Famous Black Rhythm & Blues Singers

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 1 
Michael Jackson
(One of the Most Significant Cultural Figures of the 20th Century Popularly Known as the 'King of Pop')
Michael Jackson
7
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 
Aretha Franklin
(One of the Best-Selling Music Artists in the World & 'Queen of Soul')
Aretha Franklin
7
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.

 3 
Alicia Keys
(Singer, Actress)
Alicia Keys
5
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.

 4 
Marvin Gaye
(Known as the 'Prince of Soul' and Popular for His Song 'Sexual Healing')
Marvin Gaye
7
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.

 5 
James Brown
(Central Progenitor of Funk Music and Referred to as 'Godfather of Soul')
James Brown
4
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.

 6 
Ray Charles
(Singer-songwriter)
Ray Charles
5
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.

 7 
Lionel Richie
(Co-Lead Singer Of Funk Band The Commodores)
Lionel Richie
5
Birthdate: June 20, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Tuskegee, Alabama, United States

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

 8 
Sam Cooke
(Singer-songwriter)
Sam Cooke
4
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. 
 9 
Mary J. Blige
(Rapper, and Actress Known as "Queen of Hip-Hop Soul")
Mary J. Blige
4
Birthdate: January 11, 1971
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bronx, New York, United States

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.

 10 
Erykah Badu
(Singer-Songwriter Know for Her Singles like "On & On," "Honey," and "The Healer.")
Erykah Badu
3
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.

 11 
Luther Vandross
3
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.

 12 
Otis Redding
(Singer-songwriter)
Otis Redding
3
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
 13 
The Weeknd
(Best Known for Singles "Can't Feel My Face" and "The Hills")
The Weeknd
4
Birthdate: February 16, 1990
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada

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.

 14 
Chaka Khan
(Singer)
Chaka Khan
3
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.
 15 
Gladys Knight
(Singer-Songwriter)
Gladys Knight
3
Birthdate: May 28, 1944
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
 16 
Jamie Foxx
(Best Known for His Portrayal of Ray Charles in the Biopic 'Ray')
Jamie Foxx
4
Birthdate: December 13, 1967
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Terrell, Texas, United States

Actor, singer-songwriter, and comedian, Jamie Foxx became internationally famous for his portrayal of Ray Charles in the biographical film Ray, a role that earned him an Academy Award. He is also known for hosting his own television sitcom, The Jamie Foxx Show. Besides acting, he is also a Grammy Award-winning musician who has released four albums.

 17 
Patti LaBelle
4
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.
 18 
Frank Ocean
(Rapper and Grammy Award Winner for His Album 'Channel Orange')
Frank Ocean
4
Birthdate: October 28, 1987
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Long Beach, California, United States

Regarded as one of the most acclaimed musical artists of his generation, Frank Ocean is recognized for his unconventional production techniques and wide vocal range. He is credited with revitalizing and popularizing jazz and funk-influenced R&B. He is also regarded as a representative of alternative R&B. He was named in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world list.

 19 
Jennifer Hudson
(Singer & Actress Known for Her Role in the Musical 'Dreamgirls')
Jennifer Hudson
4
Birthdate: September 12, 1981
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Jennifer Hudson shot to fame after reaching the finals of the third season of American Idol. She is known for her Academy Award-winning role of Effie White in Dreamgirls. She also won the Grammy twice, one for her self-titled debut album and the other for the musical The Color Purple
 20 
H.E.R.
(R&B Singer Known for Her Abum 'H.E.R')
H.E.R.
5
Birthdate: June 27, 1997
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Vallejo, California, United States

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.

 21 
Ciara
(Singer)
Ciara
5
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.

 22 
Akon
(Solo R&B and Hip-Hop Artist to Hold Both No.1 & No.2 Position at Billboard Hot 100 Simultaneously Twice)
Akon
4
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.

 23 
Khalid (Singer)
(Best Known for His Debut Studio Album 'American Teen')
Khalid (Singer)
6
Birthdate: February 11, 1998
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Fort Stewart, Georgia, United States

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.

 24 
Jill Scott
(Singer-songwriter)
Jill Scott
3
Birthdate: April 4, 1972
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
 25 
Janelle Monae
(Singer-songwriter)
Janelle Monae
6
Birthdate: December 1, 1985
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kansas City, Kansas, United States
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.
 26 
Keke Palmer
(Best Known for Her Role in the Film ‘Akeelah and the Bee’ and the Sitcom 'True Jackson, VP')
Keke Palmer
3
Birthdate: August 26, 1993
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Harvey, Illinois, United States

Keke Palmer is an American actress, television personality, and singer. In 2019, she was recognized by Time magazine as one of the 100 celebrities who are shaping the future of health, entertainment, business, politics, and more. Palmer, who has been open about her struggle with depression and anxiety, supports movements, such as Black Lives Matter.

