Famous Black Rhythm & Blues Singers

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
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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 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. 

 3 Rihanna

Rihanna
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: February 20, 1988
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Saint Michael, Barbados

For anyone who has a penchant for music, Rihanna needs no introduction. Born as Robyn Rihanna Fenty, Rihanna is one of the most influential names in the music and fashion industry. Her effortless singing, catchy tunes and inimitable dance moves have won her eight Grammy Awards, eight American Music Awards, twelve Billboard Music Awards and two BRIT Awards.

 4 Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey
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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. 

 5 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.

 6 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.

 7 Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys
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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.

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 8 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.

 9 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.

 10 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.

 11 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.

 12 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.

 13 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.

 14 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. 

 15 Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: February 26, 1971
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, United States

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.

 16 Otis Redding

Otis Redding
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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

 17 The Weeknd

The Weeknd
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: February 16, 1990
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Scarborough

One of the most successful Canadian recording artists, singer-songwriter, the Weeknd, holds several chart records and has won numerous awards, including three Grammy Awards. Despite a difficult childhood marred by drug abuse and violence, he persevered and worked hard to emerge as a beloved music star. He is actively involved in philanthropy.

 18 Usher

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

 19 Luther Vandross

Luther Vandross
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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.

 20 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. 

 21 Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan
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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.

 22 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.

 23 Gladys Knight

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

 24 Patti LaBelle

Patti LaBelle
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: May 24, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
The Godmother of Soul Patti LaBelle is best known for her chartbusting song Lady Marmalade, released with her group Labelle. She has had a successful solo career, too, winning multiple Grammys. She has appeared on her own TV shows, released cookbooks, and has launched her line of food and bedding.

 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 Sean Combs

Sean Combs
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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. 

 27 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.

 28 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.

 29 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.

 30 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.

 31 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.

 32 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.

 33 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.

 34 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.

 35 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.

 36 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.

 37 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.

 38 Grace Jones

Grace Jones
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Famous As: Model
Birthdate: May 19, 1948
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Spanish Town

Grace Jones began her career as a model in New York and Paris, popularizing her androgynous style. One of VH1's 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll, she experimented with disco, punk, reggae, and pop, and contributed to the 1980s’ cross-dressing movement. She later appeared in films such as Vamp.

 39 Jill Scott

Jill Scott
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: April 4, 1972
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

 40 Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton
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Famous As: American R&B Singer-songwriter & Musician
Birthdate: October 7, 1967
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Severn
Soul and R&B sensation Toni Braxton initially performed with her sisters in The Braxtons. She won three of her seven Grammys with her debut album. Known for her Billboard-charters such as Un-break My Heart, she also collaborated with Babyface, competed in Dancing with the Stars, and produced Braxton Family Values.

 41 Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 17, 1919
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Montgomery, Alabama, United States
Died: February 15, 1965
Jazz pianist/singer Nat King Cole, father of singer Natalie Cole, is best remembered for tracks such as Too Young and Mona Lisa. His last album, L-O-V-E, was recorded while he battled lung cancer. With The Nat King Cole Show, he became the first African-American to host his own show.

 42 Donna Summer

Donna Summer
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Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: December 31, 1948
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 17, 2012

 43 Curtis Mayfield

Curtis Mayfield
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Famous As: Singer, Guitarist
Birthdate: June 3, 1942
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: December 26, 1999
Soul singer and guitarist Curtis Mayfield gained fame with The Impressions. His songs such as People Get Ready carried prominent social themes. The Grammy Hall of Fame inductee was paralyzed from the neck down after an accident during a live performance in 1990 but continued to record even after that.

 44 Teyana Taylor

Teyana Taylor
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: December 10, 1990
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Harlem, New York

R&B and hip-hop singer Teyana Taylor gained fame with MTV's My Super Sweet 16. She signed with Kanye West’s label and also appeared on the reality show Teyana and Iman, with her husband, NBA player Iman Shumpert. In December 2020, she announced her retirement from music through Instagram.

 45 Tory Lanez

Tory Lanez
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Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: July 27, 1992
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brampton, Ontario, Canada

Rapper, singer and songwriter, Tory Lanez’s debut studio album I Told You topped the charts in 2016. His subsequent albums, Memories Don't Die, Love Me Now, Chixtape 5 and Daystar were successful too. He was arrested once for violence and possessing a weapon. He has also been accused of shooting and wounding another rap artist, a charge Tory has denied.

 46 Solange Knowles

Solange Knowles
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: June 24, 1986
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States
Solange Knowles, younger sister of pop star Beyoncé Knowles, initially performed as a back-up dancer and wrote songs for Beyoncé’s band Destiny's Child. She has delivered Grammy-winning tracks such as Cranes in the Sky and has also won an Impact Award. She also owns a hip-hop-themed children’s merchandise brand.

 47 Anita Baker

Anita Baker
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Famous As: R&B Singer
Birthdate: January 26, 1958
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Toledo

 48 T-Pain

T-Pain
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Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: September 30, 1985
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tallahassee, Florida, United States
Faheem Rasheed Najm, better known as T-Pain, shot to fame with the US Billboard 200-topping album Epiphany. The two-time Grammy-winning artist is known for his signature use of the auto-tune effect. He has delivered hit singles such as I'm on a Boat and has played minor roles in several films.

 49 B.B. King

B.B. King
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 16, 1925
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Berclair, Mississippi
Died: May 14, 2015
Known as “The King of the Blues,” legendary musician B. B. King introduced a signature style of soloing using string bending and vibrato. His song The Thrill is Gone won him a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. He was featured on Rolling Stone’s “100 greatest guitarists of all time” list.

 50 D'Angelo

D'Angelo
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: February 11, 1974
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Richmond, Virginia, United States