Neo soul artists are performers who write and record R&B music that evokes the sounds of classic rhythm and blues. Many musicians who consider themselves neo soul artists deliberately avoid pop-tempo tracks and shallow lyrics, choosing to write about socially conscious topics or mature relationship issues. There are a lot of great neo-soul singers and some, such as Lauryn Hill, have crossed over to mainstream acceptance, but these five are some of the most consistent, credible artists of the genre.
- Maxwell – Maxwell came onto the neo soul artist scene in the mid-1990s with his debut single "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)" and quickly gained popularity in the R&B community for his meaningful lyrics and soulful music. Considered to be somewhat of a recluse, Maxwell has only recorded four full-length studio albums in the last fifteen years. In 2009, he was finally rewarded with a Grammy Award for his single "Pretty Wings."
- Jill Scott – Neo soul artist Jill Scott released her first record "Who is Jill Scott?" in the year 2000 and had great success with her debut single "A Long Walk." Capitalizing on her radio popularity, Scott has since broken into the movie and television industry, appearing in the Tyler Perry movie "Why Did I Get Married?" and the HBO original series "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency." In 2011, Scott received press for losing 60 pounds and for releasing her latest effort, "The Light of the Sun."
- Erykah Badu – Upon her debut onto the music scene, Erykah Badu's voice was frequently compared to that of jazz legend Billie Holiday. While Badu's vocal style reflected early jazz, her music and, even more so, her lyrical content was markedly modern. In 1997, she released her first album "Baduizm," leading with the single "On and On." Since then, Badu has embraced controversial causes in her personal life and has demonstrated a similar fearlessness in her music. In 2010, she made headlines for filming a music video in which she stripped down to her underwear in public at the spot where John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
- D'Angelo – If you're relatively new to the neo-soul artist movement, you might not have heard of D'Angelo since he hasn't recorded an album in a few years. But D'Angelo was a major influence on the musical genre, becoming known for his melodic chords and vocal harmonies. He dropped his debut album in the early 1990s with the hit single "Brown Sugar." He went on to record the hit "Untitled (How Does It Feel)", famously shooting the music video in the nude.
- India.Arie – A fairly late entry into the neo-soul artist genre, India.Arie released her first album in 2001, featuring the hit song "Video." Arie, who hails from Atlanta, Georgia, received five Grammy Award nominations for her debut record "Acoustic Soul", but didn't win her first award until two years later, for her sophomore album "Voyage to India." She released her most recent album "Testimony" in early 2009.