Radio Facts Reader’s Poll: Top Black Singing Groups of All Time

Radio Facts did a poll with our readers to find out who they thought the Top 12 BEST R&B Singing Groups of All Time are. Here are the results.

12. Gap Band


The GAP Band was a popular R&B group in the ‘80’s comprised of siblings Charlie, Robert, and Ronnie Wilson. Their band name is a compilation of the first letters of Greenwood, Archer, and Pine three streets in their hometown of Tulsa. Over the course of their career, the GAP Band released 15 studio albums. Many of their more recognizable hits include “Outstanding,” “Yearning,” “Burn Rubber,” “Party Train,” and “You Dropped a Bomb on Me.” Cuts that group frontman Charlie Wilson still performs today during his many sold-out solo concert appearances.
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11. Frankie Beverly and Maze

No other soul band has had more success in touring and live shows than Frankie Beverly and Maze. This Philadelphia-bred group has been selling out venues consistently for over 30 years. Maze has recorded eight studio albums, two live, and five compilation albums, but the experience of seeing Frankie Beverly and company in concert is its truest essence and greatest form. Fans come from all over to see Maze perform such hits as “Joy and Pain, “Back in Stride,” “Can’t Over You,” “We are One,” and “Before I Let Go.”

LAS VEGAS, NV – SEPTEMBER 03: Singer/songwriter Sade performs at the MGM Grand Garden Arena September 3, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

10. SADE

Sade’s accomplishments are equally impressive in the U.S. as they are internationally. Highlighted by the distinctive vocals of lead singer Sade Adu, the band is a four-time Grammy Award winner and has three #1 singles to date. Although historically reclusive, Sade will still sell-out arenas as fans clamor to hear such grooves as “Smooth Operator,” “The Sweetest Taboo,” “Nothing Can Come Between Us,” “No Ordinary Love,” and “Cherish the Day.”

9. MINT CONDITION

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 12: (L-R) Singer Ricky Kinchen, Homer O’Dell, Stokley Williams, Jeffrey Allen and Larry Waddell of Mint Condition attend The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for NARAS)

This Minneapolis-based band was discovered by iconic producers, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis in the city’s premiere live performance venue, First Avenue; which also served as the career launching pad for Prince.  Mint Condition spurned several hits throughout the ‘90’s, which include “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)” and “U Send Me Swingin.”

8. JACKSON 5

The five singing and dancing siblings from Gary, IND first catapulted to the top of the charts in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, selling nearly 50 million records worldwide.  The Jackson 5 were the heartthrobs of every teenager in America during their era. There’s not a more famous and successful family in all of show business than the Jacksons.  In addition to commercial success in the music recording industry, the Jackson 5 also had a nighttime TV variety show and a Saturday morning cartoon. Through the Jackson 5 the world was introduced to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, whose career success and global celebrity is unsurpassed by any entertainer ever.  

7. NEW EDITION

New Edition grew up right before fans eyes as they recorded such bubblegum hits as “Candy Girl” and “Popcorn Love” in the early ‘80’s to developing a more mature sound with a discography consisting of such smashes as “Can You Stand the Rain” and “If It Isn’t Love” in the ‘90’s.  New Edition has taken home two American Music Awards as well as Soul Train and BET “Lifetime Achievement” awards. No other group on a whole has had as much individual success as the N.E. brand. Group members Bobby Brown, BBD, Johnny Gill, and Ralph Tresvant each have had their share of the spotlight as separate artists as well.   

6. THE SUPREMES

This Motor City trio consisting of original members Diana Ross, Florence Ballard, and Mary Wilson are the most successful vocal group of all-time.  The Supremes have hit the number one spot on the Billboard Top 100 Singles Chart 12 times, recorded 29 studio albums, and have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  The Supremes are arguably the flagship, signature group on the legendary Motown artist roster.

5. COMMODORES

This funk/soul band recorded for Motown and saw the height of their success in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s.  The Commodores released 14 studio albums and their endless string of hits consisting of “Easy,” “Brick House,” “Lady,” “Zoom,” “Three Times a Lady,” “Nightshift” are all still mainstays on current Urban AC radio.  The Commodores first formed as a band while attending Tuskegee University. The group was the breaking ground for future hit singer/songwriter Lionel Richie.

4. GLADYS KNIGHT and the PIPS

The history of this legendary R&B/Soul group dates back to 1952.  Signed to Berry Gordy’s Motown Records, Gladys Knight and the Pips have earned two Grammy wins seven American Music Awards and were inducted into the Apollo Theater Hall of Fame.  The group has released such colossal and timeless hits as “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “Heard It Through the Grapevine.” Lead singer Gladys Knight also went on to have a heralded career as a soloist.   

3. ISLEY BROTHERS

No R&B group has a longer spanning career than the Isley Brothers.  The Isley’s released their first album, Shout in 1959; 58 years and 30 albums later, they delivered Power of Peace in 2017.  Led by silky vocals of sibling Ronald, the Isley Brothers vast catalogue of classics includes “Twist & Shout,” which was later covered by the Beatles, “Fight the Power,” “Footsteps in the Dark,” “For the Love of You,” and “Between the Sheets.”  The Isley Brothers were also one of the first groups to formulate their own independent music recording label, T-Neck Records; named after their place of residence, Teaneck, NJ. The Isley Brothers music has managed to remain relevant years later through sampling.  Hip-Hop artists such as Notorious B.I.G., Ice Cube, and A Tribe Called Quest have licensed tunes from the Isley’s.

2. TEMPTATIONS

Another Motown gem, whose career has seen 15 number one R&B singles and 17 number one R&B albums dating back to 1964.  Some of the more popular hits from the Temptations include “My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Just My Imagination,” “Papa was a Rolling Stone,” and “Treat Her Like a Lady.”  Group members David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, and Dennis Edwards each went on to find success as soloists as well.

1. EARTH WIND & FIRE

Earth, Wind, and Fire or as they are also affectionately referred to as “The Elements” are arguably the most creative and decorative band in the history of modern music.  EWF has amassed close to 100 million records in sales spanning over 21 released studio albums; making them the 7th best-selling American recording group of all-time.  EWF has not come up short in accolades department as the group has won 7 Grammys, NAACP Image, Soul Train, and BET Awards as well as Hollywood Walk of Fame and Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame honors.  The music world lost a legend when group founder Maurice White passed away in 2016, but the legacy and sound of EWF

Honorable Mentions…
Enchantment
O’Jays
Cameo
The 5 Stairsteps
Midnight Star
Parliament
Bar-Kays
Four Tops
Tavares
The Dramatics
Blue Magic
The Dells
The Whispers
Bob Marley & the Wailers
War

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