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 The Weeknd

The Weeknd
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: February 16, 1990
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: Canadian

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.

 2 John Legend

John Legend
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: December 28, 1978
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American

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.

 3 Little Richard

Little Richard
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Birthdate: December 5, 1932
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
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.

 4 Prince

Prince
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Famous As: African-American Singer
Birthdate: June 7, 1958
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American
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.

 5 Rihanna

Rihanna
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: February 20, 1988
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: Barbadian

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.

 6 R. Kelly

R. Kelly
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 8, 1967
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American

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.

 7 Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: August 9, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
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. 

You May Like

 8 Tina Turner

Tina Turner
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: November 26, 1939
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

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
Nationality: American

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 Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 25, 1942
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
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.

 11 Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye
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Famous As: Singer, Musician
Birthdate: April 2, 1939
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
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.

 12 Diana Ross

Diana Ross
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Famous As: American singer
Birthdate: March 26, 1944
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American

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.

 13 Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson
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Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: May 16, 1966
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

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.

 14 Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie
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Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: June 20, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

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.

 15 Ray Charles

Ray Charles
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 23, 1930
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American
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 Ciara

Ciara
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: October 25, 1985
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American

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.

 17 James Brown

James Brown
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Famous As: Musician, recording artist, producer, dancer, bandleader
Birthdate: May 3, 1933
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
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.

 18 Khalid (Singer)

Khalid (Singer)
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: February 11, 1998
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American

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.

 19 Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah
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Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: March 18, 1970
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American

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.

 20 Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: May 26, 1975
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

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.

 21 Janelle Monae

Janelle Monae
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Famous As: Soul Singer
Birthdate: December 1, 1985
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
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.

 22 Jhené Aiko

Jhené Aiko
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 16, 1988
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American

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.

 23 Trippie Redd

Trippie Redd
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Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: June 18, 1999
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

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.

 24 H.E.R.

H.E.R.
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: June 27, 1997
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American

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.

 25 Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj
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Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: December 8, 1982
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: Trinidadian, American

Amongst the most influential female rap artists of all time and one of the bestselling artists, Nicki Minaj came to limelight after her collaborations with Dirty Money Record and Young Money Entertainment. With subsequent release of her four albums, Minaj firmly established herself as a chart-topping artist. The Queen of Rap has also dabbled in acting and ventured into business.

 26 Willow Smith

Willow Smith
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: October 31, 2000
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American

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.

 27 Grace Jones

Grace Jones
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Famous As: Model
Birthdate: May 19, 1948
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: Jamaican, American

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.

 28 Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 22, 1931
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
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. 

 29 Brandy Norwood

Brandy Norwood
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Composer, Actor, Record producer
Birthdate: February 11, 1979
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American

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.

 30 Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: February 26, 1971
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American

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.

 31 Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton
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Famous As: American R&B Singer-songwriter & Musician
Birthdate: October 7, 1967
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
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.

 32 Teyana Taylor

Teyana Taylor
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: December 10, 1990
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

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.

 33 Solange Knowles

Solange Knowles
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: June 24, 1986
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American
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.

 34 Faith Evans

Faith Evans
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Famous As: American singer
Birthdate: June 10, 1973
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American
R&B and hip-hop artist Faith Evans is the first female artist to sign with Sean Combs’s label. She was married to rapper The Notorious B.I.G., who was killed in a shooting. Evans later won a Grammy for the song I'll Be Missing You, released in memory of her late husband.

 35 Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: May 13, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

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.

 36 Tory Lanez

Tory Lanez
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Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: July 27, 1992
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: Canadian, American

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.

 37 Donna Summer

Donna Summer
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Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: December 31, 1948
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
Died: May 17, 2012

 38 Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 23, 1953
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
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.

 39 Luther Vandross

Luther Vandross
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: April 20, 1951
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
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.

 40 Gladys Knight

Gladys Knight
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Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: May 28, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

 41 T-Pain

T-Pain
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Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: September 30, 1985
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
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.

 42 B.B. King

B.B. King
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 16, 1925
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American
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.

 43 Minnie Riperton

Minnie Riperton
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Famous As: Singer, Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: November 8, 1947
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: July 12, 1979

 44 Nina Simone

Nina Simone
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Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Composer
Birthdate: February 21, 1933
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
Died: April 21, 2003

Widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Nina Simone was a pioneering recording artist whose career was characterized by improvisational genius and fits of outrage. Nina continues to be an important musician and has influenced several artists like Elton John, Adele, David Bowie, Madonna, and Aretha Franklin. She was also a civil rights activist.

 45 Berry Gordy

Berry Gordy
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Famous As: Record Executive
Birthdate: November 28, 1929
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

 46 Etta James

Etta James
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: January 25, 1938
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
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.

 47 Patti LaBelle

Patti LaBelle
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: May 24, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American
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.

 48 DJ Yella

DJ Yella
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Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: December 11, 1967
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

 49 Rozonda Thomas

Rozonda Thomas
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: February 27, 1971
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
Rozonda Thomas, better known as Chilli, soared to fame as a member of the 1990s’ pop band TLC. She later founded the charity Chilli's Crew and also launched the handbag line Bags by Chilli. She has also released solo singles, produced a biopic, and starred in her own reality show.

 50 Teddy Pendergrass

Teddy Pendergrass
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Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 26, 1950
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
Died: January 13, 2010