100 Greatest Female R&B Singers

R&B is a broad based genre that encompasses a wide array of elements and styles that include rhythm and blues, soul, pop, funk, hip-hop and dance. This space showcases a broad spectrum of the best female R&B singers.

While the origins or R&B are unclear, the emergence of R&B in contemporary forms has its roots in the 60s and 70s. Contemporary R&B was a result of experimentation in disco and dance music. The polished sound and textural layers in R&B songs add distinctive flavor and feel to songs in this genre. Lush vocal and music arrangements set to the backdrop of dance inspired beats have made R&B a popular genre in commercial circles. R&B songs in present times showcase strong electronic and dance beat influences laced with hip-hop. Since the 60s female singers have been showcasing their vocal prowess in Soul and R&B.


The R&B Music Genre

Majority of recording artists in the R&B genre are African-American. Needless to say the gospel and soul influences shine through in R&B songs.  A number of female singers in the R&B genre are known for their dynamic vocal range. A large crop of R&B singers are known for incorporating melisma in their songs. Since the 70s female singers with astoundingly different voice textures have been an integral part of the R&B genre. The rhythmic elements in R&B evolved over the years. In present times layout of song structures in R&B has changed a great deal. What makes R&B popular with music aficionados is rhythmic beats encompassed with elements of funk, silk-smooth-soul, pop grooves, ballads and awe-inspiring melody.

The R&B sound in the 80s and 90s

Being an amalgamation of various genres, R&B does not have what you can call a typical sound. Furthermore, while you find the rhythmic explorations of disco, R&B is interspersed with funk-laden dance friendly beats that gets your foot tapping in accordance with tempo changes. Synthesizer driven melodies, programmed drum machine beats, percussive elements, and sound effects are an integral part that form structure for lyrics and music in R&B. Hip-hop and rap sensibilities have become exceedingly popular in R&B songs in recent years. A number of all-female bands doing R&B songs emerged in the 80s and the trend continued through the 90s. R&B duets became incredibly popular in the 80s and 90s and this trend has continued. 

The R&B Hip-Hop sound post 2000

Since the 2000s many crossover artists have been bringing a new sound in the realms of R&B. While purists are of the opinion the R&B sound has shifted from its traditional roots, many industry experts also believe the change in musical direction is the way forward in reaching a larger audience globally. The foundation of R&B remains intact with layers hip-hop and rap interspersed in the length of a song. While the silk-smooth rhythmic structures form the foundation of an R&B song, there’s a lot of instrumentation with complex vocal parts that happen in the given time frame. A new breed of female R&B singers will emerge. R&B will get bigger in the years ahead, and an ultra-urban sound will make its presence in the realms of traditional.

100 Greatest R&B Female Singers

  1. Whitney Houston
  2. Aretha Franklin
  3. Gladys Knight
  4. Minnie Ripperton
  5. Dionne Warwick
  6. Patti LaBelle
  7. Mariah Carrey
  8. Diana Ross
  9. Tina Turner
  10. Chaka Khan
  11. Aaliyah
  12. Brandy
  13. Mary J Blige
  14. Beyonce
  15. Toni Braxton
  16. Mary Wells
  17. Alicia Keys
  18. Sade
  19. Kelly Price
  20. Rachelle Ferrell
  21. Erykah Badu
  22. Janet Jackson
  23. Mavis Staples
  24. Corrine Bailey Rae
  25. Jill Scott
  26. India Arie
  27. Lauryn Hill
  28. Joss Stone
  29. Monica
  30. Betty Wright
  31. Macy Gray
  32. Syleena Johnson
  33. Jennifer Holliday
  34. Deborah Cox
  35. Adele
  36. Teena Marie
  37. Anita Baker
  38. Christina Aguilera
  39. Miki Howard
  40. Faith Evans
  41. Amy Winehouse
  42. Ashanti
  43. Mya
  44. Natalie Cole
  45. Kelly Rowland
  46. Patti Austin
  47. Lisa Stansfield
  48. Chante Moore
  49. Blu Cantrell
  50. Fantasia
  51. Ciara
  52. Des’ree
  53. Ledisi
  54. Keyshia Cole
  55. Chrisettte Michele
  56. Rihanna
  57. Tamia
  58. Karyn White
  59. Regina Belle
  60. Sy Smith
  61. Cheryl Lynn
  62. Vesta Williams
  63. Trina Broussard
  64. Jhene Aiko
  65. Jennifer Hudson
  66. Natasha Bedingfield
  67. Lalah Hathaway
  68. Elle Varner
  69. Michelle Williams
  70. Cherrelle
  71. Fontella Bass
  72. Jody Watley
  73. Christina Milan
  74. Sunshine Anderson
  75. Jazmine Sullivan
  76. Conya Doss
  77. Stephanie Mills
  78. Tinashe
  79. Shirley Murdock
  80. Tamar Braxton
  81. Sharon Jones
  82. K. Michelle
  83. Jamelia
  84. Sevyn Streeter
  85. Jully Black
  86. Divine Brown
  87. Meli’sa Morgan
  88. Kelis
  89. Heather Headley
  90. Melanie Fiona
  91. Leela James
  92. Patrice Rushen
  93. Amel Larrieux
  94. Deniece Williams
  95. Tracie Spencer
  96. Gina Thompson
  97. Angela Winbush
  98. Caron Wheeler
  99. Angela Bofill
  100. Estelle Fanta Swaray

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