Queens Of R&B – How Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys & Rihanna Have Dominated The Genre

R&B has come a long way since its beginnings almost seventy years ago. The R&B singers of the present day owe a lot to the greats of the past who paved the way and contemporary R&B. In particular, they’re indebted to the likes of Whitney Houston and Aaliyah.

With flowing vocals and sultry beats, R&B has been transformed by the likes of Beyoncé and Rihanna. And at the moment, it’s women who are at the forefront of the genre. Here are a few of the best female R&B singers out there today.


Queen Bey reigns supreme in the R&B world – and has done for the past decade. Since she left Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé has grown into a global icon. With twenty-two Grammy Awards under her belt and 17.2 million albums sold as a solo artist, Beyoncé has solidified herself as one of the most successful artists in music industry history.

Her commercial and critical success is astounding. But in recent years, with her performance at the 2013 Super Bowl and the release of her most recent album Lemonade, she has also had a marked impact on the political conversation in America. Alongside artists like Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé has used her enormous platform to speak about black power and the portrayal of femininity in the media.


Her wavy vocals over the last few years have graced nearly every summer banger. Her seductive and sexy style has made her one of the most featured artists in popular music.

The Barbadian singer began in the early 2000s and has remained at the forefront of R&B ever since. From her first album, Music of the Sun, to her most recent, Anti, she has grown and transformed her style. Along the way, she has sold over 230 million records and picked up no less than eight Grammy awards.

She has managed to stay relevant and sound fresh because she has consistently been heading up new trends and reinventing her style.

Mary J Blige

The Queen of R&B continues to astound and whilst the likes of Rihanna and Beyoncé often occupy the spotlight their success is indebted to the strides Mary J Blige made before them.

After breaking into the music industry as a backing vocalist, she began her solo career with the release of What’s the 411 in 1992. Her style, power and vulnerability exudes throughout her music and has continued to garner her critical and commercial success since 1992.

Her follow-up My Life in 1994 remains one of the greatest R&B albums of all time. Whilst she has been through tough times over the years, most recently going through a divorce which she has talked about, she still performs sold out shows in 2017.

Alicia Keys

Since her debut album Songs in A Minor won five Grammy awards Alicia Keys has grown from strength to strength. She has been a great champion of R&B over the years and has elevated contemporary R&B with her exceptional musicianship and powerful songs.

Her albums have consistently blended R&B with styles ranging from Classical, Motown, Jazz and Gospel. She has been able to sound authentic and fresh throughout. With songs like ‘Fallin’ and features on tracks like ‘Empire State of Mind’ she has become one of the defining voices of R&B.

Mariah Carey

Emerging in the 90s, Mariah Carey was an exciting and talented R&B prospect who has since become a global icon having sold over 200 million records across the globe. Her debut album took the music industry by storm and saw her become the most successful recording artist of the 90s.

With songs like ‘Vision of Love’, ‘We Belong Together’ and ‘One Sweet Day’ she astounded everybody with her incomparable vocal range and her knack for putting together hit tunes. Carey continues to belt out her hits at her sold out live shows. Alongside other R&B stars like Beyonce and Rihanna her live shows are a spectacle to behold and continually raise the bar for live music.

She has remained a global icon and is still one of the standout artists of the R&B world.

Stars of the R&B are few and far between but the ones who are here, are here to stay. The legacy of those soul, gospel and jazz singers in the twentieth century is continued by the R&B queens of the twenty-first century who remain at the top of the music industry today.

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2 thoughts on “Queens Of R&B – How Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys & Rihanna Have Dominated The Genre

  1. “they’re indebted to the likes of Whitney Houston and Aaliyah.”
    Those are the two you invoke that modern R&B artists are indebted to? Is that a joke? Are you aware of the many true original R&B (real R&B) artists before them? And are you really calling Whitney Houston R&B? In fact, anything but pop/adult contemporary?

    “With flowing vocals and sultry beats, R&B has been transformed by the likes of Beyoncé and Rihanna.”
    Is this also a joke? Beyonce and Rihanna haven’t transformed anything musically (and they don’t make music, their team of songwriters and producers do). They are pop stars/pop-puppets who’s teams jump on all kinds of looming & established pop trends. They are not R&B artists. They’re barely artists themselves.

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