Absolute BEST Black Male Singers of All Time


Absolute Best Black Male Singers of All Time


Best Black Male Singers:

Who are the Best Black Male Singers? Perhaps a great part of great talent is great pain. I realized at least five of the women on yesterday’s list had suffered from some kind of addiction problem and four of the seven men on this list have also suffered from addiction. It proves that all that glitters is not gold and there is another side to show business that people rarely see. This is probably why the show UNSUNG is such a huge hit. Yesterday we did a list of the best female singers, today we do the male list do you agree with our choices? Comment if you like… (click NEXT button above or below)

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David Ruffin

He may have had some major ego and drug issues and he may not have gotten along with the other Temptations but NOBODY can deny that David Ruffin has to make the list of one of the Best Black Male Singers. It’s most unfortunate the all too familiar drug addiction situation destroyed his chances at a greater career as a solo artist but his music with the Temptations will be etched with a permanent place in the great history of music.



Luther Vandross

The last Luther Vandross was an amazing vocalist spending over a decade behind the scenes recording for Chic, Change, David Bowie and background for Roberta Flack before finally getting his own record deal after Flack fired him and took him to Larkin Arnold to sign him on Epic in the early 80s. The rest, as they say, is history. Luther is an undeniable best black male singer of all time and he was a smash out the gate with a stellar resume of music to follow years later.


Marvin Gaye

Truly one of the greatest vocalist and one of the best black male singers n the history of music. His early 70s music when he claimed he was completely high off weed was when he did his BEST material. Marvin’s personal life was always up and down and his relationship with his father, who eventually shot him to death was incredibly strained. In one of his biographies, he claimed no matter how much he achieved, his father was never impressed. It’s amazing how some people’s relationships with their own parents can be so destructive.BEST BLACK FEMALE SINGERS OF ALL TIME LIST


Sam Cooke

Best Black Male Singers: His gospel vocals transcended to R&B and made him a huge star. There has never been anyone like him. His untimely death/murder was most unfortunate. He certainly had a lot more hits left in him.


Bobby Womack

Once Sam Cooke’s best friend, Bobby Womack’s interpretation of songs hit the nail on the head so hard you can actually feel what he was singing about. No other man on the best black male singers list could take a song and do what Womack was able to do with it.


Peabo Bryson

Best Black Male Singers: Bryson was born to sing yet underrated. I once saw him in concert singing Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You.” He sang it in a higher key and while most would agree that Marvin’s material should not be remade… Peabo should have recorded that version, it was that great and different from the original. Peabo’s range is probably the best out of all the singers on this list but some of his best R&B work rarely hit but he had huge success with his pop duets in the 80s and 90s. His album I Am Love is some of his best work and it flopped.


Phillip Bailey

Philip Bailey was extremely underrated. I’ve never been a big fan of falsetto singers but his amazing falsetto voice was certainly featured all over Earth Wind and Fire’s greatest hits. By the time he left the group to pursue a solo career his biggest hit was with Phil Collins “Easy Lover” but then he was rarely heard from again and later rejoined EW&F.



  1. What about Charlie Wilson????!!!!! How can you leave a guy like that off of this list… he actually survived drug addiction and has done what none of these guys has done and made a real organic comeback and is relevant today with monster hits and uplifting music about women! Even my 8 year old nephew and 11 year old niece listen to him. Do some homework!!!

      • Not only Jackie. No Nat King Cole, no Clyde McPhatter. Funny thing is everyone on here listens to and sings along with Clyde and Nat every freaking year at Christmas. King Solomon Burke isn’t even mentioned. His songs were here before and will be long after most on this list are long forgotten.

  2. Any time you have the “best” instead of “arguably the best” you are asking for trouble. This list is definitely in the arguable category. No Stevie, Teddy, Otis. You got to be kidding me!

    • I agree wholeheartedly. Nobody on the list could touch him. Even if you ignore the rest of his body of work, I cite one song and rest my case:”Danny Boy”.

  3. It’s hard to take a list like that seriously without Al Green. No disrespect to Phillip Bailey, but was his falsetto more piercing than Eddie Kendricks’? Seriously?

