This list is not based only on albums sales, nor pure vocal power, this list takes into account the artist impact. Each of these artist created music that represents how we look at life, how we deal with and cultivate relationships, and some of went so far as to show how we view the world. R & B is no longer the soulful rhythm genre of music it once was. It has now been co-opted by hip hop and pop. I am sure that many people will have issue with some of the people on my list. If you’re favorite artist doesn’t have enough material for a greatest hits albums, they’re probably not on this list.

1. Stevie Wonder  is pure musical genius! Mr. Stevie Wonder is a gifted musician who has one of the smoothest, melodic, and recognizable voices to every be heard on radio, hands down. Since the age of 13 Mr. Wonder and produced hit after hit and here it is four decades, 30 top ten hits and 22 Grammys later and his music still makes us smile. He was never one to sing easy song, he sung songs with difficult choruses, abrupt stops and unpredictable changes. His accomplishments and impact on the music world is unrivaled.

2.Michael Jackson  as a 10 year-old he blew most competition young and old out the water! M.J. wasn’t just a  talent, he was a true student of music. To Michael Jackson music is art and he used his versatility to navigate musical genres effortlessly. His songs went the extra mile, with sound and vocal effects to create a deeper ambiance. Through his voice you could hear the anxiety, sadness or stress of a song, it was Jackson’s musical experimentations that led to the creation of modern-day pop-music. Michael’s voice is as distinctive, his smooth harmonic sounds are timeless. He has been often imitated (Donnell Jones, Usher, Beyonce, Ne-Yo, Chris Brown and countless others), but never duplicated!  You can also credit him with the needless explosion of choreography in videos and stage performance.

3. Prince was musically and thematically ahead of his time. Compiling ten platinum albums and thirty Top 40 singles during his career. He infused dark funk, pop, gospel soul with R & B passion. It was Prince and Michael Jackson who and sustained Music Television and music video.  He is also the uncredited father of the “text message”. Prince is an ambitious, creative, inspired musician. His off-kilter, feminine voiced songs are not duplicate. From ballads, to love songs, to dance melodies Prince did it all.

4. R. Kelly  is an incredibly gifted versatile singer. Robert Kelly can bring you from high and passionate, to a playful sing-song flow with the greatest of ease. Kells, or the Pied-Piper of R & B manages to reinvent himself with each album. He has sung songs about topics that are relevant to the everyday man from finances, to love problems, to having faith in oneself. Billboard has acknowleded R. Kelly as #1 R & B artist of the last 25 years, go figure. His collaborations are legendary and the next time you are “Stepping”, or doing the “Slide” at a club or wedding reception remember that R. Kelly made it possible.

5. Ray Charles: His records were always filled with an expressed assortment of slurs, glides, moans, shrieks, wails, shouts, and hollers that were all beautifully controlled, disciplined and inspired by his musicianship. For over 40 years Ray Charles filled us with thought and empowerment. He composed, arranged and produced his music long before there was a corporate vehicle to do so. Whether he was tackling country music, putting in Latin-esque blues motif or call and responses with the back-up singer, Ray Charles was a musical explorer who pushed boundaries and the boundaries of race, a pioneer.  He had one of the most distinctive and powerful voices the industry has ever known and it’s a shame that more people don’t know his work.

Also in order and deserving to be mentioned for the great music and contributions to the R & B genre are James Brown, Luther Vandross, Lionel Richie, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pentergrass, Al Jereau, Usher,  Ron Isley, Smokey Robinson,  Keith Sweat, Al Green,  Freddie Jackson, Baby Face,  Barry White, Jackie Wilson, Peabo Bryson, Frankie Beverly, Brian McNight, Maxwell, Howard Hewett, Jackie Wilson, Jeffrey Osbourne, James Ingram, Avant, Lou Rawls, Brian Mcknight, Musiq and Joe.

What’s  Your Top 5?

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

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Part 1

Far to often we have waited until it was too late to give the people who moved and inspired us recognition. We often give awards and accolades long after they were deserved. 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 artist, these women 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 1 of my All-Time list.

