Far to often we have waited until it was too late to give the people who moved and inspired us recognition. These artist have made us feel, think and move. Many have shown us that it is okay to be human and that we are not alone. If nothing else perhaps these artist will be rediscovered by some or seen in a new way by others. We have grown up with R & B, we have watched it blend soul and jazz elements, we have seen it nod heads with hip hop grooves and dance with pop beats. I have created this list not based solely on sales, emotions, but more so on impact. Having one hit may not help, while dropping a classic album does. These women, these artist had guts, creativity and range. They did not allow music to power the song while they fell back, they were the songs and without them Rhythm & Blues would not be the same. A lot of women have contributed to R & B, here is part 2 of my All-Time list.
6. Mary J. Blige
What’s the 411 defined what a debut albums should be, garnering nine Grammy Awards and four American Music Awards. Blige has recorded eight multi-platinum albums. She has received the World Music Legends Award. Her debut album “What’s the 411” combined her tough girl personal, street wise lyrics, soulful voice with jagged hip hop beats, it was underappreciated at the time, but remains Soul’s first exploration into Hip Hop. Not many certified soul singers have been able to keep up with pop-culture, Mary J. has and inspired thousands of copycat vocalist in the process.
7. Anita Baker
She has eight Grammy Awards. Anita can not only connect with an audience like no other, but she can out sing just about everyone on this list. She helped define urban contemporary music “Quite Storm”, with sophisticated, tradition-oriented soul and R & B. Her music has always been filled with thought, jazz and sadness. Anita Baker’s songs “Sweet Love”, “You bring me joy”, “Giving you the best that I got” and “Good Love” are songs that will live forever.
8. Beyonce (“B”, Sasha Fierce)
The hardest working singer on the list and it shows in her music and her videos. Beyonce’s debut solo album “Dangerously in Love” in 2003, spawned the number one hits “Baby Boy and “Crazy in Love” and became one of the most successful albums of that year, earning her five Grammy Awards. She is one of the most honored artists by the Grammys with a total of 16 Grammy Awards Beyonce’s music is always anthem filled to perfection. She is one of the most downloaded and imitated R & B artist today. With each albums she offers something new whether she is mixing pop and funk, singing ballads or introducing us to alternative personalities, Beyonce has done it all.
9. Mariah Carey (Butterfly, Mimi, MC)
She is often thought to be too pop, but Mariah has sold more than 200 million albums. Mariah has always offered diversely soul ballads and collaborations with R&B and rap heavyweights. She is a mix between Whitney Houston and Celien Dion and thus she bridges the gap from soulful ballad to hip-hop to pop. However, unlike Celine and Houston, Mariah writes and produces her own songs. With a uncomparable 5 octave vocal range and a willingness to often tackle social theme Carey displays guts to go along with her talent. Her songs often display a playful mastery of high range vocal ability, which often puts Mariah is in a category few can achieve
10. Alicia Keys
Her music has been uncompromising, as she is distinctively respected. Her debut album, “Songs in A Minor” sold over 12 million copies. She was the best-selling new artist of 2001 He debut album earned her five Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year and Best New Artist of 2002. He second album, “The Diary of Alicia Keys”, sold eight million copies, and gained her four more Grammy Awards. The accomplished pianist incorporates classical piano into almost every track. Her songs of female empowerment, triumph, heartbreak and love are felt worldwide. Passionate, raw and strong her voice and talent are not to be denied.
R & B Singers of note: Tina Marie, Janet Jackson, Ashanti, Jill Scott, Faith Evans, Sade, Chrisette Michelle