I Feel for You, Khan has sold 70 million records and has ranked 17th on VH1’s 100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll list.

 40 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. 

 41 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.

 42 Trippie Redd

Trippie Redd.
4
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.

 43 Akon

Akon.
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: April 16, 1973
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Akon is one of the most successful R&B, hip hop and rap singers in the world. His albums Trouble, Konvicted, Freedom, El Negreeto and Akonda have many chartbusters songs. He has also founded record labels Akonik Label Group, KonLive Distribution and Konvict Mizik. He courted controversy in 2007 for an onstage act involving simulated sex with a 15-year-old girl.

 44 Dionne Warwick

Dionne Warwick
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Famous As: Singer & Actress
Birthdate: December 12, 1940
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: City of Orange, New Jersey, United States

Dionne Warwick is an American singer, TV host, actress, and former FAO Goodwill Ambassador. Warwick was one of the most successful singers between 1955 and 1999, ranking among the 40 biggest hitmakers according to the Billboard Hot 100. 80 of her singles have been featured on Billboard's music charts, making Warwick one of the most-charted female singers in history. 

 45 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.

 46 Bill Withers

Bill Withers.
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Famous As: American singer-songwriter
Birthdate: July 4, 1938
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Slab Fork

Soul and R&B legend Bill Withers is best remembered for hits such as Ain't No Sunshine and Lean on Me. The three-time Grammy Award-winner also inspired the documentary Still Bill. A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Bill moved on to other jobs after his 15-year music career. 

 

 47 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.

 48 Etta James

Etta James.
3
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: January 25, 1938
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States
Died: January 20, 2012

Etta James was an American singer whose powerful, deep voice bridged the gap between rock and roll and rhythm and blues. Her ability to perform in various genres earned her a spot in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Singers of All Time list. Her work has influenced several musicians, including Christina Aguilera, Diana Ross, Janis Joplin, Adele, and Rita Ora.

 49 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.

 50 Gladys Knight

Gladys Knight
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Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: May 28, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States