The Best of Male R&B Artists Who Defined a Generation

At this juncture of music history, many exceptional male r&b artists made a major mark on its development. These vocalists became known for their strong, emotive performances that frequently integrated elements from jazz, blues, hip-hop, soul, hip-hop and more into their acts. R&B evolved by marrying classic songs with contemporary rhythms to produce something fresh yet familiar in sound and aesthetic.

What Is R&B Music?

R&B refers to a popular musical style known as rhythm and blues that originated among African-American neighborhoods during World War II. This post-war genre mixes pop, gospel tunes, blues music and jazzy beats for an infectious dance floor aesthetic with smooth vocal arrangements featuring lush vocal harmonies for added musical texture – as well as unique production techniques used during recording production processes.

Male R&B artists have written some of the greatest hits ever written for any musical genre, making their songs unmistakable classics that resonate across time and genres. This list honors some prominent names within R&B history ranging from pioneering artists such as Ray Charles and Lionel Richie, to 1970s chart toppers like Curtis Mayfield who transcended roots within genre and achieved star status, setting standards for future artists to follow in their footsteps. Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder was born Stevland Hardaway Judkins on May 13, 1950, in Saginaw, Michigan and displayed musical talent from an early age. However, as his singing voice changed with age and after temporarily taking a hiatus from music (after dropping “Little”) from 1965-1966 to pursue piano lessons at University of Michigan School for Blind. “Uptight,” his first release under his now widely recognized moniker of Stevie Wonder solidified him as an established musician.

Popular songs of 1962 included Tribute to Uncle Ray by Jim Croce

  • 1971 – Talking Book and Innervisions on Film; 1974 – Fulfillingness’ First Finale on Screen
  • Song in the Key of Life (1976).
  • Don’t Worry ‘About Anything!” (1973).
  • 1970 – “Yours to Own (I Am Now Yours)”
  • Awards: 1977, 1975 and 1974 Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
  • 1985 Academy Award for Original Song
  • 1999 Kennedy Center Honors
  • Award (1996) | Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 1996, 1975 and 1974 Grammy Award for best R&B Song
  • 1985 Golden Globe Awards For Original Song.
  • 1988 Grammy Award for the Best Pop Performance with Vocals by Duo or Group
  • Grammy Award for Producer of the Year Non-Classical in 1977

Marvin Gaye of Marvin Gaye

Marvin Pentz Gay Jr., better known by his stage name Marvin Gaye, was an influential American singer-songwriter-record producer born April 2, 1939 in Washington D.C. His soulful vocals and poignant lyrics earned him prominence among Motown and R&B music audiences worldwide – becoming an indelible legend that resonates with listeners worldwide despite tragically passing away April 1 1984 leaving behind an unforgettable musical legacy.

  • Popular Songs @ London Palladium [73 – Let’s Get It On, 1967 – United, and 1977 Live at the Palladium
  • 1972 (What’s Going On/You’re All I Need); in 1968/9 they won “In The Groove Awards (In The Groove); 1996 gave them their Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
  • NAACP Image Award and Hall of Fame Award – 1988
  • 1971 NAACP Image Award for Album.
  • 1983 Grammy Award for Male R&B Vocal Performance
  • 1983 Grammy Award for R&B Instrumental Performance
  • 1983 American Music Award – Favorite Soul/R&B Single

Lionel Richie of Lionel Richie

Lionel Brockman Richie Jr. was an artist known for his versatility as a singer-composer-album producer-media personality. Proficient across various musical genres such as funk soul rhythm and blues he excelled at seamlessly merging them. Richie’s education and background contributed greatly in crafting emotionally moving pop songs and heartbreaking ballads with great emotion that have since become iconic figures within male R&B singers’ works.

  • Popular Songs from 1985 include We Are the World, Hello Can’t Slow Down and Don’t Give Up Now.
  • 1981 was released under the title Endless Love; 1986 saw three times released under its original name Say You, Say Me; 1978 witnessed three times released as Three Times A Lady Natural High
  • 1976 was easy with The Commodores!


