African-American singer-songwriters

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  1. Chris Brown

    Chris Brown


    Christopher Maurice "Chris" Brown (born May 5, 1989) is an American recording artist, dancer and actor. Born in Tappahannock, Virginia, he taught himself to sing and dance at a young age and was involved in his church choir and several local talent shows. Having signed with Jive Records in 2004, Brown released his self-titled debut studio album the following year. It peaked at number two on the US Billboard 200 and was later certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). With his first single "Run It!" peaking atop the US Billboard Hot 100, Brown became the first male artist as a lead since Diddy in 1997 to have his debut single top the chart. His second album Exclusive (2007) spawned his second Hot 100 number one "Kiss Kiss", in addition to "With You" and "Forever". The album was also certified double platinum by the RIAA.

  2. Prince



    Prince Roger Nelson (born June 7, 1958), known by his mononym Prince, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and actor, a major figure in popular music for over three decades. Prince is renowned as an innovator and is widely known for his eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence, and wide vocal range. He is widely regarded as the pioneer of Minneapolis sound. His music combines rock, R&B, soul, funk, hip hop, disco, psychedelia, jazz, and pop.

  3. R. Kelly

    R. Kelly


    Robert Sylvester Kelly (born January 8, 1967), known professionally as R. Kelly, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, rapper and former professional basketball player. A native of Chicago, Illinois, often referred to as the King of R&B, Kelly began performing during the late 1980s and debuted in 1992 with the group Public Announcement. In 1993, Kelly went solo with the album 12 Play. He is known for a collection of major hit singles including "Bump N' Grind", "Your Body's Callin'", "I Believe I Can Fly", "Gotham City", "Ignition (Remix)", "If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time", "The World's Greatest", "I'm a Flirt (Remix)", and the hip-hopera "Trapped in the Closet". In 1998, Kelly won three Grammy Awards for "I Believe I Can Fly". His distinctive sound and style has influenced numerous hip hop and contemporary R&B artists. Kelly became the first music star to play professional basketball, when he got signed in 1997.

  4. Jamie Foxx

    Jamie Foxx


    Eric Marlon Bishop (born December 13, 1967), known professionally as Jamie Foxx, is an American actor, singer, comedian, writer, and producer.

  5. Janet Jackson

    Janet Jackson


    Janet Damita Jo Jackson (born May 16, 1966) is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Known for a series of sonically innovative, socially conscious and sexually provocative records, as well as elaborate stage shows, television and film roles, she has been a prominent figure in popular culture for over 25 years. The youngest child of the Jackson family, she began her career with the variety television series The Jacksons in 1976 and went on to appear in other television shows throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, including Good Times and Fame.

  6. Lionel Richie

    Lionel Richie


    Lionel Brockman Richie, Jr. (born June 20, 1949) is an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer and actor. Beginning in 1968, he was a member of the musical group Commodores signed to Motown Records. Richie made his solo debut in 1982 with the album Lionel Richie and the number-one hit "Truly". He has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the world's best-selling artists of all time.

  7. Jimi Hendrix

    Jimi Hendrix


    James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Although his mainstream career spanned only four years, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as "arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music".

  8. Luther Vandross

    Luther Vandross


    Luther Ronzoni Vandross, Jr. (April 20, 1951 – July 1, 2005) was an American singer, songwriter and record producer. Throughout his career, Vandross was an in demand background vocalist for several different artists including Judy Collins, Chaka Khan, Bette Midler, Diana Ross, David Bowie, Barbra Streisand, Ben E. King, and Donna Summer. He later became the lead singer of the group Change, which released its certified gold debut album, The Glow of Love, in 1980 on Warner Bros. Records. After Vandross left the group, he was signed to Epic Records as a solo artist and released his debut solo album, Never Too Much, in 1981.

  9. Jill Scott

    Jill Scott


    Jill Scott (born April 4, 1972) is an American singer-songwriter, model and actress. Her 2000 debut, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1, went platinum, and the followups Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2 (2004) and The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3 (2007) both achieved gold status. She made her cinematic debut in the films Hounddog and Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? in 2007. Scott released her fourth album The Light of the Sun. Get On Up (2014) she plays the second wife of James Brown. She also appeared as the lead role in the BBC/HBO series The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. In 2015, she had released her fifth album Woman.

  10. Marvin Gaye

    Marvin Gaye


    Marvin Gaye (/ɡ/; born Marvin Pentz Gay Jr.; April 2, 1939 – April 1, 1984) was an American singer, songwriter, and musician. Gaye helped to shape the sound of Motown in the 1960s, first as an in-house session player and later as a solo artist with a string of hits, including How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) and I Heard It Through the Grapevine, and duet recordings with Mary Wells, Kim Weston, and Tammi Terrell, later earning the titles Prince of Motown and Prince of Soul.



    William James Adams Jr. (born March 15, 1975), better known by his stage name (pronounced "Will I Am"), is an American singer, songwriter, rapper, entrepreneur, actor, musician, record producer, and philanthropist. He is best known as a founding member of the hip hop and pop band The Black Eyed Peas, with whom he has received seven Grammy Awards, eight American Music Awards, a Billboard Music Award, a Teen Choice Award, two MTV Video Music Awards and three World Music Awards.

