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Top 10 Female R&B Artists of the 80s and 90s

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80s & 90s Rhythm and Blues

Top 80s R&B Female Singers and 90s R&B Female Groups & Singers

No other era was as golden of an era than the time of 80s and 90s R&B female artists, a generation that produced hit after hit and music that has easily stand the test of time.  While the 1970s was a legendary with numerous classics of soul music, music of the 1980s and 1990s was truly an iconic time in music as we witnessed the rise of numerous stars throughout the two decades.

Top Ten 80s R&B and 90s R&B Female Artists

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1. Whitney Houston

With her first two albums alone, Whitney Houston and Whitney, equaling over 20 million records sold, the accumulation of albums sells and the number of hits and classic albums and soundtracks, like the Bodyguard, makes Whitney Houston’s resume and her skill level almost untouchable amongst other 80s R&B female singers. In all, Whitney Houston is easily one of the greatest singers of all-time.

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2. Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson’s career took a slow start with her first two albums, Janet Jackson and Dream Street, not performing as well as expected. But after the releases of Control in 1986, Rhythm Nation in 1989, and janet in 1993, Janet Jackson quickly emerged from the shadows of the Jackson name and became an artist of her own, and not just the sister of Michael Jackson.

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3. Aaliyah

A talented and beautiful woman whose career was unfortunately cut short, but her legacy in music and in films has lived on forever following her death.  “Back & Forth”, “One in a Million”, “Try Again”, and “Rock the Boat” are just a few of her hits that she was able to create during her time here, leaving a legacy that fans will always cherish.

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4. Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey has sold well over 100 million records since debuting in 1990 with her first release Mariah Carey. Since her debut, Mariah Carey has stayed consistent for two full decades, throughout the 1990s and 2000s, even reaching the status of creating three diamond selling albums.

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5. TLC

An iconic group that gave the world not only forever classics of “Creep”, “Waterfalls”, “No Scrubs”, “Red Light Special”, and “What About Your Friends”, but also blessed the world with Left Eye, Chili, and T-Boz.  A unique group that often produced imitators trying to create the same fire as the three, but there will never be anything like the trio of T-Boz, Left Eye, and Chili.

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6. Toni Braxton

Back-to-back classics, Toni Braxton and Secret, that both sold over 10 million worldwide would quickly make the mid-1990s all about Toni Braxton.  A true legend of the 1990s rhythm and blues scene as she continued a successful career well into the 2000s.

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7. Brandy

One of the most underrated artists on the list, but during the 1990s Brandy brought much to rhythm and blues. Her self-titled album Brandy would go on to sell over 6 million worldwide and Never Say Never would do even better by selling over 10 million worldwide.  Without the numbers, just listening to Brandy one can witness how special of an artist she was, especially as she peaked from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s.

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8. Mary J. Blige

Arriving in the early 1990s and continuing a very successful career well into the 2010s, Mary J. Blige easily transitioned her career through both R&B and hip hop fanbases, while being one of the most respected artists of her era.  

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9. Destiny’s Child

Even though the group of Destiny’s Child was at times in the shadows of Beyonce, without question Destiny’s Child’s powerful arrival of the late 1990s led to their complete dominance of the 2000s and for Beyonce to eventually become not only one of the most accomplished music artists of all-time, but also one of the biggest icons in music. 

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10. Monica

Another fan favorite, as her albums would almost always debut in the top ten on the charts, since The Boy is Mine. Monica’s debut album Miss Thang would be one of her most acclaimed.  With her powerful style, Monica is truly one of the all-time legends.

Honorable Mention 80s R&B Female Singers and 90s R&B Female Artists:

En Vogue. While most of their success was during the early 90s, Born to Sing and Funky Divas, the group was still able to contribute to the genre with their classic hit singles, like “Don’t Let Go” and “Free Your Mind”.

Xscape. Entering the music industry with the hit single “Just Kickin It”, the well known group featuring Tiny Harris and Kandi Burress was quite successful throughout the 1990s.

SWV. Arriving on the scene during the early 1990s, the group would be known for hit singles like “Weak” and “Right Here” and become one of the top 90s R&B female groups.

702. Hailing from Las Vegas, the reasoning behind the name of the 702, the group did make a name from themselves with the classic songs of “Where My Girls At” and “Get It Together”.

Blaque. Though very talented, this trio by the name of Blaque would only release one successful project, Blaque.

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