Archive for the ‘R&B’ Category

Top 5 R&B Female Singers

These women offered signature sounds during a time when there was a place in popular music for vocalists who sounded like themselves.


Phyllis Hyman


Phyllis Hyman is my favorite singer of all time.  Her haunting and pain soaked vocals stand alone and have yet to be duplicated.  I once heard a critic compare her voice to a stained glass window.  Hyman could wring the emotion out of any note in any octave. She could bring you really low or lift you higher than you thought possible.  She believed in the listener accompanying her on her journey. Often, that journey was a walk through the ups and downs of love.

Anita Baker


Anita Baker is The Songstress.  Her sweet alto broke through barriers in modern music and inspired up and coming singers to embrace their lower range.  The quality of Baker’s vocal soaks through every lyric.  She leaves behind a deafening silence when she’s not recording.

Chaka Khan


When I think Chaka Khan, I think powerhouse. She makes it look so easy.  Chaka has never been one to bend over painfully belting out her dynamic range; she just smiles as her notes effortlessly flow as long or as high as she feels necessary.  Chaka Kahn is one of the most imitated vocalists in modern R&B but there is nothing like the original.  When she first stepped on the national music scene as a member of Rufus she was compared to Sly Stone, a male singer.  Now it’s clear, there is no comparison of any kind to Chaka Kahn.

Angela Bofill


Angela Bofill is one of my favorites.  Her dramatic delivery jelled perfectly with what were often theatrical musical backdrops.  Bofill is a visual singer, songwriter and percussionist.  The innocence in Angie’s voice can turn on you so quickly; making it easy to understand why she had to repeat her promises to be sweeter.  She’s more than the first Latina to have chart-topping success in Rhythm and Blues music; she’s an original soul sister.

Patti LaBelle


Patti LaBelle and her former group, Labelle, will appear on another one of my “top 5” lists as well.  She’s one of those artists who I feel is impossible to categorize.  She stands alone.  Patti’s voice is not only unmistakable; it’s necessary.  While everyone knows she can take it to church, Ms. Patti can also sing you a lullaby.  From her legendary stage performances to her signature classics, the love is in the details and Patti gives a lot of love.


Top 5 R&B Male Singers

Marvin Gaye

Marvin Sample

Marvin Gaye’s silky voice, groundbreaking lyrics, compositions and fight for artistic control have inspired an entire generation of musicians.  In my opinion, Marvin’s influence birthed neo-soul long before the genre or even some of its artists existed.  Marvin walked the line between sex and political relevance before we knew there was a line to be walked; and he did so as a man.  He set the stage; he showed way.

Luther Vandross

A House is Not a Home

My favorite thing about Luther Vandross was his ability to take an old song and make it completely his own.  His vocal styling, arrangements and attention to detail were always in a class by itself.  When I really began paying attention to music as a teen, Luther is who I played over and over again.  In R&B music he is to me what The Godfather is to film, the standard.


Eddie Kendricks

Eddie Kendricks Sample

As founding member and original lead singer of The TemptationsEddie Kendricks‘ falsetto changed the sound of American music.  As a solo artist, he created some of the most sampled music of today.  On the day of Michael Jackson‘s death, in an interview Smokey Robinson listed Kendricks right behind Marvin Gaye as an example of another great artists gone too soon.

Will Downing

Will Downing Sample

Will Downing’s sexy low octaves can tickle a song or grab it tightly; wherever he decides to take you, you know it’s going to be good.  From jazz standards to R&B classics, Will is one of the most underrated talents in music.

Alexander O’Neal

O\’Neal Sample

R&B needs Alexander O’Neal back.  His rough and rugged vocals cut through the refinement of male R&B singers in the 80’s.  He was a muse for producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis; it showed in every song they produced for him.  Alex’s vocal interpretation of their lyrics is one of a kind and his adlibs are flawless.