100+ Best Black Singers of the 80s (Ultimate List)

80s-black-singers

The industry owes a lot to the black artists since they are the ones who shaped and created the trends we see today. From fashion to music, they have given us some of the best creations in history.

Even though the 80s was a time when racism was still very prevalent, there were many black artists who created some of the most iconic songs and albums that are still remembered today.

So, to celebrate their contributions, we’ve compiled a list of the best black singers of the 80s. From Michael Jackson to Prince, and Whitney Houston to Tina Turner, these are the artists that defined an era.


Top Best Black Singers of the 80s

This list is based on the highest album sales, influence over the fans, and overall impact on the music industry during the 80s.

  1. Michael Jackson
  2. Whitney Houston
  3. Prince
  4. Janet Jackson
  5. Tina Turner
  6. Stevie Wonder
  7. Lionel Richie
  8. Donna Summer
  9. Bobby Brown
  10. New Edition

Female Black Singers of the 80s

Today there are incredibly talented and extremely successful female artists like Beyonce, Rihanna, and Nicki Minaj, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the black female singers of the 80s who blazed the trail.

From Whitney Houston to Tina Turner, they were the first to break through many barriers and showed the world that black women could be just as successful, if not more, than their white counterparts.

So, in honor of their contributions, here are the best black female singers of the 80s. These are the singers who helped change the game and made a lifelong impact on the music industry.

  • Whitney Houston
  • Sade
  • Vanity
  • Grace Jones
  • Tina Turner
  • Irene Cara
  • Janet Jackson
  • Pebbles
  • Chaka Khan
  • Phyllis Hyman

Male Black Singers of the 80s

In the midst of the hard rock and hair metal crazes of the 80s, we often forget about the incredible male black singers who were making some of the best music of the decade.

80s Male black icons like Michael Jackson and Prince were not only creating some of the catchiest tunes but also changing the game when it came to fashion and style.

And it all came from the hard work and raw talent of these these artists. Though some of them are not with us anymore, their music continues to inspire millions.

  • Michael Jackson
  • Luther Vandross
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Lionel Richie
  • Marvin Gaye
  • Prince
  • Barry White
  • Tupac Shakur
  • Billy Ocean
  • Bobby Brown

Gay Black Singers of the 80s

The early 80s were an important time for LGBTQ+ rights and visibility, and there were many black gay singers who used their platform to help further the cause.

Figures like Sylvester, Grace Jones, and Little Richard were some of the first openly gay celebrities and their music helped break down many barriers.

Thanks to them, LGBTQ+ people had someone to look up to and their music helped spread awareness and acceptance. Above all, they were proud of who they were and didn’t let anyone stop them from being their true selves.

  • Sylvester
  • Grace Jones
  • RuPaul
  • Little Richard
  • Frankie Knuckles
  • Labi Siffre
  • Doug Pinnick
  • Kevin Aviance

Black Country Singers of the 80s

There was a time when country music was known for its twangy guitars and its tales of heartbreak, loss, and love. But in the 1980s, a new breed of country singer emerged from the Black community. These artists brought a new sound and a new perspective to the genre, which all together helped it become more mainstream.

Among the most successful Black country singers of the 1980s were Charley Pride, Darius Rucker, and Tina Turner. They racked up dozens of hits on the country charts and won multiple Grammy Awards between them.

What’s more is that they all continued to have success in the years following the 80s, which is a testament to their talent and staying power.

  • Charley Pride
  • Darius Rucker
  • Aaron Neville
  • Tina Turner
  • Ray Charles
  • Lionel Richie
  • Al Green
  • O. B. McClinton

Early, Mid, Late 80s Black Singers

Every decade has its defining moments, and the 1980s was no different. The early part of the decade was all about synthesizers and new wave music. Singers like Duran Duran, Madonna, and Cyndi Lauper dominated the charts with their catchy pop songs.

While the mid-80s saw the rise of hair metal and hard rock. Powerhouses like Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, and Bon Jovi took over the airwaves with their loud and aggressive music.

And by the late 80s, hip hop and rap were beginning to take over the charts. Rappers like N.W.A., Public Enemy, and Beastie Boys were making a name for themselves with their controversial lyrics and innovative beats.