 27 
Donna Summer
(Singer-Songwriter)
Donna Summer
3
Birthdate: December 31, 1948
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 17, 2012
 28 
Curtis Mayfield
(Singer, Guitarist)
Curtis Mayfield
5
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.
 29 
Nat King Cole
(Singer and Jazz Pianist Best Known His Soft Baritone Voice)
Nat King Cole
3
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.
 30 
Anita Baker
(R&B Singer)
Anita Baker
3
Birthdate: January 26, 1958
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Toledo
 31 
Vanessa Williams
3
Birthdate: March 18, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bronx, New York, United States
 32 
B.B. King
(Singer-songwriter)
B.B. King
3
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.
 33 
Minnie Riperton
(Singer, Singer-songwriter)
Minnie Riperton
3
Birthdate: November 8, 1947
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: July 12, 1979
 34 
D'Angelo
(Singer-songwriter)
D'Angelo
4
Birthdate: February 11, 1974
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Richmond, Virginia, United States
 35 
Jordin Sparks
(Pop Singer Who Became Famous at Age Seventeen When She Won Season Six of 'American Idol')
Jordin Sparks
3
Birthdate: December 22, 1989
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Jordin Sparks was the youngest American Idol winner, at 17. She released Billboard Hot 100-charting singles such as Tattoo and No Air, the latter with Chris Brown. Named to VH1’s 100 Greatest Women in Music list, she has also launched her own perfume and performed on stage and on screen.
 36 
Berry Gordy
(Record Executive)
Berry Gordy
4
Birthdate: November 28, 1929
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Detroit, MichiganDetroit, Michigan, United States
 37 
Jorja Smith
(Singer Best Known for Her Debut Album 'Lost & Found')
Jorja Smith
3
Birthdate: June 11, 1997
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Walsall, West Midlands, England, United Kingdom

Jorja Smith is an English singer-songwriter whose first studio album Lost & Found featured on the UK Albums Chart, peaking at third position. One of the youngest and most exciting talents in the music world, Smith is the recipient of the 2018 Brit Critics' Choice Award. In 2019, she won the Best British Female Artist award at the Brit Awards.

 38 
Bryson Tiller
(Best Known for Hit Single 'Don't')
Bryson Tiller
3
Birthdate: January 2, 1993
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Louisville, Kentucky, United States

Bryson Tiller is an American rapper and singer-songwriter. After achieving success with his debut single Don't, Tiller went on to sign a deal with RCA Records and then came up with his debut album Trapsoul, which peaked at the eighth position on the Billboard 200 chart. Since then, he hasn’t looked back and has performed alongside the likes of Rihanna.

 39 
Jermaine Jackson
(Singer-songwriter)
Jermaine Jackson
3
Birthdate: December 11, 1954
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Gary, Indiana, United States
 40 
Teddy Pendergrass
3
Birthdate: March 26, 1950
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kingstree, South Carolina, USA
Died: January 13, 2010
 41 
Normani Hamilton
(Member of One of the Best-Selling Girl Groups of All Time 'Fifth Harmony')
Normani Hamilton
3
Birthdate: May 31, 1996
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States

Normani Hamilton is an American dancer and singer. Hamilton, who was part of the popular girl group Fifth Harmony, has won several awards, such as BMI Awards and iHeartRadio Music Awards. Also a philanthropist, Hamilton has been involved with charities like the Ryan Seacrest Foundation. Since 2017, she has been serving as a global ambassador for the American Cancer Society.

 42 
Summer Walker
3
Birthdate: April 11, 1996
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
 43 
Billy Ocean
(Recording Artist)
Billy Ocean
3
Birthdate: January 21, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Fyzabad

Billy Ocean is a recording artist who achieved popularity in the 1980s when he became the most famous Trinidad–British R&B singer. Over the years, he has also been one of the most prominent supporters of the Rastafari movement. In the 2020 New Year Honours, Billy Ocean was appointed MBE for services to music.

 44 
Rozonda Thomas
3
Birthdate: February 27, 1971
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
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.
 45 
Keyshia Cole
(American Singer, Songwriter and TV Personality Known for Her Albums ‘The Way It Is’ and ‘Just Like You’)
Keyshia Cole
3
Birthdate: October 15, 1981
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Oakland, California, United States

With her vocal range of a soprano, Keyshia Cole became a successful singer right with her 2005 debut album, The Way It Is, which sold 1.6 million copies. Her subsequent albums like Just Like You and A Different Me were also well received. She is also a songwriter and television producer who brought out a successful documentary series on herself. 

 46 
Jackie Wilson
3
Birthdate: June 9, 1934
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Detroit
Died: January 21, 1984
 47 
Nina Simone
(One of the Most Influential Musical Artists of the 20th Century)
Nina Simone
0
Birthdate: February 21, 1933
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tryon, North Carolina, United States
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.

 48 
Jackie Jackson
(Singer best known as a founding member of the Jackson 5)
Jackie Jackson
3
Birthdate: May 4, 1951
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gary, Indiana, United States
 49 
Marques Houston
3
Birthdate: August 4, 1981
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA
 50 
Tionne Watkins
(Singer-Songwriter who rose to Fame as Member of the Girl-Group 'TLC')
Tionne Watkins
3
Birthdate: April 26, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Des Moines, Iowa, United States