1. Entertainment
Send to a Friend via Email

Your suggestion is on its way!

An email with a link to:


was emailed to:

Thanks for sharing About.com with others!

You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Best Modern-Day Soul Artists


Most people like and appreciate at least a little classic Soul: artists like James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and Ray Charles all have enduring legacies that have lasted for decades. Even today, all around the world, classic Soul is as popular now as it was during its early days back in the 1960s. But although there are plenty of Soul legends, there are also plenty of contemporary artists keeping the legacy of the art form alive. Anthony Hamilton, Mary J. Blige and others are among the deep, gritty Soul artists who are among today's best. Look below for the full list.

1. Anthony Hamilton

Who?: Anthony Hamilton is a down-n-gritty singer from North Carolina.
Why Him? His passionate, down-home style of singing epitomizes what real Soul music is all about. He's sort of a modern-day Otis Redding - only better.
Essential Song: "Do You Feel Me?," from the American Gangster soundtrack, 2007.
Essential Album: Comin' From Where I'm From, 2003.

2. Mary J. Blige

Who?: Mary J., aka The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, is one of the most successful R&B/Soul singers of this, or any, generation.
Why Her?: Her expressive, golden voice is incredibly dynamic and powerful. Her vocals can be matched be very few living singers, among them Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan.
Essential Songs: "Real Love," 1992; "Not Gon' Cry," from the Waiting to Exhale soundtrack, 1996; "Be Without You," 2005.
Essential Album: All of them.

3. Raphael Saadiq

Who?: Raphael Saadiq, former known as Raphael Wiggins, is a founding member of the groundbreaking 1990s neo-soul trio Tony! Toni! Toné!. He also founded the short-lived R&B supergroup Lucy Pearl.
Why Him?: Ra is one of the best, yet most underrated Soul artists of the past 20 years. His contributions to neo-soul - and Soul music in general - have helped push the genre ahead tremendously.
Essential Song: "100 Yard Dash," 2007; "Dance Tonight" (with Lucy Pearl), 2000; "(Lay Your Head on My) Pillow" (1993) and "The Blues," (1989) both with Tony! Toni! Toné!.
Essential Album: The Way I See It, 2008.

4. D'Angelo

Who?: Michael Archer, aka D'Angelo, is Grammy-winning singer-songwriter-musician who's known as much for his sex appeal as for his music.
Why Him?: Not only does his smoky, soulful voice sound incredible, but his piano and guitar playing are also excellent.
Essential Songs: "Brown Sugar," "Lady" and "Crusin'," all from his multi-platinum 1995 debut album.
Essential Album: Brown Sugar, 1995.

5. Joss Stone

Who?: Jocelyn Stone (you can call her Joss) is a young, female R&B/Soul singer from the UK. By the time she turned 20 in April 2007, she had already released three critically-acclaimed Soul albums.
Why Her?: Next to Amy Winehouse and Teena Marie, she's the most commercially successful white female Soul singer ever. And she still hasn't even reached her full potential yet.
Essential Songs: Fell in Love with a Boy," (a cover the White Stripes' "Fell In Love With A Girl") 2004; "Tell Me What We're Gonna Do Now," feat. Common, 2007.
Essential Album: The Soul Sessions, 2003.

6. Maxwell

Who?: Maxwell is a multi-Grammy-nominated R&B/Soul singer known for his sweet falsetto and unusual album titles.
Why Him?: Maxwell was one of the most lauded and commercially successful neo-soul artists of the late 1990s and early 2000s. He hasn't released a new album since 2001, though.
Essential Songs: "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)" and "'Til The Cops Come Knockin'" from his 1996 debut album, Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite.
Essential Album: MTV Unplugged (a must-have eight-song EP), 2007.

7. Leela James

Who?: Leela is a Los Angeles-born singer-songwriter who has a deep, incredibly Soulful and emotion-filled singing voice despite the fact that her normal speaking voice is very high-pitched and girlish.
Why Her?: Her rich, gritty vocals sound like a modern version equivalent of classicly powerful singers like Chaka Khan and Tina Turner.
Essential Song: "Music," from her 2005 debut album, A Change is Gonna Come.
Essential Album: A Change is Gonna Come.

8. Rahsaan Patterson

Who?: Rah, a former child actor, has been released Soul albums for over 10 years, beginning with his 1997 self-titled debut.
Why Him?: Rahsaan might not be a household name like some of the others on this list, but he's just as Soulful. Sometimes he carries so much pain in his voice, you'd almost think that somebody just shot his mama.
Essential Songs: "Oh Lord (Take Me Back)" and "Cloud 9," both 2007.
Essential Album: Wines & Spirits, 2007.

9. Joy Denalane

Who?: Joy is a German-born and raised singer of African heritage who sings in both her native language and English.
Why Her?: Because she's arguably the most talented Soul singer not from the United States. Ever.
Essential Song: "Change," feat. Lupe Fiasco, 2006.
Essential Album: Born & Raised, 2006.

10. Governor

Who?: His full name is Governor Washington, Jr., and if that ain't a Soul singer's name, then what is?
Why Him?: Despite very little mainstream attention, Governor, who used to be signed to T.I.'s Grand Hustle label, has put out two very deep, spiritual Soul albums that exemplify the genre at its best.
Essential Song: "Blood, Sweat & Tears," 2006.
Essential Album: Son of Pain, 2006.

11. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

Who?: Old-Soul vocalist Sharon Jones and her band, the Dap-Kings, are a Soul-Funk outfit out of Brooklyn, N.Y.
Why Them?: Their latest release, 100 Days, 100 Nights is a brilliant throwback to the classic Soul sound of the 1960s and '70s.
Essential Song: "100 Days, 100 Nights," 2007.
Essential Album: 100 Days, 100 Nights.
  1. About.com
  2. Entertainment
  3. R & B/Soul
  4. Top 10/Top 20 Lists
  5. Best Modern-Day Soul and R&B Artists

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.