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Top 15 Greatest Female R&B Singers Of All Time

Updated on December 7, 2016

#15 Alicia Keys

Born January 25, 1981 in Manhattan New York, Mrs. Alicia Keys began studying and playing music at the age of seven. Her mother a former actress sent the young songstress to music and dance classes throughout her childhood. By the age of 12, Alicia began playing pieces from artists such as Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin. By age 16, Keys graduated valedictorian of her class from the Professional Performing Arts School of New York city. Her big break came at the age of 19 where she landed a major recording deal with Atlanta Records.

She has since gone on to sell more than 40 million records worldwide and have won numerous Grammy's. Her biggest hits include "How it Feels To Fly," "Fallin", "How Come You Don't Call" and "Superwoman" among numerous other successful singles.

#14 Maya

Born Maya Marie Harrison October 10, 1979, this diva first rose to fame with her debut album in 1998. Her second album Fear of Flying became a worldwide success with singles such as "Case of Ex" and "The Best of Me". The diva has gone on to sell more than seven million albums worldwide and has become a staple in the R&B and pop world. Other successful singles from the R&B legend include "Its All About Me" and a cover of Labelle's 1975 hit "Lady Marmalade" with Christina Aguilera and Pink from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack.

#13 Erykah Badu

Erikah Badu is American award winning musician. Born February 26, 1971 in Dallas Texas, this diva have produced some of the most memorable R&B hits to date. With singles such as Bag Lady, On and On and Clever just to a few, she has defined the genre with her unique Neo- Soul style. The music legend has sold more than 35 million albums to date and has won numerous awards for her great music.

#12 Lauryn Hill

American icon Lauryn Hil is one of the best selling and accomplished R&B singers in history. Born May 26, 1975 in East Orange New Jersey this diva first rose to fame as a member of the hip hop group the Fugees. She is best known for critically acclaimed album the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Despite only releasing one studio album, Ms. Hill is regarded as one of the most influential artists of her time. Her many hits include Doo Wop (That Thang), Ex-Factor and Everything is Everything to name a few of her best records.

#11 Minnie Riperton

R&B icon Minnie Riperton is best known for her unique and beautiful voice. Despite her short life she became a spoke person for cancer awareness and bought the illness into the spot light, She is best known for her 1975 number one single Loving You. She was born in Chicago on November 8, 1947 and died on July 12, 1979. She was just 31 years old.

#10 Queen of Hip-Hop Soul Mary J Blige

Mary j Blige born January 11, 1971 in Bronx New York is one of the most successful R&B divas of all time with more than 50 million records sold to date. She began her career singing back up for artists signed to Uptown records in 1989. Her debut album came in 1993 when she released her studio effort called What's The 411. The album received multi-platinum status in the United States and else where. Since then, she has released 11 more successful albums. Her many hits include Be Without You, Real Love and You Remind Me among numerous other hit singles.

#9 Teena Marie

R&B legend Teena Marie was born in Santa Monica California on March 5 1956. She first rose to fame in 1976 as member of her band which she assembled while in high school. During this time she scored her first record deal with Motown Records. Her first major hit was a duet with Rick James called "I'm A Sucker For Your love" which reached number 8 on the black charts in 1976. She became the first white artist to appear on the iconic TV program Soul Train. Ms. Marie would go on to write and produced numerous other successful hit records which has cemented her place in pop culture. Her many hits include Square Biz, Lover Girl, Ooh La LA among numerous other hit singles. The diva died on December 26, 2010 at her home in Pasadena California. She was 54.

#8 Monica

Born Monica Denise Brown October 24, 1980 in Atlanta Georgia this R&B diva scored her first major record deal at the age of 11. She was discovered by music producer Dallas Austin in Atlanta Georgia. Monica released her debut album Miss Thang at the age of 15 in 1995.

She would go on to release numerous other successful albums. To date, the diva has sold more than 30 million records. Her many hits include "The Boy is Mine" with fellow R&B diva Brandy, "Don't Take It Personal( Just One Of Dem Days)" and "Before You Walk Out Of My Life" just to name a few.