  4. The list for the men should be expaneded to ten and we should find a way to get Teddy Pendergrass, Ronnie Isley, Jeffrey Osborne, and Little Willie John on that list. Little Willie John is often forgotten when we talk about great male vocalists, but from th early 50s through the mid sixties he was untouchable. His life ended trgically and far too early, but we should never underestimate his impact. He is in my opinion, along with Ray Charles; one of the fathers of modern soul music. Don’t know about him? Read more about him online and check out some of his music on youtube. Also ask yourself why the godfather of soul James Brown saw fit to dedicate an entire album to him after he died. His impact was that great. Ray Charles should also be on any list of greatest as well. We have a tendency to only focus on the solo artists when we have these discussions, but we forget that there were many great singers in groups as well. Eddie Levert, Gerald Albright, & Levi Stubbs could each have had stellar solo careers if they chose to leave their groups. Maybe we should expand the list to 20 and include all of the above.

    • Absolutely, he was the King, the way he could sing a song. No greatest list of any kind list can be without him. He set the bar for more to follow. As a white singer I try to emulate the way he phrased his words, they were impeccable.

  5. I would have a very different list: Sam Cooke, Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, Barry White, Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield and Otis Redding as a tie.

  6. Uncle Charlie Wilson and dont forget about Smokey & RON BANKS From the the group the dramatics Show Stevie some love & The Great Gerald levert And last but not least Brother Johnny gill all these brothers are great in there own way thanks For time

  7. What about Billy Eckstine, Jackie Wilson, Nat King Cole. Check out Austin Cromer, not a household name but good enough for Dizzy to use him on some of his recordings. And let’s not forget Sammy Davis jr. Whoever created that list needs to do some serious listening. (Bobby Womack)?

  8. Kevin, we are usually in sync, BUT NOT to have Al Green on this list is a faux paus! I like Peabo but he doesn’t beat Al Green (who had more #1 hits in the 70’s than any other R&B male artist) or Teddy (“dubbed the worlds greatest lead singer”) or the proflic and distinct soud Curtis Mayfield..no Stevie? OMG!

  9. Where in the hell are Smokey Robinson, Al Green, Jackie Wilson, Donny Hathaway, Teddy Pendergrass and Levi Stubbs, just to mention. Only a list of seven? You got to be kidding me. You need at least 25.

  10. Cant argue with the list mine would have had some of the same I would have Donnie Hathaway, Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke, , Marvin Gaye, David Ruffin Al Green but why not top 10 would still be hard I was trying to put Peabo, Jackie Wilson, Billy Eckstein and Eddie Kendricks on but already at 7

  11. You blew it. Peabo was only a so-so singer. Eddie Kendricks over Phillip Bailey. You don’t have Mr. Excitement on your list or Harold Melvin or Teddy. Freddie Jackson, and both Levert’s disrespected by YOU. Quit making list. Or state as only your opinion. Maybe if you break it down by decade.

  12. BS list! ….AL Green… Teddy… Jeffrey Osborne… Lou Rawls…. Brook Benton.Curtis Mayfield.. Barry White.. .. and the list goes on

  13. No Teddy??,, No Al Green??,No Eddie Levert??,& Dennis Edwards,& Howard Hewitt could sing with the best of them. It’s a very good list guys,but you left some names out that can’t be explained……

  14. How could you leave off two of the sweetest voices and the faces of Motown the great Smokey Robinson and Eddie Kendricks. Those two voices where so great, especially when singing a love song. Eddie died way to young, but Smokey can still bring it after all these years.

  15. Obviously the list is incomplete, leaving Nat King Cole off the list is understandable unless you know that Marvin Gaye’s ultimate dream was to cross over and reach the same audience same goes for Luther neither of them hit their objective of crossing over like NKC. I consider this list more about crooners than singers having said that no mention of Barry White makes this list hard to take serious.

  16. Please include the Great Smokey Robinson, Johnny Gill, Al Green… These singers have such beautiful voices . Smokey Robinson in concert, the man still had it! Please include their names in your list and make it longer if you say BEST.. there are several !!!