But through it all, there were many incredibly talented black singers who managed to find success no matter what genre they were singing. Here are some of the bests from all three periods.

Early 80s Black Singers

  • Michael Jackson
  • Diana Ross
  • Prince
  • Whitney Houston
  • Janet Jackson

Mid 80s Black Singers

  • Vanessa Williams
  • Pebbles
  • Tracy Chapman
  • Evelyn “Champagne” King
  • Kashif

Late 80s Black Singers

  • Tupac Shakur
  • Charlie Wilson
  • Phillip Leo
  • Angela Winbush
  • Tony Terry
  • Karyn White

80s Black Pop Singers

The ’80s pop scene was full of flamboyant stars who knew how to put on a show. From Madonna to Michael Jackson, they were the queens and kings of pop. But they weren’t the only ones making waves in the industry.

There were many others who managed to find success in the 80s, including Lionel Richie, Prince, and Stevie Wonder. Each of these brought something unique to the table with Michael Jackson leading the pack as the biggest pop star of them all.

If there was one thing the ’80s pop scene lacked, it was diversity. But that all changed with the introduction of Janet Jackson. She quickly rose to fame with her groundbreaking album “Control” and became one of the most successful black pop singers of all time.

  • Michael Jackson
  • Freddie Jackson
  • Prince
  • Anita Baker
  • Patti Labelle
  • Whitney Houston
  • The Pointer Sisters
  • Lionel Richie
  • Janet Jackson
  • Rick James

80s Black R&B Singers

The black community has given the world many gifts, but one of the most important and influential is R&B music. R&B has its roots in the blues, which was created by black Americans in the early 1900s. The blues was a way for black people to express their emotions and experiences in a creative and powerful way. R&B took the best aspects of the blues and added elements of jazz, gospel, and soul to create a new sound that would soon take over the world.

R&B has been a major force in popular music for over 50 years now, and it shows no signs of slowing down. It has influenced everything from rock and roll to hip hop, and it continues to be one of the most popular genres of music today.

And as we are talking about the 1980s, it would be impossible to discuss R&B without mentioning some of the genre’s biggest stars. People like Marvin Gaye, Whitney Houston, and Anita Baker were churning out hits and selling millions of records. They were true superstars in every sense of the word.

Male 80s R&B Singers

  • Nathan Morris
  • Marc Nelson
  • Keith Sweat
  • Shawn Stockman
  • Wanya Morris
  • Michael McCary
  • Raphael Saadiq

Female 80s R&B Singers

  • Chaka Khan
  • Mary J. Blige
  • Janet Jackson
  • Whitney Houston
  • Patti LaBelle
  • Diana Ross
  • Aretha Franklin

80s Black Hip Hop & Rap Singers

As mentioned in Wikipedia the 80s is considered the golden age of hip hop. It was a time when the genre was just beginning to find its footing, and artists were experimenting with different sounds and styles.

This experimentation led to the birth of many different subgenres, including gangsta rap, new jack swing, and conscious hip hop. It was also a time when some of the most iconic and influential rappers emerged, including Eric B. & Rakim, Run-DMC, and LL Cool J.

And while we can’t name every single great black rapper from the ’80s, we would be remiss if we didn’t at least mention a few of the pioneers who paved the way for the rest. Here are just a few of the most important and influential rappers from that decade.

  • Ice-T
  • NWA
  • LL Cool J
  • Kurtis Blow
  • MC Hammer
  • Public Enemy
  • Run DMC
  • Eazy-E
  • Slick Rick
  • Big Daddy Kane

80s Black One Hit Wonders

Every decade has its share of one-hit wonders, and the ’80s were no exception. There were many artists who managed to find success with a single song, only to fade into obscurity soon after.

But that’s not to say that these one-hit wonders were any less talented than the artists who found sustained success. In fact, many of them were extremely talented and their songs are still remembered fondly today. Doesn’t matter if they only had one hit.

