1. Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records. His contribution to music, dance and fashion, along with a much-publicized personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades. He is the most popular entertainer in human history and has sold 750 million solo albums with record shattering hits such as Thriller, Off The Wall, Dangerous, and Bad and 1 billion albums in combination with his brothers. Throughout his career transformed the art of the music video and paved the way for modern pop music. His legacy will forever live on. He is simply the greatest entertainer that ever lived.
Prince is “one of the most talented and commercially successful pop musicians of the last 20 years”, producing ten platinum albums and thirty Top 40 singles during his career. Prince founded his own recording studio and label, writing, self-producing and playing most, or all, of the instruments on his recordings. In addition, Prince has been a “talent promoter” for the careers of Sheila E., Carmen Electra, The Time and Vanity 6, and has written songs for these artists and others (including Chaka Khan, The Bangles, and Sinéad O’Connor). Prince also has several hundred unreleased songs in his “vault”. He has won seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award.He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, the first year he was eligible.In that same year Rolling Stone ranked Prince #28 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
3. James Brown
James Brown, a prolific singer, songwriter, dancer and bandleader, Brown was a pivotal force in the music industry, leaving his mark on numerous artists. Brown’s work found new life in the form of digital sampling; he would go on to become the most sampled artist in the history of the genre. Brown’s music also influenced the rhythms of African popular music, such as afrobeat, jùjú and mbalax, and provided a template for go-go music. A trademark feature of Brown’s stage shows, usually during the song “Please, Please, Please”, involved Brown dropping to his knees while clutching the microphone stand in his hands, prompting the show’s MC to come out, drape a cape over Brown’s shoulders and escort him off the stage after he had worked himself to exhaustion during his performance. As Brown was escorted off the stage by the MC, Brown’s vocal group, The Famous Flames, continued singing the background vocals “Please, please don’t go-oh-oh”. Brown would then shake off the cape and stagger back to the microphone to perform an encore. Brown’s routine was inspired by a similar one used by the professional wrestler Gorgeous George.
4. Tina Turner
Tina Turner’s career has spanned more than 50 years. She has won numerous awards and her achievements in the rock music genre have earned her the title The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Turner started out her music career with husband Ike Turner as a member of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. After virtually disappearing from the music scene for several years following her divorce from Ike Turner, she rebuilt her career, launching a string of hits beginning in 1983 with the single “Let’s Stay Together” and the 1984 release of her fifth solo album Private Dancer. One of the world’s most popular entertainers, Turner has been called the most successful female rock artist and was named “one of the greatest singers of all time” by Rolling Stone. Her albums and singles have sold nearly 180 million copies worldwide. She has sold more concert tickets than any other solo music performer in history. She is known for her energetic stage presence, powerful vocals, career longevity, and widespread appeal.
5. Stevie Wonder
Some of Wonder’s best known works include singles such as “Superstition”, “Sir Duke”, “I Wish” and “I Just Called to Say I Love You”. Well known albums also include Talking Book, Innervisions and Songs in the Key of Life. He has recorded more than thirty U.S. top ten hits and received twenty-two Grammy Awards, the most ever awarded to a male solo artist. Wonder is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a holiday in the United States. In 2009, Wonder was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 2008, Billboard magazine released a list of the Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists to celebrate the US singles chart’s fiftieth anniversary, with Wonder at number five.
6. Aretha Franklin
Singer, songwriter and pianist, known for her soul recordings and referred to as The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin is adept at jazz, blues, R&B and gospel music. Rolling Stone magazine ranked Franklin No. 1 on its list of The Greatest Singers of All Time. Franklin is one of the most honored artists by the Grammy Awards, with 18 competitive Grammys to date, and two honorary Grammys. She has scored a total of 20 No. 1 singles on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart, one of which also became her first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100: “Respect” (1967). “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” (1987), a duet with George Michael, became her second No. 1 on the latter chart. Since 1961, she has scored a total of 45 “Top 40” hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She also has the most million-selling singles of any female artist with 14. Between 1967 and 1982 she had 10 #1 R&B albums – more than any other female artist. In 1987, Franklin became the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was the only featured singer at the 2009 presidential inauguration of Barack Obama.
7. Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston is the most awarded female artist of all time, according to Guinness World Records, with 2 Emmy Awards, 6 Grammy Awards, 16 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, among a total of 411 career awards as of 2006. Houston is also one of the world’s best-selling music artists, having sold over 170 million albums and singles worldwide.Inspired by several prominent soul singers in her extended family, including her mother Cissy Houston, cousins Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Warwick, and Godmother Aretha Franklin, Houston began singing at her New Jersey church as a member of a junior gospel choir at age eleven. After she began performing alongside her mother in night clubs in the New York City area, she was discovered by Arista Records label head Clive Davis. Houston has released six studio albums and three movie soundtrack albums throughout her career, all of which have had diamond, multi-platinum, platinum, or gold certification. Houston released her debut album Whitney Houston in 1985, which became the best-selling debut album by a female act at the time of its release.Her second studio album Whitney (1987) became the first album by a female artist to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Houston’s crossover appeal on the popular music charts as well as her prominence on MTV, starting with her award-winning video for “How Will I Know”,enabled several African-American female artists to follow in her success.
8. Marvin Gaye
Gaye ranked as the label’s top-selling solo artist during the sixties. Because of solo hits such as “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)”, “Ain’t That Peculiar”, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and his duet singles with singers such as Mary Wells and Tammi Terrell, he was crowned “The Prince of Motown” and “The Prince of Soul”.His mid-1970s work, including the albums What’s Going On, Let’s Get It On and I Want You, helped influencing the quiet storm, urban adult contemporary and slow jam genres. After a self-imposed European exile in the early eighties, Gaye returned on the 1982 Grammy-Award winning hit, “Sexual Healing” and the Midnight Love album before his death. Gaye was shot dead by his father on April 1, 1984. He was posthumously inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. In 2008, the American music magazine Rolling Stone ranked Gaye at number 6 on its list of The Greatest Singers of All Time, and ranked at number 18 on 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
9. Janet Jackson
Having sold over 100 million records worldwide, Jackson is ranked as one of the best-selling artists in the history of contemporary music.The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lists her as the eleventh best-selling female artist in the United States, with 26 million certified albums. She has amassed an extensive catalog of hits, with singles such as “Nasty”, “Rhythm Nation”, “That’s the Way Love Goes”, “Together Again” and “All for You” among her most iconic. In 2008, Billboard released its list of the Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists, ranking her at number seven. In 2010, the magazine announced the “Top 50 R&B / Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years”, ranking her at number five. Her longevity, records and achievements reflect her influence in shaping and redefining the scope of popular music. She has been cited as an inspiration among numerous performers.
10. Curtis Mayfield
Curtis Mayfield was an American soul, R&B, and funk singer, songwriter, and record producer best known for his anthemic music with The Impressions and for composing the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Super Fly. For these works and others, he is highly regarded as a pioneer of funk and of politically conscious African-American music. He was also a multi-instrumentalist who played the guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, and drums. Curtis Mayfield is a winner of both the Grammy Legend Award (in 1994) and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (in 1995),and was a double inductee into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, inducted as a member of The Impressions into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, and again in 1999 as a solo artist. He is also a 2 time Grammy Hall of Fame inductee.