1. Aretha Franklin
Popularly known among the R&B enthusiasts as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin is the most powerful artist in the R&B/Soul music world. She has so many songs that date back decades. She has been an active artist from 1956 to present. Some of her famous hits include Chain of Fools’, Jump to It’, Respect Something He Can Feel’ and Freeway of Love’ among others hits that have topped R&B billboards. Her sheer vocal ability is unrivaled even by other prominent R&B artists. Her commercial success is also unmatched as well, having sold millions of albums worldwide.
2. James Brown
Widely known as Soul’s godfather, Mr. Please, Please, Please or Mr. Dynamite, James Brown was an active R&B artist from 1959 to 2006. He was not only an extremely charged vocalist, but he was also an excellent all-around entertainer as well. And he directly influenced the stage shows of prominent artists such as Prince and Michael Jackson among other artists that came after James Brown. His favorite hits include Try Me’, which he released in 1958, The Payback', which he released in 1974 and Say It Loud’, which he released in 1968.
3. Otis Redding
Popularly known as The King of Soul, Otis Redding was an artist with a remarkably rich and full singing voice. Unlike other male R&B artists who are famous for their buttery-smooth vocals, Redding nurtured a deeper and gritty style of singing. He sold millions of albums despite his short-lived music career that started in 1962 and came to an end in 1967. Some of his best award-winning hits included The Dock of the Bay’’, I Have loved You For Too Long’ and Mr. Pitiful’ among other hits.
4. R Kelly
Widely known as the self-declared Pied Piper of the R&B,R Kelly is not only among the most creative music writers, but he is also one of the greatest producers in the music industry. Even though his personal life has been subject to endless controversy, he, however, boasts of an unmatched record of releasing successful songs. He has sold millions of copies to date and is one of the most versatile and successful R&B artists. Some of his best hits include the Grammy-winning I Believe I Can Fly, Bump & Grind and Fiesta’. He has been active from 1992 to date.
R&B super star Usher Raymond began his music career when he was just 11 years old with a group called NuBeginnings. And no more than 2 years later did he go on to sign a recording contract after an amazing performance on Star Search. He actually impress the audience and the judge, so much so, that they immediately signed him. No more then a year later did he release his first album. I wasn't until after the year 2000 where Usher's career really began to sky rocket. Usher's single “You Make Me Wanna…”, was a global hit and could be considered that song that made him a household name.
6. Mary J Blige
There are very few female R&B artists if they are any, who possess as much energy and passion in their voice the way Mary J Blige does. The New York-born artist has won numerous awards in R&B, rap, pop and gospel categories. She is not only a versatile music performer, but she has also sold millions of albums from 1992 to date. Some of her greatest and award-winning hits include You Remind Me’, Be Without You’ and Family Affair’ among other hits.
7. Stevie Wonder
Despite being born blind, Stevie Wonder is among the greatest American R&B artists, and he boasts a huge list of R&B hit songs from 1962 up to date. He has also won over two dozens Grammy awards and sold millions of albums throughout the globe as well. He released his first hit Fingerprints’ in 1963 when he was only 13. Some of his chart-topping and award-winning hits include Made To Love her’, and Just Called To Say I love You’ among other hits. His live performances are quite awesome and full of energy and passion as well. Stevie’s creativity is also revered across the world.
These are just a couple of the greatest R&B artists of all that time. There are other artists who haven't appeared on this list yet they enjoy very successful careers. Moreover, there will be other artists in future who will also achieve lasting success in their music careers and, therefore, get huge financial success as a result. Only time will tell who the greatest R&B artists are.