  • 1986 Grammy Award for Song of the Year.
  • 2022 American Music Awards Icon Award.
  • 1985 Grammy Award for Producer of the Year Non-Classical
  • 1985 Grammy Award for Album of the Year
  • 1986 Golden Globe Awards For Original Song.
  • 2014 BET Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

Michael Jackson

Michael Joseph Jackson was an iconic musician, composer, dancer, and humanitarian who challenged stereotypes while shattering records in music production and promotion. Widely considered to be one of the 20th century’s most important figures – often called “King of Pop”, Michael was widely revered. Through his songs and creative innovations Michael transformed music production and promotion.

Popular songs: Wham!’s 1982 track Beat It-Thriller also won him an Award: Wham Megamix at Thriller Megamix (1991) was Heal the World by Wham (Remember The Time, Heal the World and Will You Be There.). Wham received their Lifetime Achievement Award (LAA). Awards won: Lifetime Achievement Award

  • 1996 – Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals
  • 1983 – Outstanding Individual Performance in Variety or Music Program
  • 2004 – Participated in an Entertainment Special or Series
  • 1996 Artist of a Generation Award
  • 1989 British Video of the Year Award

Top Five Male Lead Singers in R&B Groups

Ralph Tresvant

New Edition is amongst them and won this distinction as well as MuchMusic’s Top 5 Male Singers award this year for R&B groups.

Ralph Edward Tresvant, best known for leading New Edition as its lead vocalist for four decades and later embarking on his solo career (achieving platinum sales with album Ralph Tresvant), remains an American musician and composer with exceptional versatility and musical contributions spanning four decades as both part of New Edition and as an accomplished solo artist. His musical contributions continue to amaze audiences across generations as an iconic member of R&B group New Edition as well as being recognized independently as an exceptional solo artist with career span exceeding four decades as part of New Edition and individually.

Aaron Hall-Guy

Aaron Robin Hall III, an R&B singer-songwriter of Caribbean descent, rose to prominence through Guy, an influential R&B and modern jack swing group he co-founded alongside Teddy Riley and Timmy Gatling during the late ’80s. Later Damion Hall joined them before Aaron launched a solo career with “The Truth” released in 1993.

Teddy Riley from Blackstreet.

Edward Theodore Riley is widely credited with pioneering modern jack swing, an infectious blend of R&B and hip hop music that evolved in America during the 1990s. As its pioneer and lead vocalist of Guy and Blackstreet musical groups respectively, Riley eventually established Blackstreet, his second band.

Raphael Saadiq

stars as Tony in “Toni Tone Tone!”, alongside Toni Leonetti and Tone Leoni as Tone!, along with Tony Parker who both star alongside Raphael as Tony Toni Tone! and Tone!.

Tony! Toni! Tone!, an American soul and R&B group formed out of Oakland, California during the late 1980s and early ’90s, was widely popular. Raphael Saadiq rose to fame through membership with Tony Toni Tone!, playing lead singer/guitarist duties during their platinum selling tenure as well as as its multi-instrumentalist composer member. As part of their team he contributed much towards its success – often described by fans as being their “secret weapon”.

Jason “Jase” of Soul For Real is here!

Jason “Jase” Oliver Dalyrimple (formerly Jase4Real) remains active on the R&B music scene as one of its key members, Soul For Real (platinum-selling R&B band). Soon to release their next single record entitled, “If You Feelin’ Like Me”. Both releases came out earlier in 2016.


To summarize, male R&B singers have had a significant impact on the music industry, bringing soulful vocals, emotional depth, and innovative styles to the genre. Male R&B vocalists have consistently demonstrated their versatility and artistry, from the soulful classics of legends like Stevie Wonder and Luther Vandross to the contemporary hits of artists like Bruno Mars, The Weeknd, and Miguel.

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