This is our list of some of the best UK R&B artists of all time.
R&B may have originated in the USA, but many UK artists have made it their own in the genre’s rich history. Whether they are making cutting edge modern R&B with Hip-Hop influenced production, or singing classic R&B in the soulful mould, British R&B artists are responsible for some of the best music the genre has ever heard. Here is a list of some of the best.
1. Loose Ends
Recently signed to the MN2S Booking Agency, Loose Ends were one of the UK’s premiere R&B groups in the 1980s, and they continue to delight audiences today.
Formed in London in 1980, originally as a trio, Loose Ends released five studio albums of the finest synth-tinged R&B – the kind that is back in vogue in today’s charts thanks to artists such as Blood Orange. Their albums and singles charted around the world, with particular success in R&B’s native USA.
Known by some as the father of British Neo Soul, Omar grew up in Canterbury, Kent, and started his musical journey as a classical pianist, percussionist and trumpeter. His debut single ‘There’s Nothing Like This’ is the true definition of an instant classic, charting in 1991 and returning to prominence with a brand new version released on his 2013 album The Man.
With an illustrious career behind him, Omar shows no signs of slowing down. His latest studio album, Love in Beats, was released at the end of January 2017, and it features collaborations with the likes of Robert Glasper and Soul legend Leon Ware.
3. Amy Winehouse
Despite hailing from North London, Amy Winehouse channeled pure Soul in a way no singer had since the Motown era. Bursting on the scene with her Jazz-tinged debut album Frank in 2003, Winehouse became one of the UK’s most successful artists of all time, with multiple Grammy awards and a sophomore album, Back to Black, that broke UK sales records.
Struggles with alcohol unfortunately cut her career short, but Amy Winehouse still remains one of the UK’s greatest ever R&B artists to this day.
The name of both the lead singer, Sade Adu, and her backing band, Sade, Sade was one of the most successful British artists of the 80s and 90s in any genre, with debut album Diamond Life charting at number one in seven territories and selling over six-million copies.
Sade’s distinctively smooth and luscious vocals propelled singles such as ‘Smooth Operator’ to all-time-classic status, and kept the band’s fruitful career going for over 30 years – from 1982 to today.
Estelle originally made her name as a rapper with the album The 18th Day and her Da Heat mixtape series. After this she signed to John Legend’s label Homeschool and released her follow-up album Shine, which catapulted her to mainstream success as an R&B singer in the USA.
The album’s lead single ‘American Boy’ featuring Kanye West was one of the biggest hits of the 00s. Estelle went on to work with Nas, Will.i.am, Mark Ronson and Wyclef Jean among others. She later launched her own label Established 1980 Records, and continued her career as an independent artist.
8. Blood Orange
After a successful career as an indie rock artist under the name Lightspeed Champion, London singer-songwriter-producer Devonté Hynes turned his talents to R&B.
Under the moniker of Blood Orange, Hynes has crafted some of the most innovative, stylish and modern R&B of the 21st century so far, and on his latest album Freetown Sound he deftly tackled deep, important topics such as black identity and police brutality in a highly engaging way.