 

11. Lauryn Hill

 

Lauryn is on this list for one reason and that is The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill. Her 1998 album is what debut albums should be. This album contained musical styles that ranged from R&B, Soul and Reggae, to Hip Hop and Gospel. The album was strikingly beautifully as it blended melodies in ways never done before. Her album is the perfect example of what happens when  talent meets purpose.  The album dealt with many serious life issues, but it was never bogged down. She became the 1st women to win 5 Grammys on one night and the music world is much better off because of it.  

12. Erykah Badu

Baduizm is Badu’s highly acclaimed debut album, it was released in 1997 and debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts. The album was filled with introspective lyrics, jazz and a bass-heavy sound. Baduizm was hailed as one of the leading lights of the burgeoning “Neo Soul” genre. because of Erykah’s phrasing and tempo she drew comparisons to Billie Holiday. Her lyrics challenge listeners with their highly personal, philosophical, and political content. Her albums say everything that we want to,but never do.  Through her album she was able to weave different musical influences together to create a richer sound.

13. Toni Braxton

Toni topped the Billboard 200 with her 1993 self-titled debut album her second album “Secrets”, spawned the number-one hits “You’re Makin’ Me High”, “I Love Me Some Him” and “Un-Break My Heart” songs that live forever. Braxton’s debut album won several awards, including three Grammy Awards (for Best New Artist and two consecutive awards for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance). Braxton’s broad appeal comes from her low vocal register and her range which includes R&B, adult contemporary, saucy dance tracks and sultry ballads.

14. Rihanna

Discovered as a teenager. Rihanna has a unique and powerful carribean voice, so much so that her collaborations consist of a rapper dropping 12 bars while she sings the rest. That’s a good thing because Ri-Ri’s voice has outshined every single counterpart she has been on track with. Albums Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded and Rated R provide her a showcase; complete with R & B, soul, dance hall, pop, a rebellious attitude and risque sexual lyrics. Her Caribbean-inflected R & B has managed to escape the package the industry tried to put her in.

15.Keyshia Cole

Cole’s 2005 debut album Way It Is  landed at number six on the Billboard 200. The song “I should have cheated” from that album told the world what was to come. What came was her second album Just Like You, which is one of the best R & B albums ever released. Keyshia’s lyrics powered by her vocals connected men and women with her pain. She has spawned a thousand wannabee, but there is only one.

 

Through their music these singers can tell you more about themselves I anyone ever could, so click the links. Other impactful R & B singers: Pink, Monica, Aalyah, Brandy, Mya, Fantasia

 Part 2

(From part 2)

Photonic circuts, integrated projection, light interfaces, morph technology, but  weren’t we were promised better education, a better society and better communities? I know you’re sitting there smugly thinking ‘but we are smarter’ and that thought only serves to further prove the point. We were seduced with the possibility of more access and information. The children and the generations aren’t better, we were sold a bill of goods that didn’t deliver, well they have delivered a new addiction. Our thoughts center on the techno because we need the instant access, we need to know now. Smartphones that create hotspots and have enough power to turn into laptops and dock with your HD television and car. Soon they will be able to dock with you, you’d probably like that.  We  will continue to wait on the next ring, vibration, update or the the next big thing in technology, but haven’t we have forgotten the place of these devices?They have turned single tasking into “multi-tasking”, I mean task-switching because we really don’t multi-task. Yeah, I know you can multi-task with the best of them. We all think that we can, but multi-tasking slows you down by causing errors, sloppiness, shoddy work, and if you stop lying to yourself none of this will be in dispute. Humans are nothing without our ability to focus, that’s how we created them. And for a bonus all this technology comes with intentional blindness and the delusion that you are aware when you aren’t. Even in the movies where they show a distant future, with beyond the wildest of imaginations of technological advancement and there are still a myraid of problems not solved. I’ve seen “Blade Runner”, “Star Wars”, “iRobot”, “Minority Report” and “Demolition Man” the computerized future is not better. FANBOYS stop rubbing the device already, yeah I know you could if you wanted to.

