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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
7 Sade Adu
Nigerian-British singer Helen Folasade Adu, or Sade Adu, often blends Afro-Cuban tunes with soul and smooth jazz in her music. The Grammy Award winner had initially studied fashion designing and been a model. The founder of the band Sade, she has released iconic tracks such as No Ordinary Love.
Seal is a British singer and songwriter. He has received several prestigious awards over the course of his career. Also known for his charity work, Seal has performed at several charity events in an attempt to help non-profit organizations, such as the Make It Right Foundation.
11 Etta James
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.
12 Isaac Hayes
13 Berry Gordy
17 Billy Ocean
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.
18 Leon Bridges
19 Macy Gray
20 Lauryn Hill
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 Jill Scott
24 Bobby Womack
Bobby Womack began his career with his family band The Valentinos, after gaining a record deal with The Soul Stirrers singer Sam Cooke. He later began a solo career and became famous for tracks such as Lookin’ for a Love. He also contributed to the soundtrack of Across 110th Street.
26 Johnny Gill
28 Luke James
29 Alex Newell
30 Tiwa Savage
Tiwa Savage is a Nigerian singer, actress, and songwriter. After having created an opportunity to establish herself in the United Kingdom, Savage returned to Nigeria and played an important role in elevating the Nigerian music industry. In 2018, she became the first woman to win the MTV Europe Music Award under the Best African Act category.
31 Fleur East
35 India Arie
Dee Dee Warwick was a soul singer whose career was largely marred by drug addiction. However, she found success later in her career, recording songs for Private Stock Records and RCA Records. In 1999, she was honored by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation with a Pioneer Award. Warwick is also remembered for being one of the first openly gay singers.
From losing her child due to a miscarriage following the recording of the song Gimme Shelter with The Rolling Stones, to getting her legs amputated after a car accident, singer-actor Merry Clayton has been through a lot. The renowned backing vocalist and gospel singer was also featured in an Oscar-winning documentary.
39 Jody Watley
42 Angie Stone
Motivated by her gospel singer father, Angie Stone began singing as a child. She later formed the rap/hip-hop act The Sequence and then became the lead singer of Vertical Hold. Her first solo album, Black Diamond, was a Billboard charter. She has also appeared in movies and campaigned against diabetes.
45 Kelly Price
Starting her music career as a background vocalist for singers such as Mariah Carey and George Michael, Kelly Price later made her mark in the industry with albums such as Soul of a Woman and Mirror Mirror. The Grammy-nominated singer is also known for her breast cancer activism.
46 Blu Cantrell
47 Gloria Jones
Known as The Queen of Northern Soul, singer Gloria Jones soared to fame with the track Tainted Love. She also dated British rocker Marc Bolan and played the keyboard and sang for his band T. Rex. She was driving the car which met with an accident and killed Bolan.
50 Percy Sledge
Best known for his Billboard-charting and gold-certified hit When a Man Loves a Woman, Percy Sledge began his music career with The Esquires Combo while working as a nurse. He later scored more hits such as Warm and Tender Love and received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award.