A Comprehensive List of Famous African-American Male Singers

Famous African-American male singers
As far back in time as the 1920s, the era of classical blues, African-Americans have been prominent in the music industry. Buzzle brings to you a list of famous African-American singers, through the ages.
Did You Know?
James Weldon Johnson, one of the pioneers of African-American advancement, composed a poem called Lift Every Voice and Sing, on the occasion of Lincoln's birthday in 1900. This song was since then, considered to be the African-American national anthem.
African-Americans have always been known to possess colossal talent. In the music industry, specifically, they have had a strong presence for more than a century, and have left behind a legacy of their songs that the world cherishes. In fact, every generation has their favorite African-American artists; with Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Nat King Cole, James Brown, and Stevie Wonder, being immensely popular until the 70s, Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Muddy Waters, and Prince, who were the reigning legends until the 90s, and more recently, Usher, Chris Brown, and Ne-Yo. We have compiled a list of the most famous African-American male singers, of all time.
But first, a little history...
The decade of the 1920s is referred to as the Jazz Age. It is a significant period in the history of African-Americans, and also in the history of music itself, because it marks the cultural evolution of a generation that was stubbornly set in its ways. In the early 1900s, a lot of Blues musicians from New Orleans migrated to Chicago, and other places, and the jazz scene was developing at a very quick pace. We have compiled a list of all the celebrated African-American vocalists of that time, who are now immortalized in their records.

NameBirth and DeathPopular/Stage NameBeginning of Career
Louis ArmstrongAugust 4th, 1901 - July 6th, 1971-1923
Edward KennedyApril 29th, 1899 - May 24th, 1974Duke Ellington 1924
William Henry Jacksonc.1885 - 1938Papa Charlie Jackson1924
Lemon Henry JeffersonSeptember 24th, 1893 - December 19th, 1929Blind Lemon Jefferson1925
Alonzo JohnsonFebruary 8th, 1899 - June 16th, 1970Lonnie Johnson1925
Arthur Blake1893 - 1933Blind Blake1926
Joshua Barnes HowellMarch 5th, 1888 - August 11th, 1966Peg Leg Howell1926
Frankie JaxonFebruary 3rd, 1895 - 1944Half Pint Jaxon1926
Alger AlexanderSeptember 12th, 1900 - April 18th, 1954Texas Alexander1927
Robert HicksSeptember 11th, 1902 - October 21st, 1931Barbecue Bob1927
Lee Conley BradleyJune 26th, 1893 - August 14th, 1958Big Bill Broonzy1927
Jim Jacksonc.1884 - 1937-1927
Walter E. LewisMarch 6th, 1893 - September 14th, 1981Furry Lewis1927
William Samuel McTellMay 5th, 1898 - August 19th, 1959Blind Willie McTell1927
Ishmon BraceyJanuary 9th, 1901 - February 12th, 1970-1928
Leroy CarrMarch 27th, 1905 - April 29th, 1935-1928
Eddie James House, Jr.March 21, 1902 - October 19, 1988Son House1928
John Smith HurtMarch 8th, 1892 - November 2nd, 1966Mississippi John Hurt1928
William JohnsonJanuary 22nd 1897- September 18th 1945Blind Willie Johnson1928
Tommy Johnson1896 - November 1st, 1956-1928
Charlie McCoyMay 26th, 1909 - July 26th, 1950Papa Charlie1928
Robert Timothy WilkinsJanuary 16th, 1896 - May 26th, 1987-1928
Theodore Roosevelt DarbyMarch 2nd, 1906, date of death unknownBlind Teddy Darby1929
John Adam EstesJanuary 25th, 1899 - June 5th, 1977Sleepy John1929
Clifford GibsonApril 17th, 1901 - December 21st, 1963Grandpappy1929
Roosevelt GravesDecember 9th, 1909 - December 30th, 1962Blind Roosevelt Graves1929
Joe McCoyMay 11th, 1905 - January 28th, 1950Kansas Joe McCoy1929
Famous African-American Singers between 1940 - 1980
Ray Charles
(September 23rd, 1930 - June 10th, 2004)
Awards and Recognition: 10 Grammy Awards won in his lifetime, record for the highest number of posthumous Grammy Awards, National Academy of Recording Art & Science Hall Award of Fame in 1972, NAACP Image Awards - Hall of Fame Award in 2004, Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the University of South Florida in Tampa in 1990, and the induction into the Playboy Magazine Hall of Fame in 1968, Songwriters' Hall of Fame in 1976, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 1992, and International Jazz Hall of Fame in 1997, and Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1990 for "I've Got A Woman", and in 1993 for "Georgia on My Mind"