  • Al B. Sure! (Song – Nite and Day)
  • Bobby McFerrin (Song – Don’t Worry Be Happy)
  • Gregory Abbott (Song – Shake You Down)
  • MARRS (Song – Pump Up The Volume)
  • Oran “Juice” Jones (Song – The Rain)
  • Rockwell (Song – Somebody’s Watching Me)
  • Timex Social Club (Song – Rumors)
  • The Weather Girls (Song – It’s Raining Men)

80s Black Soul Singers

Soul music is a genre that has its roots in the African-American experience. It is a sound that is steeped in pain and struggle, but also in hope and joy. Soul music is about the human experience, and it is one of the most emotionally powerful genres of music.

Though soul is often associated with the 60s and 70s, the genre continued to be popular in the 80s with artists like Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, and Marvin Gaye.

Aretha Franklin in particular had a huge impact in the 80s. She released some of her best-selling albums during that decade, including “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” and “Aretha.” She also earned her first Gold record in 1982 with the album “Jump To It.”

Luther Vandross was another soul singer who found success in the 80s. Noted for his sweet voice and romantic lyrics, Vandross released his debut album “Never Too Much” in 1981. The album was a huge success, reaching the top of the R&B charts and selling over a million copies. Vandross would go on to release several more successful albums in the 80s, including “Forever, For Always, For Love” and “Give Me the Reason.”

Last but not least, we have Marvin Gaye. Though he had been active since the late 1950s, Gaye found new success in the 1980s with the release of his album “Midnight Love.” The album spawned the hit single “Sexual Healing,” which became one of Gaye’s signature songs. Midnight Love would go on to sell over six million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums of Gaye’s career. Unfortunately, this was Gaye’s final studio album as he was tragically killed in 1984.

These are just a few of the many talented black soul singers who found success in the 1980s. Here are some more.

  • Michael Jackson
  • Barry White
  • Diana Ross
  • Morris Day
  • Jocelyn Brown
  • BeBe Winans
  • Luther Vandross
  • Charlie Wilson
  • Marvin Gaye
  • Stevie Wonder

British Black Singers of the 80s

The fact that many black singers found success in the United Kingdom is often overlooked. But it’s important to remember that black Britons have been making music for centuries, and they have had a significant impact on the country’s music scene.

Besides being highly talented, black British singers have also been at the forefront of social and political change. This was especially true in the 1980s, when many black Britons were fighting for equality and against racism.

And for these singers, their only weapon was their music. With their powerful voices and moving lyrics, they were able to inspire change and bring attention to the struggles of black Britons.

Some of the most prominent black British singers of the 1980s include Sade, Seal, and Soul II Soul.

80s Male British Singers

  • Barry Adamson
  • Junior Giscombe
  • Don Campbell
  • Clem Curtis
  • Toby Foyeh
  • Steven Dante
  • Phillip Leo
  • Vivian Jones
  • Dennis Seaton
  • Mike McKenzie

80s Female British Singers

  • Sade
  • Joan Armatrading
  • Sinitta
  • Ruby Turner
  • Dee C Lee
  • O’Chi Brown
  • Janet Kay
  • Louisa Mark
  • Taffy
  • Tracy Spencer

Forgotten Black Singers of the 80s

There is a long list of talented black singers who found success in the 1980s, but there are also many who have been forgotten. These are singers who had a few hits but never quite made it to the top.

Some have faded into obscurity, while others have continued to make music but have never regained the level of success they once had. But regardless of their current situation, these singers all made great music in the 1980s and deserve to be remembered.

Here are some forgotten black singers of the 1980s.

  • Vesta Williams
  • Lisa Fischer
  • Phyllis Hyman
  • Barbara Weathers
  • Syreeta Wright
  • Alisa Delois Peoples
  • Sybil
  • Shirley Murdock
  • Rebbie Jackson
  • Patti Austin

Wrapping Up For Our 80s Black Singers List

As you saw from this list, the 80s were a great decade for black singers. Though soul and R&B were the most popular genres, there were also many talented black singers in other genres, such as pop, rock, and hip-hop.

Whether they were topping the charts or fighting for social justice, these singers used their talents to make a positive impact on the world. And their music continues to inspire and entertain us today.

Now that you have the list, go ahead and give these singers a listen. We’re sure you’ll enjoy their music as much as we do. And who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new favorite singer from the past.