This R&B crooner with a three-octave vocal range was once crowned the “Prince of Motown.” In 1970 he branched out to touch on more socially conscious themes in his music, to the ire of Motown heads.
You guessed right: Marvin Gaye, pictured here with frequent collaborator, Tammi Terrell, who died of a brain tumor in 1970.
This Detroit beauty’s middle name is Earnestine and she’s considered a triple threat, having sung, danced and acted her way into our hearts. In 1983, over 350,000 fans waited for her to sing in the rain in a park in New York City.
We’re talking about the boss. Ms. Diana Ross, who performed her 1983 For One and For All concert in New York’s Central Park to a record crowd.
Once known as the King of Soul, this R&B crooner had 26 top 40 hits between 1957 and 1964 with hits like “Twistin’ the Night Away” and ’Wonderful World." He died tragically before hitting his 34th birthday.
Singer Sam Cooke died after being shot three times by a hotel manager. He was 33.
Besides her celebrated singing voice, this Detroit native is also one of the finest piano players of her generation. And she’s flexible: singing gospel, soul and rock.
We’re talking about the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.
No one could make piercing shrieks and groans more iconic than this South Carolina native with the slickest dance moves of his time.
We’re talking about the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.
Her brazen sexuality and powerhouse chords made this Chicago native one of the most exciting vocalists of her time. And she always took her self expression very seriously.
You guessed it: Chaka Khan.
Her last name is French for “the beautiful one,” and she began her career in a girl group in the late ’60s.
Patti LaBelle (far right) began her professional career singing with Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash as “Patti La Belle and Her Blue Belles.”
During his illustrious career, this former backup singer sold over 25 million albums and won eight Grammys.
He had a voice like no other. You guessed right: Luther Vandross.
With 56 hit singles under her belt, this Jersey girl is second only to Aretha Franklin as the most-charted female vocalist on Billboard charts. Her niece was affectionately known as “the voice.”
Singer Dionne Warwick’s niece was none other than the late Whitney Houston.
The only female in an all-male band, this soulful singer churned out timeless hits beginning in the ’60s. One of her most famous song lyrics goes, “Neither one of us wants to be the first to say goodbye.”
Gladys Knight is also known as the “Empress of Soul.”
A former doo-wop singer, this celebrated singer and composer always weaved in socially conscious themes into his music. Rapper Kanye West sampled of his most popular songs for “Touch the Sky.”
Kanye West sampled Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up.”
“You made me happy this you can bet / Stood right beside me and I won’t forget,” sings this beloved singer and his band in one of their most popular songs.
Frankie Beverly and Maze’s “Before I Let Go” is a must for anyone looking to get R&B lovers to the dance floor.
Disco queen Donna Summer passed away in May 2012.