  12. John Legend

    John Legend


    John Roger Stephens (born December 28, 1978), better known by his stage name John Legend, is an American singer, songwriter, and actor. He has won nine Grammy Awards, one Golden Globe, and one Academy Award. In 2007, Legend received the special Starlight Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

  13. Brian McKnight

    Brian McKnight


    Brian McKnight (born June 5, 1969) is an American R&B singer-songwriter, arranger, producer, and musician. He is a multi-instrumentalist who plays eight instruments including piano, guitar, bass guitar, percussion, trombone, tuba, flugelhorn and trumpet. He is one of the very few leggiero tenors in the pop genre. McKnight is perhaps most recognized for his strong falsetto and belting range. McKnight's work has earned him 16 Grammy Awards nominations, though he has never won. He is tied with Snoop Dogg for the record of most Grammy nominations without a win.

  14. Solange Knowles

    Solange Knowles


    Solange Piaget Knowles (born June 24, 1986) is an American singer, songwriter, model, and actress. Knowles was born in Houston, Texas to Mathew and Tina Knowles, both of whom left their careers to support her older sister Beyoncé's recording interests. Expressing an interest in music from an early age, Knowles had several temporary stints in Destiny's Child, before signing with her father's Music World Entertainment label. Aged sixteen, Knowles released her first studio album Solo Star (2003) to moderate commercial and critical success.

  15. Mary J. Blige

    Mary J. Blige


    Mary Jane Blige (/ˈblʒ/; born January 11, 1971) is an American singer, songwriter, model, record producer and actress. Starting her career as a background singer on Uptown Records in 1989, Blige released her first album, What's the 411?, in 1992, and has released 11 studio albums since and made over 150 guest appearances on other albums and soundtracks.

  16. Omarion Grandberry

    Omarion Grandberry


    Omari Ishmael Grandberry (born November 12, 1984), better known as Omarion, is an American R&B singer, songwriter, dancer and actor. He is best known as being the lead singer of R&B boy band B2K. Managed by Christopher B. Stokes, the group achieved success with hits like "Bump, Bump, Bump" which reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. After the group's disbandment, Omarion released his debut solo album O (2005). The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 spawning two hits, "O" and "Touch". Omarion received a Grammy Award nomination for the album at the 48th Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary R&B Album. His second solo album, 21 (2006), contained the hits "Entourage" and his highest charting single to date "Ice Box", which reached the Top 20 on Billboard Hot 100. His third album Ollusion (2010) was released January 12, 2010 with the lead single "I Get It In". His fourth album, Sex Playlist (2015), spawned the second highest charting single of his career, "Post to Be", which was certified platinum and reached the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

  17. Stevie Wonder

    Stevie Wonder


    Stevland Hardaway Morris (born May 13, 1950, as Stevland Hardaway Judkins), known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist. A child prodigy, he became one of the most creative and loved musical performers of the late 20th century. Wonder signed with Motown's Tamla label at the age of 11 and has continued to perform and record for Motown as of the early 2010s. He has been blind since shortly after birth.

  18. André Benjamin

    André Benjamin


    André Lauren Benjamin (born May 27, 1975), better known by his stage name André 3000 (formerly known as André), is an American rapper, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and actor, best known for being part of hip hop duo Outkast alongside fellow rapper Big Boi. As an actor, Benjamin has made appearances in a number of TV series and films, including Families, The Shield, Be Cool, Revolver, Semi-Pro, Four Brothers, and the leading role of Jimi Hendrix in All Is by My Side. In addition to music and acting, Benjamin has also been an active entrepreneur. In the spring of 2008, he launched a clothing line called Benjamin Bixby. He has also been an advocate for animal rights. He is also known for his work on the Cartoon Network animated series Class of 3000.

  19. Leon Thomas III

    Leon Thomas III


    Leon G. Thomas III (born August 1, 1993) is an American actor, record producer, songwriter and singer who is signed to Columbia Records/Rostrum Records. He is best known for playing Andre Harris on the Nickelodeon series Victorious.

  20. Ginuwine



    Elgin Baylor Lumpkin (born October 15, 1970), better known by his stage name Ginuwine, is an American singer, songwriter, dancer and actor. Signed to Epic Records since the mid-1990s, Ginuwine had released a number of multi-platinum and platinum-selling albums and singles, becoming one of R&B's top artists during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

  21. Billie Holiday

    Billie Holiday


    Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan; April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959) was an American jazz singer and songwriter.

  22. Nat 'King' Cole

    Nat 'King' Cole


    Nathaniel Adams Coles (March 17, 1919 – February 15, 1965), known professionally as Nat King Cole, was an American singer who first came to prominence as a leading jazz pianist. He was widely noted for his soft, baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres and which he used to become a major force in popular music for three decades producing many hit songs.

  23. B.B. King

    B.B. King


    Riley B. King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015), known by his stage name B.B. King, was an American blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist.

  24. Mario



    Mario Dewar Barrett (born August 27, 1986), known mononymously as Mario, is an American R&B singer-songwriter, actor, dancer, model and record producer. He is known for his singles "Just a Friend 2002" (2002) and "Let Me Love You" (2004), which won him two Billboard awards, as well as for appearing in the films Step Up and Freedom Writers. He has released four studio albums: Mario (2002), Turning Point (2004), Go (2007), and D.N.A. (2009). At the end of the 2000s decade, Mario was ranked by Billboard #98 on their "Artist of the Decade" list. His fifth studio album, Never 2 Late, will be released on December 4, 2015.

  25. Blu Cantrell

    Blu Cantrell


    Blu Cantrell (born Tiffany Cobb; March 16, 1976) is an American R&B and soul singer-songwriter.

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