Pictured above are Chuck Berry, Louis Armstrong, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder and Dizzy Gillespie.

From blues, jazz, rock 'n' roll, hip-hop to R&B, people of potent melanin have exceeded all of the bars.

In honor of Black Music Month, The Miami Times has selected what we believe are the 10 top greatest singers of all time, in no particular order.

Great music and American culture cannot be mentioned without any of the following acts. We would love to hear what you think of our list, and if you would have added or taken anyone away. The month has two more weeks. We could do it again.


Any singer who has earned the title "Queen" or "King" of a genre has definitely conquered music and earned a spot on our list of the greats.

The Queen of Soul - Aretha Franklin

From early on, Aretha Franklin made it clear that we needed to R-E-S-P-E-C-T her. She has a voice that only God can gift. Her voice makes us feel like natural women and men while her skill was obviously supernatural. In fact, her voice was declared a "natural resource" in Michigan in 1985.

Franklin paved the way for singers such as Lauryn Hill, Fantasia and Jill Scott. She was the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and winner of the Grammy Legend and Lifetime Achievement awards. Franklin even has a Pulitzer Prize Special citation. With hits like "Rock Steady," "Chain of Fools" and "Something He Can Feel," Franklin's legacy speaks on its own.

The King of Pop -Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson is the greatest artist who has ever lived. He started with his reign from the time he was just 6 years old with the Jackson 5. Jackson was an innovator in the art of performance and fashion. He would create new moves and styles that seem to come from another realm. He taught us how to moonwalk and how to rock glitter and gloves. His performances were always a "Thriller" and "The Greatest Show on Earth."

Jackson's influence can be seen in Justin Timberlake, The Weeknd, Chris Brown and Bruno Mars. He has won best pop artist numerous times and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, once as a Jackson 5. Although Jackson died 10 years ago, his songs such as "Bille Jean," "Beat it" and "Rock with You," still live on. Jackson has 84 million album certifications making him the seventh-highest-certified music artist in the country.


The word diva was first used to describe an opera singer who can hit extremely high notes. Now, we have added some flair to the word using it to describe singers with huge voices and dynamic presences. The next singer is a diva by that definition.

Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston was a powerhouse vocalist and one of kind. No one can make the impact that she has made on music. Whether she goes low or high, each note that Houston sings can be felt in your soul. We will always love Houston for the way she craftily delivered every lyric in every song.

Houston influenced Jennifer Hudson, Christina Aguilera and Tamar Braxton. She is one of the best-selling artists and has won numerous Grammys. Guinness World Records named her the most-awarded female artist, and she has the best voice of the last several decades. She wowed us with hits such as "The Greatest Love of All," "I Have Nothing" and "One Moment in Time."


Music has a way of evolving, and sometimes a mix and mesh of more than one genre can create something new. These pioneer artists have been credited with creating new genres of music in the U.S.

Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry turned his love for the blues and his "Bad Boy" image into being the **Father of Rock 'n' Roll**. Berry played the guitar just like he was ringing a bell. Berry pushed the envelope with songs like, "My Ding-Ling."

His style has influenced Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley and The Rolling Stones. With songs such as "Maybellene," "Roll Over Beethoven," "Rock and Roll Music" and "Johnny B. Goode," Berry left his mark on music. He was one of the first artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Sugarhill Gang

The Sugarhill Gang found a way to rock the rhythm and became the first hip-hop group to rank in the Top 40 on the Billboard charts. Their song "Rapper's Delight" has been dubbed the breakthrough song for rap music. The members were Michael "Wonder Mike" Wright, Henry "Big Bank Hank" Jackson and Guy "Master Gee" O'Brien. Some of the lyrics the members spat over the beat on "Rapper's Delight" are still being recycled in rap music today.

The gang evolutionized the very existence of rap and hip-hop as we know it. They were awarded the Grammys Hall of Fame Award in 2014.

Dizzy Gillespie

Dizzy Gillespie bridged classic and traditional jazz with modern and progressive jazz. Gillespie, a trumpeter, singer and composer "jived" in the bebop show. He used his persona to interest a new generation in the sophisticated art form of bebop. It takes a special talent to be able to scat sing and create an impromptu piece without words. ****Gillespie was also involved in the Afro-Cuban/Latin jazz movement.

Along with influencing a new genre of music, Gillespie also inspired other artists such as Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis Jr. Gillespie won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and was entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame. He also received a Kennedy Center Honor. His contribution is amplified through songs such as "A Night in Tunisia," "Salt Peanuts" and "Groovin' High."


There are songs and artists that defy time. When that artist's music is played we cannot pinpoint the era or do we need to because their voices resound our hearts and ears every and anytime.

Stevie Wonder

Steve Wonder is a cherished act in Black music. He is an ambassador when it comes to feel-good tunes. The music he plays on his piano are the keys to our lives. Wonder was signed, sealed and delivered to us through Motown at just 11 years old. He has recorded 30 top-10 records since then and received 25 Grammys.

Wonder has paved the way for artists Alicia Keys and India Irie. He has won more Grammys than any other solo artist and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll and Songwriters Hall of Fame. His songs I Just Called to Say I Love You," "You are the Sunshine of My Life" and "Superstition" are still used in movies, dance performances and several other platforms today.

Louis Armstrong

Hailing from New Orleans, Louis Armstrong showed us "What a Wonderful World" jazz was to him. Armstrong, a singer, musician and composer, had a career in jazz that lasted over five decades. His music definitely had "all the time in the world" as it is still played in movies, churches and by marching bands and musicians alike today.

Armstrong has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame. He paved the way for artists such as Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday. Armstrong gave America classics such as "When the Saints," "Nobody Knows the Trouble" and "Jeepers Creepers."


Forget boundaries and genres. These two artists have created their own way in music with originality and artistry. Prince and Beyonce are not just singers but full packages, they have become brands who have made a mark.


The Artist Formerly Known as Prince was also known for lipgloss, eyeliner, the color purple, high-heeled shoes and statement necklaces. He helped audiences tap into their dirty minds with his raunchy lyrics and suggestive dance moves. The eccentric singer had a wide vocal range along with the blend of waves of music. He created "Controversy" with his androgynous style and psychedelic tracks.

Prince's influence can be seen today in artists Miguel, Janelle Monae and Lenny Kravitz. Prince has been inducted into the Rock and Roll and Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame. He has won nine Grammys, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. Prince's greatest hits include "Purple Rain," "When Doves Cry" and "Diamonds and Pearls."


Beyonce, Beyonce, Beyonce. I could not speak about the greats and influential artists without including Beyonce. The singer has a cult-like following like no other. The Beyhive, as they have been dubbed, will literally send you death threats. But that is not why Beyonce made this list. Her work ethic, ability to pay attention to every detail and breathtaking performances make Beyonce one of the greats. Beyonce first became famous as the lead singer of the R&B girl group, Destiny's Child. There have not been many other girl groups in history who have made as many anthems as Destiny's Child. As a solo artist, Beyonce has been the queen of female anthems as well. Whether you are a single lady or "Irreplaceable," or "Crazy In Love," the songstress has a song for you.

Beyonce has won 23 Grammys and holds five Guinness World Book Records. She is the most popular artist of the last decade with records for the artist with the most Instagram likes and Twitter interactions. She has made her mark with singles such as "Who Run the World," "Formation" and "The Best Thing I Never Had."

Are these all of the greats? Let us know if we missed anyone. Email

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