Well-Known Songs:- Georgia on my Mind, Unchain my Heart, Busted, I Can't Stop Loving You, Hit the Road Jack
Fats Domino
Fats domino
(February 26th, 1928)
Awards and Recognition:- Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987, Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1987 for "Blueberry Hill", and 2002 for "Ain't That a Shame", and Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award in 1995.

Well-Known Songs:- Blueberry Hill, Blue Monday, Walking to New Orleans, I'm in Love Again, Valley of Tears
Chuck Berry
(October 18th, 1926)
Awards and Recognition:- American Music Award of Merit in 1981, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984, Grammy Hall of Fame Award for "Maybellene" in 1988, "Roll Over Beethoven" in 1990, and "Johnny B. Goode" in 1999, Kennedy Center Honors in 2000, and Polar Music Prize in 2014.

Well-Known Songs:- Maybellene, Sweet Little Sixteen, Carol, Roll Over Beethoven, Good Lovin' Woman, Back to Memphis
Nat King Cole
(March 17th, 1919 - February 15th, 1965)
Awards and Recognition:- Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Song in 1959, Golden Globe Special Achievement Award in 1963, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990, and Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1974 for "The Christmas Song", in 1999 for "Nature Boy", and in 2000 for "Unforgettable".

Well-Known Songs:- I'm in the Mood for Love, Mona Lisa, Too Young, Unforgettable, Somewhere Along the Way
Stevie Wonder
(May 13th, 1950)
Awards and Recognition:- Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1974, 1975, and 1977, American Music Award of Merit, Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1985 for "I Just Called to Say I Love You", American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Album in 1977, and in 1978, Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1974, 1975, and 2006, Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 1985, Soul Train Music Award for Heritage Award - Career Achievement in 1987, Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals in 1987, Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical in 1977, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996, Kennedy Center Honors in 1999, Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) in 1999, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Album in 2001, NAACP Image Award - Hall of Fame Award in 2008, Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998 for "Superstition", in 1999 for "Innervisions", and "Talking Book", in 2002 for "Songs in the Key of Life" and "You Are the Sunshine of My Life", and in 2009 for "For Once in My Life", and the Billboard Icon Award in 2012.

Well-Known Songs:- I Just Called to Say I Love You, Part-Time Lover, Superstition, Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours, You are the Sunshine of my Life
Otis Redding
Otis Redding
(September 9th, 1941 - December 10th, 1967)
Awards and Recognition:- Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998 for "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay", and in 2001 for "I've Been Loving You Too Long", Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1969, Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1969, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999, and Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award in 2006.

Well-Known Songs:- Cigarettes and Coffee, That's How Strong my Love is, Tramp, Mr. Pitiful, (Sitiin' on) The Dock of the Bay
Cab Calloway
(December 25th, 1907 - November 18th, 1994)
Awards and Recognition:- Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Performances in 1968, Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998 for "Minnie the Moocher", and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

Well-Known Songs:- Black Rhythm, Sweet Georgia Brown, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Hot Toddy, Rhapsody in Rhumba
James Brown
(May 3rd, 1933 - December 25th, 2006)
Well-Known Songs:- Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998 for "Live at the Apollo", in 1999 for "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag (Part 1)", in 2001 for "Please, Please, Please", in 2010, 2013 and in 2014 for Get Up (I Feel Like Being Like a Sex Machine), Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance in 1966, Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1987, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992, Grammy Award for Best Album Notes in 1992, induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1983, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, New York Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000, and the official R&B Music Hall of Fame in 2013, a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1997, American Music Award of Merit in 1992, Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award in 1993, Kennedy Center Honors in 2003, and BET Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.