#7 Brandy

R&B diva Brandy is one of the most successful artist of all time with more than 50 millions records sold to date. Born Brandy Norwood February 11, 1979 in McComb Mississippi this diva have released some of the best songs ever written in music. Her many hits include "I Wanna Be Down," "Baby," "Never Say Never" and "The Boy is Mine" among numerous other successful singles. Brandy is an icon of her generation. It is why I am naming her the seven best R&B singer in music.

#6 Princess of R&B Aaliyah

Aaliyah Dana Haughton was born January 16, 1979 in Brooklyn New York. She passed away August 25, 2001 at the age 22. She was killed in a tragic plane crash which ended her promising career. Known worldwide as the Princess of R&B, she has left behind a legacy few can match. Her music defined an age. Some of her greatest hits include "One In A Million," "Back and Forth," "4 Page Letter" and "Try Again" among numerous other hit singles.

47 Year Old Toni Braxton
47 Year Old Toni Braxton

#5 Toni Braxton

American Icon Toni Braxton has redefined popular culture for two decades now. Born October 7, 1967 this diva has become one of the best selling artist of all time with album sales surpassing 60 million. Her debut self titled album was released in 1993. It sold over ten million copies worldwide and spawned numerous hit singles. Her many hits include "Another Sad Love song," "You're Makin Me High", "Unbreak My heart" and "He Wasn't Man Enough For Me" to name a few.

#4 Gladys Knight

Gladys Marie Knight also known as the Empress of Soul has redefined music for over three decades now. Her unique voice and sound has inspired a generations of musicians. Born May 28, 1944 in Oglethorpe Georgia, the diva began her career as member of the soul group the Pips. Her many hits include "I Heard It Through The Grapevine", "Be The First To Say Goodbye" and "Love Overboard" to name a few. Gladys Knight is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame for her amazing impact on American music.

#3 Diana Ross

Diana Ernestine Earle Ross (born March 26, 1944) is an American singer, actress and record producer. She first rose to fame as member of the Rock n Roll Soul group The Surpremes. Throughout her 40 year career the diva continues to inspire a generation of new performers. Diana has sold more than a 100 million records worldwide. Ms Ross is regarded as one of the most prolific artist of all time. She holds many Billboard Records. Her many hits include "Reach Out And Touch (Somebody's Hand)", "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Where Did Our Love Go" among numerous other successful singles. She is a member of the Rock n Roll Hall Fame both as a solo and group artist and is a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors.

70 year old Diana Ross singing her classic hit Come See About Me

#2 Beyonce

Beyonce knowles first started her career as member of the all girl group Destiny's Child. Born September 4, 1981 in Houston Texas this diva have separated herself from other performers in today's music world. She has won numerous awards and have sold over 100 million records worldwide. Her many hits include "Crazy in Love", "Baby Boy", "Deja Vu" and "Beautiful Liar" among numerous other hit singles. Beyonce in her decade plus career has won more than 200 recognized awards including 6 Grammy's in one night.

#1 Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin

The great Ms. Aretha Franklin is one of the best selling artist in history. Born March 25, 1942 this diva began her career singing in church. She scored her first record deal at the age of 18. Some of her biggest hits came after she signed a new deal with Atlantic Records in 1967. Ms. Franklin has inspired a generation of musical artist such as Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. This diva has been inducted into several musical halls of fame. Her greatest hits include "Respect", "Think" and "I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You" among numerous other successful singles. In her long career she has won 18 Grammy's and have sold over 75 million records. It is why she is my number 1 pick for the best R&B singer in music.

Which one of these women would you crown the greatest R&B singer?

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      trojan33 2 years ago

      Wow...not sure about this list. Big no to Diana Ross, she is definitely an icon, but you should have had Roberta Flack in her place. Chaka Khan and Anita Baker are noticeable absent from your list. I know you like Teena Marie but there are many other female R & B singers even just from the 80's, that had a bigger impacted than she did. Regina Belle, Miki Howard, Melissa Morgan,Vesta Williams...etc Also some of the older R & B artist to check out are Dee Dee Sharpe, Betty Everett, Dee Dee Warwick (Dionne's sister), Barbara Lynn, Carla Thomas.