The information revolution brought Real time, Down time, Pods, Tweets, Tabs, and Posts, but it is the adults who are the most responsible for exposing the most vulnerable and susceptible of our citizens, the children. Adults have allowed this technology in and around our babies, their schools and classrooms. Colleges require that you not only purchase a computer, but also spend hundreds of dollars on software, or fail the course. Tax payers and parents have spent hundreds of millions of dollar on the technological school, and test scores have gone down. Couldn’t we have better served the children, the community and ourselves by not being slaves to the industry. Children are growing up online, technology has shortened attentions spans and contributes to ADD. Children are now more connected to the technology than to people who provide it, this is where they gain their social experiences. The social networks can connect you with protests occurring around the world, but they can’t make you care. And with the touch of a screen they spy on their roommates sexual preferences, and then broadcast them to the world.

The greatest lie of the digital age is that you control the message. You do not control the message when your child’s second life is virtual. Children have a lack of clarity, some of them can’t play outside and become bored easily. It is true that every generation will be critizied for something, being too liberal, too obsessed with technology, too dumb. This generation is hardly the dumbest generation, however a sharp decrease in intellect is apparent, noted by declines in text scores and literacy rates.

“As the digital age has transformed the world and workforce, U.S. K–12 education has fallen woefully behind in preparing students with the fundamental computer science knowledge and skills they need for fully behind in preparing students with the fundamental future success.”- Computer World Magazine

The bottom line is that tutitions have skyrocketed, but 50% of college students have not improved. Books still cost an arm and a leg and many of them are digital. Let’s face it students aren’t getting ahead and the technology cost money, perhaps too much. New hardware is often over priced and buggy. It usually takes three or four generations for a company to get a device right, so generations 1-3 are merely for fund raising, which reduces early adopters to nothing more than self indulgent guinea pigs. If a politician promised all these things, but never delivered would we reelect them… On second thought that’s a bad analogy. However, every quarter we reelect a new cell phone, and every year a new computing device, we have been programmed to sustain a another failed industry. We have more information but racism, classism and sexism are all on the rise.  Millions of people are unemployed. The government still has secrets, Cable cost more, Violence is still senseless, Movie are still expensive to nothing of the quality, Celebrities still use drugs and wear no underwear, DNA evidence is still wrong, Music hasn’t gotten better, The elderly are still  mistreated, We still get lost in our cars and we miss our buses, but hey I can touch a screen and change a page. Different does not mean better, we have lost sight of that. All the while these companies that make and sell these products have become worldwide billion dollar conglomerates. Maybe things would be different if you didn’t have to pay for it…and worse of all poetry doesn’t read the same. We have programmed these devices to calculate everything except our fear, fear of being left behind.

The End
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(From Part 1)

Anxiety, Stress, Nervousness, Insecurity, Internet inactivity…Perhaps this is why we hide behind avatars and professional profile photos. Are our “Friends” really inside that gadget? If so, what happens to them when we turn it off? Are we really linked? Don’t look now, the App beacons. 3G, 4G, Android,3D, Windows, GUI, Laser Etched, 4K, App, Opened Sourced, Cellphones that double as tasers, omnitouch… consume or perish. Who doesn’t have a touch screen television with dashboard widgets, but we were promised the eradication of diseases, the finding of cures and the solving of age-old problems. Strangely, there are more diseases, no cures and more problems than ever before. There are those that say “Technology is not dangerous the way in which we use it is dangerous”, and as always the debate ends when something tragic happens. We were promised security, but there are even more security measures, concerns, threats and prisons. We were all promised more knowledge, but we seem a bit dumber. These machines were said to help us make decisions, but unwanted pregnancies and divorce rates are higher. 50 Billion searhces on Google each month and we still haven’t found the truth… the search continues.