Well-Known Songs:- I Got You (I Feel Good), I Got the Feeling, Think, Night Train, Try Me
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George Clinton
(July 22, 1941)
Awards and Recognition:- NAACP Image Award - Hall of Fame Award in 1997, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, and Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award in 2003.

Well-Known Songs:- Atomic Dog, Flash Light, Break My Heart, Knee Deep, Hey Good Lookin'
Marvin Gaye
(April 2nd, 1939 - April 1st, 1984)Hey Good Lookin
Awards and Recognition:- NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Album in 1971, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Male Artist in 1971, American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Single in 1983, Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1983, Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance in 1983, NAACP Image Award - Hall of Fame Award in 1988, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996, Rhythm and Blues Pioneer Award in 2000, and Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998 for "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and "What's Going On", in 1999 for "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", in 2002 for "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)", and in 2004 for "Let's Get It On".

Well-Known Songs:- Let's Get it On, I Want You, How Sweet it is (to be Loved by You), I Heard it Through the Grapevine, After the Dance
Sam Cooke
(January 22nd, 1931 - December 11th, 1964)
Awards and Recognition:- Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999, Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award in 1999, Grammy Award for Best Music Film in 2004, induction as a charter member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998 for "You Send Me", and in 2004 for "Shake (A Change is Gonna Come)".

Well-Known Songs:- You Send Me, You Were Made for Me, Love You Most of All, Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha, Only Sixteen, Chain Gang
Isaac Hayes
(August 20th, 1942 - August 10th, 2008)
Awards and Recognition:- For "Theme from Shaft" in 1972, Academy Award for Best Original Song, Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Song, Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media, Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement, and Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999, Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance with Vocal Coloring in 1973, and American Music Award for Favorite Disco Male Artist in 1979.

Well-Known Songs:- The Look of Love, Wonderful, Walk On By, Never Can Say Goodbye, Let's Stay Together
Bo Diddley
(December 30th, 1928 - June 2nd, 2008)
Awards and Recognition:- Induction into the Washington Area Music Association's Hall of Fame in 1986, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 1987, Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, and the North Florida Music Association's Hall of Fame in 2000, Blues Foundation's Blues Hall of Fame in 2004, Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2009, and Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2010, posthumously conferred honorary degree by the University of Florida in 2008, Lifetime Achievement Award from Guitar Player magazine in 1990, Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 1998, and Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999 for "Bo Diddley".

Well-Known Songs:- Bring it to Jerome, Dearest Darling, I'm A Man, Diddley Daddy, Who Do You Love
B. B. King
(September 16th, 1925)
Awards and Recognition:- Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 1971, Grammy Award for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording in 1982, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987, MTV Video Music Award for Best Video from a Film in 1989, Kennedy Center Honors in 1995, Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals in 2001, Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 2003, 2006, and 2009, and Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998 for "The Thrill Is Gone / You're Mean.", in 2004, in 2006 for "Live at the Regal", and in 2014 for "3 O'Clock Blues".

