Top Rhythm and Blues Artists

Even today the debate still rages on – who is the greatest R&B artist? There have been so many great artists that have spanned the decades, its difficult to choose. Each artist brings something unique and the legendary stories behind them. R&B can be traced right back to the 1930s but it was not until after World War Two that it truly began to take the form that we all know and love today. Here is a list of some of the standout artists that we think helped shape R&B over the years.

Marvin Gaye

It is hard to mistake Marvin Gaye’s silky voice. His back catalogue included unforgettable love songs and used his music to raise social issues of the time. His iconic album “What’s Going On” is still as popular and relevant today than ever. Not only was he the Motown Label’s greatest singers but he could also play the drums as well. He was known as the “Prince of Motown” at the high of his powers.

Michael Jackson

With the help of The Jackson 5, Michael Jackson was unstoppable. So, it was no great surprise that the artist would go on to conquer not just R&B but the world of music and popular culture. He produced one of the most popular albums of all time in Thriller, appeared in his movie and even has games based on his work such as Michael Jackson King of Pop Slot! There is no escaping his influence, even today.


As we all know, Beyonce is a force of nature. Over the last 20 years, she has become one of the most successful R&B artists. After leaving Destiny’s Child, her 2003 breakout album Dangerously in Love pushed her career into overdrive. Over her glittering career, she has sold over 200 million albums around the world and managed to pick up 22 Grammy Awards for her work.

Diana Ross

From one great girl group to another! Diana Ross was the lead singer in Motown group The Supremes where she notched up hits such as “Baby Love”, “Come See About Me” and many more hits. before she decided to go solo in the 1960s. She then went solo and gained iconic status in the 1970s. She also moved into movies where she was nominated for an Oscar for “Lady Sings The Blues” She is known for her glamorous stage persona and paved the way for many modern female artists.

Aretha Franklin

There is only one way to describe Aretha Franklin, she was musical royalty! Nobody could come close for vocal range and quality. She was an icon to many artists and her career spanned the 1960s, 70, 80s and 90s. She is remembered for hit such as “Respect”, You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Think” and “Call Me”. Many argue that Aretha Franklin is one of the best singers to have graced the music industry.

We know that many other artists could have made it onto our list, but those on our list are without a doubt some of the most talented artists within R&B and their influence is still felt.