The minute you start talking about any type of “greatest” list, the notion immediately invites loud debate. Billboard’s tally of the 35 greatest R&B artists of all time — which includes Marvin Gaye, Beyonce, Ray Charles, Alicia Keys and many more — is no exception.
Naysayers will no doubt quickly note the absence of Rihanna, whose impressive success is more heavily rooted in pop than R&B. And those singers whose iconic status stemmed primarily from fronting groups rather than as a solo artist were not included. Among other factors taken into consideration: game-changing influence, sales, impact and enduring musical legacy.