Despite what you’ve heard, Black people are the world’s taste makers. We are the ones who say what’s hot or not. Once it becomes popular in our community, mainstream picks it up and runs away with it. Think about it. Big lips weren’t in style until Angelina Jolie had them. You and I both know plenty of black people who been had those features. The same can be said about black music. Rock & Roll was originated by black musicians and then was snatched out of our hands. Though many mainstream artists jack elements of R&B for their pop records, some mainstream artists blend the two together, which brings us to our list of top 10 blue eyed soul singers.
10. George Michael
Before he became infamous for abusing the nose candy and soliciting sex in public restrooms, George Michael was the melanin free artist of choice. Michael crafted pop songs only to add soulful inflections with his voice. He’s recorded duets with two of Black music’s biggest divas. He and Aretha Franklin had a smash with 1986’s “I Knew You Were Waiting.” In 1999, Whitney Houston recruited him for “If I Told You That.” If you’re giving me side eye for putting him on the list, you should be aware his massive hit, “Careless Whisper” has been covered by everyone from Brian McKnight to Tamia.
9. Joss Stone
The talent and vocal prowess of this British import have recently been overshadowed by reports of a deranged man’s plot to end her life. On a lighter note, Stone was introduced to American audiences with the multi-platinum disc, The Soul Sessions. That was a collection of obscure soul covers with the leading single being a ?uestlove assisted cover of The White Stripes’ “Fell In Love With A Girl.” Her follow up album paired her with producers like Novel and Raphael Saadiq. Stone also has the distinction of being the first artist to get Lauryn Hill on a track after her self imposed hiatus. Don’t believe me, check out “Music.”
8. Michael McDonald
If there was any white musician who has broken down barriers in the soul music arena, it would be Michael McDonald. Starting out as a session vocalist, McDonald was recruited by The Doobie Brothers. He wrote and sang lead on their most successful song, “What A Fool Believes.” Michael won two Grammys for the ubiquitous single. Subsequently, Patti LaBelle and McDonald worked together on her 1987 hit,“On My Own.” Sensing soul music’s appreciation dwindling, Michael has been releasing soul cover albums since 2003.
7. Hall & Oates
These two men had the eighties blue eyed soul movement on lock. Daryl Hall and John Oates made pop music but infused the soul of their hometown, Philadelphia, into every song. No matter what you say, “I Can’t Go For That” still gets heavy spins in the soul community. The title has even entered our lexicon. De La Soul sampled the duo’s work for “Say No Go” off of the seminal, 3 Feet High And Rising. Due to their hits and the samples, Hall & Oates were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003. In addition to the immense accolades, Billboard Magazine placed them a number 15 on their 100 Greatest Artists Of All Time. Can’t argue with that.
6. Jon B.
This Rhode Island native sounded so much like a brotha when he hit the scene, many thought he was Puerto Rican instead of white. Babyface’s duet with him,“Someone To Love,” had fans comparing the two singers. Jon B.’s biggest it s came in 1997. “They Don’t Know” helped catapult Cool Relax to the top of the album sales charts for the year. After a few personal and professional setbacks, Jon took time off to regroup and be with his wife and family. He’s currently in the studio working on a new album.
5. Robin Thicke
Not only is he one of the most popular R&B singers of our time, he is married to one of the baddest chicks in the game. Paula Patton’s husband has crafted hits for Usher, Brandy, and Lil Wayne. Robin popped up on everyone’s radar when his song, “When I Get You Alone” was used in a Sprite commercial back in 2001. An album was released then, but sales were less than stellar. After securing a deal with Interscope Records, Robin Thicke dropped The Evolution of Robin Thicke. That set featured the smooth “Lost Without You” and then odd pairing of Thicke and Weezy on “Shooter.” Robin Thicke continues to write for other artists as well as crafting his next project. We’re sure it’s going to be the perfect soundtrack for sexy time sessions.
4. Bee Gees
Don’t you even try to act like you haven’t bumped one of heir songs at least once! Matter of fact, you can’t say that. If you happen to enjoy Wyclef’s “We Tryin’ To Stay Alive,” thank the Bee Gees. Sing Destiny’s Child’s “Emotions” at a karaoke bar when you’ve had more than three drinks? Blame the Brothers Gibb. They wrote, arranged, and produced the original versions of the aforementioned songs. However, for every triumph, their family has experienced extensive tribulations. The youngest Gibb, Andy, died in March of 1988 due to an inflamed heart brought on by a viral infection. When member, Maurice Gibb died unexpectedly, the remaining members ended the group. In 2009, the two reformed the group. Cheers to starting over.
3. Amy Winehouse
Say what you will about the alcoholism and ridiculous behavior, but home girl can sing. Amy Winehouse blended the techniques and vocal stylings of yesterday’s jazz singers and today’s in your face song writing to create a masterpiece. Back To Black is the album you put on when you’re feeling some type of way about a breakup. As depressing as Back To Black is, her first album, Frank, shows glimpses of hope when it comes to finding happiness. After her most recent live show debacle, Amy is back to recovering from her hard partying lifestyle. Get well soon.
Despite the fact Adele has a better voice than most singers out, I’m sure I’ll get people asking me why Adele is so high on the list when she only has two albums. The reason is because both of her efforts have been among the best selling of the year they hit shelves. The latest, 21, has broken digital album sales records. Plus, Adele’s most recent album has been a major component of helping records sales head in an upward trend. As for her debut, 19, that disc garnered Grammys for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. If that isn’t isn’t enough, you need to seek professional help. No, seriously. Seek professional help if you don’t vibe with Adele’s music.
1. Teena Marie
Nothing really needs to be said in defense of Teena Marie being number one. After all, we gave her the title of the Ivory Queen of Soul. The partnership of her and Rick James yielded one of the best duets ever created. “Fire and Desire” still sounds fresh in this day and age. Her solo hits like “Square Biz” still possess the power to make people gravitate towards the dance floor. Although she passed at closing of last year, Teena Marie’s music lives on and will continue to move the crowd for our children and their children.
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