Overlays, screens, processing power, virtual children, pets, exabytes, tickers, more distractions. You get a ticket for talking on your cell phone, but somehow the law doesn’t apply to police officers… it never does. And soon as we find a discrepancy, a fault, a sub routine error, we get sold on using technology to fight technology. We are, for better or worse, married to technology. It seemed reasonable to create thousands of  nuclear weapons, but now it seems unreasonable for anyone else to have one. Skype. What did you call me? Technological advancement was supposed to free us, but are we not invisibly chained to our desks, LCD, Do-dads, interfaces, whatchamacallits and doohickies? A hacker can take down Sony’s Playstation Network for a month and compromise 20 million credit cards in the process and the news doesn’t make a peep because this it the new digital way of life, where these threats are common place. Twitter beefs have real life and death consequences. Entertainers tell their followers that “Google is God”.  Nintendo’s new console wants players to “feel” shapes and objects in the game all the while we are trying to mentally project our digital self as a form of control, the illusion on control that is. Is there a such thing as technological oppression? How ironic it would be if your entire life were photo shopped…. Maybe you should post that.

Internet dependence. Labor-saving, hands free, fail, manage the inbox of the mind. We claim to treasure our individualism, but we own the same devices, made by the same companies… go figure. And now the gadets are more important than your safety, or the safety of others. Print is Dead and were it not for two wars, newspapers would have went the way of the Dodo. The web took the Music out of Music Television, which has now resorted to exploiting children for ratings, while marketing and early adopters have convinced us that with these devices is a better way to exist, than without. Revolutions in technology have innovated new ways to make a living. Yes, the world has changed, a job in the factory and mill is now one in the office and idea centers. It seems as though Tech pioneers have sparked and stunted creativity all at once. How did we get to the point when someone with a cell phone can shut down corporations, crippled the stock market and hamper our government? The technology can connect us and disconnect us, as a tool it can bring the world closer (see Egypt). The truth is that Revolution comes through the people not from the  technology. It will all begin to dawn on you when you discover that you cellphone is actually spying on you.

(Cont)…

For the last few decades the world has been blanketed with digital technology, it has been called the digital age. It is not news that technology and computers have gone global, but is this digital age what was promised to us? Sure we have devices that can process ten terabytes of data per second, but it also freezes every other time we press a button. Caller I.D. fooled us into think that this was the best way to go, and we welcomed them into our homes. There were grand promises of a utopian paper-less society, but all studies have concluded that even more paper is being used. These machines were supposed to make our lives easier, our jobs more productive, our homes happier. There were pedictions that they would make going to the DMV and court effortless. What really happened is more lawsuits, more food, drug and product recalls than ever before. On top of that just about everyone is depressed, unhappy or in denial of the need of therapy. Sure you can fall in love, date, break up and get divorced all online, but it appears that society is crumbling around us. You can see it, sense it and feel it. We have communication devices, but seemingly we are still unable to communicate with each other. What is really going on?

Screws still fall out. Drones still kill people in error. We still don’t know who in sports is taking PED’s. The media is still largely devoid of emotion, passion and intelligence. Facts are still unverifiable. The tax code is still not simplified. Cars still use roads. The political left and right are more akind to the Crips and Blood gang  fueds of the 1980’s. Journalistics standards have still not returned. The Palin’s are still popular and Dennis Kucinich is still mired in obscurity. Live shows still aren’t live. The police can go through your cell phone without warrant. Cell Phone companies still charge you and call HSPA+,WiMax, and LTE, 4G (when they really aren’t), World conflicts still kill hundreds of thousands of people and seem like video games, to those not involved. Blended classrooms only show different learning, not better learning. Earlier adopters continue to make you feel like you are missing something, as if you’re not cool because you don’t have the latest noise cancelling ear buds. Technology is still the god of many and they must submit to it. They are afraid to turn it off, they will even have accidents because of it. They will destroy relationships because of it even though the device works correctly 70% of the time. Have we forgotten that we leave bits and piece of ourselves online every time we turn on a computer device, or that to this generation privacy is now mythical a Middle Earth. With button press consent, our private information is now public? Haven’t we lost freedoms? Just to click a post.

(Cont)…

For decades Oprah Winfrey has done many things to help people whether that help came from the Oprah show’s subject matter, giving her audience members cars or opening up a school. It can even be said her 2007 endorsement of Barack Obama is what put him over the top in his bid to become president of the United States of America. First let me be clear, I know that because of the amount of hair on my face that there is zero chance that I will be on Oprah’s show. That being the case, I have no problem with Oprah at all. Oprah Winfrey is an amazing woman who has overcome unbelievable odds to become one of the most powerful and influential people in the world.

