The ten best female R&B classic singers have sold hundreds of millions of albums and won numerous Grammy awards over their career. Some of these singers began their career in the fifties while others started as late as the nineties. While a few of these artists are Hall of Famers, others are still recording music today.
- Aretha Franklin – People refer to Aretha Franklin as the “Queen of Soul.” She is also one of the best female R&B classic singers of all time with eighteen Grammy awards including fourteen for Best R&B Vocal Performance. Franklin is the first female member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
- Diana Ross – Diana Ross got her star as the lead singer of the Motown band, The Supremes. Ross is one of the best female R&B classic singers with twelve Grammy nominations and a Tony award as well as an Oscar nomination and Golden Globe award for her movie work.
- Patti LaBelle – Patti LaBelle started her music career in the sixties but hit it big with her 1974 hit “Lady Marmalade.” One of the best female R&B classic singers, LaBelle went on to earn twelve R&B Grammy nominations winning two of them. In 2003, the Grammy Hall of Fame inducted LaBelle for “Lady Marmalade.”
- Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston’s debut album in 1985 was the best selling debut album by a female artist at that time. Her second album was the first ever to debut at No. 1 by a female artist. She is one of the best female R&B classic singers, selling over 170 million albums over her career.
- Chaka Khan – Chaka Khan started her career as the lead singer for the funk band Rufus. She then became one of the best female R&B classic singers when she started her solo career. She received 22 Grammy nominations, winning ten, including nine in the R&B categories.
- Gladys Knight – Gladys Knight reached her greatest level of popularity in the 60s and 70s as the front-woman of Gladys Knight and the Pips. This female R&B classic singer won four Grammy Awards in the genres of soul, gospel and R&B. She received a Best Living Legend Award at the first BET awards.
- Tina Turner – Tina Turner started her career with then-husband Ike before breaking away from him and reaching great success in her solo career. She developed into one of the best female R&B classic singers winning numerous awards and selling over 200 million albums over her career. She has won Grammys in the genres of jazz, rock, pop and R&B.
- Etta James – Etta James is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall, Blues and Grammy Hall of Fames and one of the best female R&B classic singers. She struck it big when her 1955 song, “The Wallflower,” reached No. 1 on the charts. In 2006, Billboard awarded her the “R&B Founders Award.”
- Mariah Carey – Mariah Carey took the world by storm with her debut in 1990 and immediately became one of the best female R&B classic singers of her era. Carey has won five Grammys and 28 Billboard Music Awards. She has since gone on to be an accomplished actress, appearing in the 2009 hit film “Precious.”
- Toni Braxton – Toni Braxton released her debut solo album in 1993, reaching the top of the charts. She has become one of the best female R&B classic singers since that time, winning six Grammys over her career. She recently appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” in the show’s seventh season.
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