Well-Known Songs:- The Thrill is Gone, 3 O'Clock Blues, Lucille, Hold On I'm Coming, Darling What Happened
Famous African-American Singers between 1980 - Present
Lionel Richie
Lionel Richie
(June 20th, 1949)
Awards and Recognition:- Academy Award for the Best Music, Original Song in 1986, Golden Globe Award for the Best Original Song - Motion Picture in 1986, ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards for the Most Performed Feature Film Standards in 1991, 4 Grammy Awards, 13 American Music Awards, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Male Artist in 1983, NAACP Image Award for Entertainer of the Year in 1987, People's Choice Award for Favorite Music Video in 1987, Star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003, TV Land Icon Award in 2008, Special Echo Award in 2009, CMT Music Award for CMT Performance of the Year in 2014, and BET Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.

Well-Known Songs:- All Night Long, Say You, Say Me, Stuck On You, Truly, My Love, Dancing On the Ceiling
Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson
(August 29th, 1958 - June 25th, 2009)
Awards and Recognition:- 26 American Music Awards, 86 Billboard Awards, 17 BRIT Awards, 3 MOBO Awards, 19 Grammy Awards, 75 MTV Awards, 22 Soul Train Awards, 36 NAACP Image Awards, 100 RIAA Awards, 22 American Video Awards, 38 World Music Awards, 31 Guinness World Records, and many Presidential Awards.

Well-Known Songs:- Thriller, Black or White, Beat It, Bad, Heal The World, Earth Song, Billie Jean
Babyface
(April 10th, 1959)
Awards and Recognition:- BMI Film & TV Award for Most Performed Song from a Film in 1990, and 1993, Soul Train Music Award for Sammy Davis, Jr. - Entertainer of the Year in 1997, Soul Train Music Award for Stevie Wonder Award - Outstanding Achievement in Songwriting in 2007, Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Album, Male in 1990, and 1994, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Song in 1998, NAACP Image Award for Entertainer of the Year in 1998, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Album in 1998, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Male Artist in 1997, and 1998, American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist in 1998, American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist in 1995, and 1998, 10 Grammy Awards, and a Star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2013.

Well-Known Songs:- End of the Road, When Can I See You, Every Time I Close My Eyes, Pray For Me, Superwoman
John Lee Hooker
(August 22nd, 1917 - June 21st, 2001)
Awards and Recognition:- Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award in 1999, Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 1990, 1996, and 1998, Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals in 1998, Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998 for "Boogie Chillen'", induction into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, a Star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.

Well-Known Songs:- Boogie Chillen', Hobo Blues, I'm In the Mood, Think Twice Before You Go
Prince
(June 7th, 1958)
Awards and Recognition:- 7 Grammy Awards, 4 MTV Video Music Awards, Academy Award for Best Original Song Score, and Academy Award for Best Original Musical in 1985 for "Purple Rain", American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Album, American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Single, and American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Album in 1985, People's Choice Award for Favorite New Song in 1985, NME Award for Best Single in 1987, Soul Train Music Award for Heritage Award - Career Achievement in 1992, Brit Award for Best International Solo Artist in 1993, and 1995, Brit Award for International Male Solo Artist in 1995, and 1996, American Music Award of Merit in 1995, Soul Train Music Special Artist of the Decade Award for Extraordinary Artistic Achievements-Male in 2000, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Album in 2005, BET Award for Best Male R&B/Pop Artist in 2006, Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 2007, BET Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010, and Billboard Icon Award in 2013.

Well-Known Songs:- Raspberry Beret, When Doves Cry, Baby I'm a Star, I'll Always Love You, Under The Cherry Moon, If You See Me
Luther Vandross
(April 20th 1951 - July 1st, 2005)
Awards and Recognition:- 8 Grammy Awards, 8 NAACP Image Awards, American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist in 1992, 1996, 2002, and 2003, American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Album in 1992, and 2003, Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Single, Male in 1990, and 2004, Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Album, Male in 1987, and 1992, and posthumous Star of the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2014.

Well-Known Songs:- Dance With My Father, Never Too Much, Give Me the Reason, Here and Now, How Deep Is Your Love, Always and Forever
Aaron Neville
(January 24th, 1941)
Awards and Recognition:- Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals in 1990, and 1991, Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals in 1995, and NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Gospel Artist in 2001.