The Oprah show is largely positive, but at times it is a show of sexual anxiety, victim hood, exploitation, and dark vision of sexual relationships. Strong positive Black Men are almost non-existent on Oprah’s show. On Friday, Oprah has a live show of weekly recaps and talks about current events in a round table type of atmosphere. On Friday Jul 9, 2010 a riot broke out in Oakland California, over the police shooting of unarmed Oscar Grant, a black man, that same day Oprah was on her show eerily saying “Huuugh Jaaackmannn… I love his butt.”

What is the Message?

On Friday, March 6 of 2009 Oprah had an intervention show for Rihanna, where she famously said “If a man hits you once, he will hit you again“, in a reference to the recent altercation between singers Rihanna and Chris Brown. Many of the singers acquaintances and friends spoke out on the issue. However, Oprah, at the time, did not know Rihanna and this show was done more than a month later. Chris Brown said that since he knew Oprah and had done shows for her, that he thought that she would at least lend a helping hand and not parade him through the mud. When Bebe Winans was accused to domestic abuse Oprah didn’t cancel his appearance on her show until public protect demanded it. No one is trying to defending Chris “Fake Tears” Brown, but Oprah’s message wasn’t really directed to Rihanna, was it?

The people she supports usually sit next to her, while the opposite opinion often sit in the front row of the audience waiting to be called upon When Oprah was in Africa she said “I will not rest until every black boy and black girl has a chance to prove their worth.”, then she opened up a school for girls only.

On Friday , July 16 2010 on the Gayle King show, in referring to Mel Gibson’s tapped conversations with ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, Oprah stated “Most men in America speak to their women like Mel Gibson.” She can only know this if she has her own Talk Show Patriot Act and she might.

On an episode with Lance Armstrong, Oprah said “I never got married because I just wanted to always be myself.” Every relationship is a risk and marriage is supposed to be an partnership between individuals.

One episode stated that 70% black women are single. Seriously, is this a fact or a feeling?

Another Oprah show said that 1 out of 3 men are cheaters. This may be a correct statement, but Oprah’s shows somehow make it seem that these “Cheaters” are cheating alone, or as if the person they cheat with never knew that they were married. Raise your hand if you really think that the women Tiger Wood’s cheated with didn’t know that he was married. Tiger was dragged through the mud and rightly so, but the “Home Wreckers” are still being celebrated.


Shows like: “Men who have beaten Women”, “7 ways to end violence” and “Red Flags” are only offered to make viewers believe that Men are the beginning and end any violent act. Many claim that her shows are about empowerment, but do shows like “Wish Away Cancer”,  “A Lunchtime Face-Lift”, “Turn Back The Clock”, “Thin Your Thighs”, “Cure Menopause!”, “Erase Wrinkles”, “Banish Obesity”, really empower anything other than ratings?

You are probably saying “He’s hatin’”, or more likely “what’s the big deal. It’s just a talk show.” Oprah is the most powerful woman in media. Her show is seen in countries all over the world. So if she is constantly presenting misinformation, and one-sided opinions of males, black men in particular, then the question has to be asked; is she aiding in the racism and abuse that black men face on a daily basis? It is her show, she doesn’t have to be fair, nor does she have to be balanced, but if this is considered normal then America is not a mentally healthy nation. Men and Women are to be valued. Men are as much a part of the equation as women are. What kind of answer to do you get when you only solve half of an equation?


For decades Americans have accepted marginalization of individuals and groups, and here is where Oprah is no different. Oprah Winfrey as well as others have, perhaps unwittingly, taught the youth of America that in some respects that it is okay to mistreat someone if you can claim victim hood. These types of cycles persist in America because many of the root causes are not exposed and addressed; they are ignored, distorted, or deflected. Perhaps we all should be taking the lyrics of Travis McCoy’s “Billionaire” song to heart. In order for our nation society, in order for nation to grow everyone needs to have value. Now more than ever Americans need equality not superiority and you can put that in your Fat Wagon and pull it.

By the way Oprah telling Barbara Walters that you wished you were white is nothing to be proud about.

Part 1

Part 3