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31 Best Female R&B Singers Of All Time

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Female R&B singers have a certain flair that is unmatched in other genres. Their soulful voices and powerful lyrics can stir up emotions in anyone who listens. There have been many great female R&B artists over the years that have captivated audiences with their unique style and impressive vocal abilities.

Here are the 31 best female R&B singers of all time. Enjoy!

1. Mariah Carey

Fans and critics have praised Mariah Carey for her five-octave vocal range and melismatic style. She is among the best-selling female artists of all time, with over 200 million albums sold worldwide. Carey has had 19 number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, more than any other female R&B artist. She is also the only female artist to achieve number-one singles in three separate decades.

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2. Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston is one of the best-selling female R&B artists of all time, with over 200 million records sold worldwide. She began her career as a teenager, modeling and acting in TV commercials. Her self-titled debut album was released in 1985 and became a huge success. It featured the hit singles “Saving All My Love For You” and “How Will I Know.” Houston’s other popular albums include Whitney (1987), I’m Your Baby Tonight (1990), and My Love Is Your Love (1998).

3. Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys is a singer, songwriter, and pianist who has won numerous awards for her music. She released her debut album, Songs In A Minor, in 2001. The album was a huge success, selling over 12 million copies worldwide. It featured the hit singles “Fallin'” and “A Woman’s Worth.” Keys has since released four more studio albums: The Diary Of Alicia (2003), As I Am (2007), Elements Of Freedom (2009), and Girl On Fire (2012).

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4. Beyoncé

Beyoncé is among the most popular and successful female artists, selling over 100 million records worldwide and winning 28 Grammy Awards. Her debut album, Dangerously in Love, was released in 2003 and featured the hit singles “Crazy In Love” and “Baby Boy.” Beyoncé has since released four more studio albums: B’Day (2006), I Am… Sasha Fierce (2008), 4 (2011), and Beyoncé (2013).

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5. Rihanna

Rihanna is a singer, songwriter, and actress from Barbados. She released her debut album, Music Of The Sun, in 2005. It featured the hit single “Pon De Replay.” Rihanna’s other popular albums include A Girl Like Me (2006), Good Girl Gone Bad (2007), Rated R (2009), Loud (2010), Talk That Talk (2011), and Unapologetic (2012).

6. Mary J. Blige

Mary J. Blige is a singer, songwriter, and actress who has sold over 50 million records worldwide. She released her debut album, What’s the 411?, in 1992. It featured the hit single “You Remind Me.” Blige has since released 12 more studio albums, including My Life (1994), Share My World (1997), No More Drama (2001), The Breakthrough (2005), and Stronger With Each Tear (2009).

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7. Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson is the youngest child of the famous Jackson family. She began her career as a child star on the television show Good Times. Her self-titled debut album was released in 1982 and featured the hit song “What Have You Done For Me Lately.” Jackson has since released 10 more studio albums, including Unbreakable (2015).

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8. Lauryn Hill

“The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill” is one of the most successful and acclaimed albums of all time. It won five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, and sold over 19 million copies worldwide. Lauryn Hill is a singer, songwriter, and rapper who first gained fame as a member of the hip-hop group The Fugees. Her most popular song is “Doo Wop (That Thing),” a massive hit in 1998.

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9. Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin is a singer, songwriter, and pianist considered the “Queen of Soul.” Her first album, Songs Of Faith, was released in 1956. It featured the hit single “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.” Franklin has since released numerous other successful albums, including I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You (1967) and Amazing Grace (1972).

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10. Gladys Knight

Also known as the “Empress of Soul,” Gladys Knight is a singer, songwriter, and actress who has sold over 28 million records worldwide. She first gained fame as the lead singer of Gladys Knight & The Pips. The group’s most popular song is “Midnight Train To Georgia,” a huge hit in 1973. She has since released 11 solo albums, including Good Woman (1991) and Before Me (2007).

11. Tina Turner

Tina Turner first gained fame as the lead singer of the rock group Ike & Tina Turner. She has since had a successful solo career, selling over 200 million records worldwide. Her most popular album is Private Dancer, released in 1984 and featured the hit single “What’s Love Got To Do With It.” She also had success with the album’s title track, “Private Dancer,” and “We Don’t Need Another Hero.”

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12. Nina Simone

The late Nina Simone was a singer, songwriter, and pianist who was highly influential in the Civil Rights Movement. She is best known for her song “Mississippi Goddam,” which was a response to the 1963 killings of Medgar Evers and four girls in the Birmingham church bombing. Simone’s other popular songs include “Feeling Good” and “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life,” in which she blended jazz, blues, and pop music.

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13. Toni Braxton

We can all agree that female R&B singers like Toni Braxton have kept the genre alive and thriving. She is a singer, songwriter, and actress who first gained fame with her self-titled debut album, released in 1993, and featured the hit singles “Another Sad Love Song” and “Breathe Again.” Braxton has since released seven other studio albums, including The Heat (2000) and More Than A Woman (2002).

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14. Brandy

Brandy is a singer, songwriter, and actress who has sold over 40 million records worldwide. She first gained fame with her self-titled debut album, which was released in 1994 and featured the hit single “I Wanna Be Down.” Brandy has since released five other studio albums, including Never Say Never (1998) and Two Eleven (2012).