  17. This list is based upon the opinion of the writer; it’s subjective and certainly can be challenged. I don’t agree with Peabo Bryson nor Phillip Baily. The key here is vocally not most popular. I think any singer that has impacted an industry and influenced other artist because of their talent should be on this list. Sam/Luther/Bobby IMO are at that level. The arguement of leaving Stevie Wonder off this list is a huge error.

  18. Eddie Kendricks and Stevie Wonder should be on this list. The good news is you have the best singer of all time, David Ruffin, on here.

  19. We should have the top 25, 50 and 100 male singer/crooners; as well as bands. Now if if will be chronological by era then it allows the top 5 to ten for inclusion and focus, on subject matter, suggestions and nominations.

  20. Give ma a break with this list. Are all of you under 60 yr of age?
    Where the heck is Johnny Hartman? Oh. Don’t know who he is? Check Google or brick and mortar, the LIBRARY.

  21. No Teddy? No Smokey? You’ve got to be kidding. Peabo and Bobby Womack are awesome, and I’m fans of both, but to put them above the two I mentioned on the all-time greats list? No, sir.

  22. Marvin Junior of The DELLS He’s the guy the 1st Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes album was written for. Stay In My Corner says it all. He was as great as they come

  23. Hey Kevin ….Hope All Is Well….Thank You very much for keeping me on your list to stay informed.
    I have read most of the responding comments and I must remind folks that the Title is “Undeniable 7 Best Black Male Singers Of All Time”……….Lets Define Best…….would that be “Greatest” or “Most Popular” or “Most Skilled”…??????
    However I do agree with the comment of ….(The list should be at least 10)….7 would automatically eliminate several Vocalists who had more Swag than Skill.
    Being Blessed with a past career that allowed me to work with sevearal singers on that list…..I must share a past statement Luther used to make when I Accompanied him during Radio visits with Jocks……He would tell them that he can’t believe that even though we worked together on over 10 projects and one of them was my idea to do a signature Wedding Song at an actual wedding (“Here and Now” His first Grammy).
    I was not his number one favorite male vocalist , he was actually my number three.
    Marvin Gaye is my Number # !………Cmon Kevin …who else made Women scream on the “Star Spangled Banner”
    Rance Allen is my Number # 2….when it comes to Male Vocal Skills…..you step to Rance and you will get a lesson and then catch a vocal beat down.
    Luther was my Definite # 3……His vocal performance on covers were completely nasty to the original versions that didn’t have his skill level and he was one of the Best Performers in Concert History.
    And then in no order i will agree with Professor Linton on Distinctive Voices like ….Al Green , Nat King Cole , David Ruffin , Smokey Robinson , James Brown , Jackie Wilson , Marvin Winans , Sam Cooke , Levi Stubbs , Stevie Wonder , Teddy Pendergrass , Barry White , Lou Rawls, Gerald Levert, Johnny Gill , Alexander O’neal and so many others.
    I guess it goes back in reference to the saying “Beauty Is In The Eyes Of the Beholder” ……well a “Great Voice and A Great Song” depends on who is listening……..

  24. One only has to listen to Marvin Pentz Gaye Jnr’s “Flying High In The Friendly Sky” to understand why he is the greatest soul singer to ever set foot in a recording studio! Buff said!

  25. My Rushmore: Teddy, Barry, Al Green, Donny, and Nat King Cole. No said order. Remaining three: Jackie Wilson, Mr. Jeffrey Osborne, and Howard Hewitt. PERIOD!!!!! Their talent is the vis’ a vis’ of of human emotion that strikes the very core of human intimacy.

  26. James Ingram ,Lou Rawls, Billy Ecsteine, KC & JOJo , Jerry Butler , little Jimmy Scot. These are oldies they are goodies , Dennis Edwards best David Ruffin replacement. That list is too short
    jaheim, Al Jaroux on and on and on etc. Excuse my dispelling.

  27. In the 70s who was the BLACK male singer that sang with Dean Martin & Frank Sinatra. HE HAD A BLACK PATCH ON HIS EYE???

  28. Funny how Teddy Pendergrass gets left off of some many of these lists imho one of the best singers ever!!! Have you never watched Teddy in London in 82?? These lists are very subjective I’ve missed sooooo many great singers off it and Paebo Bryson I’ve got to be kidding!!

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