Well-Known Songs:- Tell It Like It Is, Somewhere Somebody, Don't Take Away My Heaven, Can't Stop My Heart from Loving You (The Rain Song), Stand by Me, It Feels Like Rain
Usher
(October 14th, 1978)
Awards and Recognition:- 8 Grammy Awards, 8 American Music Awards, 20 Billboard Music Awards, 2 MTV Video Music Awards, 9 Soul Train Music Awards, 2 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, 2 People's Choice Awards, and 3 NAACP Image Awards.

Well-Known Songs:- DJ Got Us Fallin' in Love, OMG, Burn, Love in This Club, My Boo, Scream
Lenny Kravitz
(May 26th, 1964)
Awards and Recognition:- MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video in 1993, Brit Award for International Male Solo Artist in 1994, Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance in 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002, American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist in 2002, and being awarded the title of Officer, by Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Well-Known Songs:- Are You Gonna Go My Way, Rock and Roll Is Dead, Fly Away, American Woman, If I Could Fall In Love
Muddy Waters
(April 4th, 1913 - April 30th, 1983)
Awards and Recognition:- Grammy Award for the Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording in 1971, 1972, 1975, 1977, 1978, and 1979, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992, Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998 for "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man", in 1999 for "Got My Mojo Workin' ", in 2000 for "Rollin' Stone", and in 2010, Blues Music Award for Reissue Album of the Year in 1994, and 1995, Blues Music Award for Traditional Blues Album of the Year in 2000, Blues Music Award for Historical Blues Album of the Year in 2002, Blues Music Award for Historical Album of the Year in 2006, induction into Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1980, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and a photograph on a 29 cents Commemorative stamp by the US Postal Service in 1994.

Well-Known Songs:- I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man, Baby, Please Don't Go, Long Distance Call, Louisiana Blues
Chris Brown
(May 5th, 1989)
Awards and Recognition:- 1 Grammy Award, 3 MTV Video Music Awards, 2 NAACP Image Awards, 2 Soul Train Music Awards, 7 Teen Choice Awards, 1 World Music Award, 1 Ozone Award, 1 TRL Awards, 10 Billboard Music Awards, 32 BET Awards, 3 BET Hip Hop Awards, and 3 American Music Awards.

Well-Known Songs:- Turn Up the Music, Don't Wake Me Up, Beautiful People, Forever, Kiss Kiss, Superhuman, I Wanna Be, With You
Ne-Yo
Ne-Yo
(October 18th, 1982)
Awards and Recognition:- Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist in 2007, Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album in 2008, Soul Train Music Award for Best Collaboration in 2009, Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance in 2009, Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 2009, BET Award for Best Male R&B/Pop Artist in 2007, and 2009, and Billboard Music Award for Top Radio Song in 2012.

Well-Known Songs:- Let Me Love You, Mad, So Sick, Beautiful Monster, Miss Independent, Closer
Akon
(April 16th, 1973)
Awards and Recognition:- MTV Europe Music Award for Best Video in 2007, American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist in 2007, World Music Award for World's Best Selling Internet Artist in 2007, World Music Award for World's Best Selling R&B Male in 2007, Billboard Music Award for Top Artist in 2007, BET Hip Hop Award for Best Producer of the Year in 2008, and World Music Award for World's Best Selling African Artist in 2007, 2008, and 2010.

Well-Known Songs:- Right Now, Lonely, Beautiful, Smack That, Don't Matter, I'm So Paid, Bananza
So this was our extensive, yet far from exhaustive list, of notable, and extremely popular African-American male singers through the ages. Their music is so transcendent and soul-stirring, that I can safely state that anyone reading this must be having at least one song by one of these artists on his or her iPod or any other music playlist at this very moment. If you feel we have missed out an artist who truly deserves to be mentioned, do leave a comment.
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