15. Jennifer Hudson

Since she shot to fame as a contestant on American Idol, Jennifer Hudson has had a successful career as a singer and actress. She won an Academy Award for her role in the 2006 film Dreamgirls. Hudson’s self-titled debut album was released in 2008 and featured the hit singles “Spotlight” and “If This Isn’t Love.” She has since released two other albums: I Remember Me (2011) and JHUD (2014).

16. Jill Scott

Jill Scott is a singer, songwriter, and actress whose work has been highly influential in the neo-soul movement. She made her debut with the 2000 album Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1, which featured the hit single “A Long Walk.” Scott has released four other studio albums, including Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2 (2004) and The Light Of The Sun (2011).

17. Mýa

Mýa is a singer, songwriter, and dancer who has sold over 10 million records worldwide. She first gained fame with her self-titled debut album, which was released in 1998 and featured the hit singles “It’s All About Me” and “Ghetto Superstar.” Mýa has since released six other studio albums, including Fear Of Flying (2000) and Liberation (2007).

18. Donna Summer

The late Donna Summer was a singer, songwriter, and actress who was one of the leading figures of the disco era. She is best known for her hits “Love To Love You Baby” and “Hot Stuff.” Summer also had success with the songs “Bad Girls” and “MacArthur Park.”

19. Keyshia Cole

Since she burst onto the music scene in 2005, Keyshia Cole has established herself as one of her generation’s most successful female R&B singers. She is a singer, songwriter, and television personality who has released six studio albums, including The Way It Is (2005) and Woman To Woman (2012).

20. Ciara

In 2002, Ciara made her debut with the album Goodies, which featured the title track and “1, 2 Step.” She has since released five other studio albums, including The Evolution (2006) and Fantasy Ride (2009). She is also a successful songwriter and actress. Her most recent album, Jackie (2015), was inspired by her mother.

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21. Ashanti

Ashanti first gained fame with her self-titled debut album, which was released in 2002 and featured the hit singles “Foolish” and “Happy.” She has since released six other studio albums, including Concrete Rose (2004) and The Declaration (2008). She has also found success as a songwriter and actress. She is among the best-selling female R&B artists of all time.

22. Kelly Rowland

Kelly Rowland is a singer, songwriter, and actress who first gained fame as a member of the girl group Destiny’s Child. She has since released four solo studio albums, including Simply Deep (2002) and Talk A Good Game (2013). Rowland’s R&B career has been highly successful, with both of her solo albums debuting at the top of the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

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23. Billie Eilish

In 2019, Billie Eilish made history as the first artist born in the 2000s to have a no. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart with When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?. The album featured the singles “bury a friend” and “bad guy.” Eilish is also the youngest artist ever to win a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Her song “Everything I Wanted” won the Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance.

24. Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande is a singer, songwriter, and actress who first gained fame as a star of the Nickelodeon television show Victorious. She has since released five studio albums, including Yours Truly (2013) and Sweetener (2018). Grande has also succeeded as a songwriter, with her songs “7 Rings” and “Thank U, Next” debuting at no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

25. Sheryl Crow

With her self-titled debut album, released in 1993, Sheryl Crow found success with the singles “All I Wanna Do” and “Leaving Las Vegas.” She has since released eight additional studio albums, including 100 Miles from Memphis (2010) and Be Myself (2017). 

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26. Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa is a singer and songwriter who rose to fame with the release of her self-titled debut album in 2017. The album featured the singles “Be The One” and “Hotter Than Hell.” Lipa’s second album, Future Nostalgia, was released in 2020 and featured the singles “Don’t Start Now” and “Physical.”

27. Britney Spears

Britney Spears is a singer, songwriter, and actress who rose to fame with the release of her debut album, Baby One More Time, in 1999. The album featured the singles “…Baby One More Time” and “Oops!… I Did It Again.”

28. Faith Evans

In 1999, Faith Evans released her album Faith, which featured the singles “Love Like This” and “All Night Long.” The album was a critical and commercial success and helped to establish Evans as a solo artist. She has since released six additional studio albums, including The First Lady (2005) and Something About Faith (2010).

29. Chaka Khan

With a career that spans five decades, Chaka Khan is an American singer, songwriter, and actress whose R&B and Funk roots have influenced generations of female R&B artists. She first rose to fame as the lead singer of the band Rufus, with whom she released the gold-selling album Rags To Rufus (1974). Khan has since released twelve solo albums, including Chaka (1978) and CK (1992). 

30. Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks has been a singer, songwriter, and occasional actress for over four decades. She first gained fame as a member of the rock band Fleetwood Mac, with whom she released the album Rumours (1977). Nicks has also released eight solo studio albums, including Bella Donna (1981) and In Your Dreams (2011). 

31. Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera is a five-time Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter who first rose to fame with the release of her self-titled debut album in 1999. The album featured the singles “Genie In A Bottle” and “What A Girl Wants.” Aguilera has since released eight additional studio albums, including Stripped (2002) and Lotus (2012).

There you have it, the 31 best female R&B singers of all time! These ladies have made their mark on the music industry with their incredible talents and timeless contributions.