The 70s are a great decade to look to for music. The 70s saw a lot of black singers and musicians rise to fame.
Many of them are remembered as legends today and their songs are considered classics. The following is a round-up of the top black male singers of the 70s.
Lou Rawls was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1933. He grew up singing in church and other groups.
Through these groups, Lou Rawls came to meet other soon-to-be-famous black male singers and musicians such as Sam Cooke and Curtis Mayfield.
Lou Rawls would go on to sing alongside Sam Cooke in a gospel group. He would soon move on to sing in a few other music groups.
In 1955 Rawls would join the U.S army. After completing a tour in the army, Lou Rawls then joined one of his former music groups.
He then signed to a record label in 1959. He then released two singles that year, “Love, Love, Love”, and “Walkin’ (For Miles”. The following year, he released two more singles under a different record label.
In 1962, he signed to Capitol Records and released three albums with them. Two of them reached the Billboard charts and were very pivotal for his career.
He would go on to release a series of other hit singles and albums throughout the 60s and 70s. These would go on to certify him as one of the most legendary R&B and soul black male singers.
Barry White was born Barry Eugene Carter in 1944 in Galveston, Texas. White was jailed as a teenager for stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of Cadillac tires.
While in jail, he spent a lot of time listening to music. This led to him pursuing a career in music upon his release.
In the 1960s he began to join singing groups. His first single “Man Ain’t Nothin'” / “I Don’t Need It was released in 1966.
He would go on to do a lot of production on some key records in the music scene of the 1960s and 70s.
In the 1970s, White went on to pursue a solo music career. He released his first solo album in 1973 titled “I’ve Got So Much to Give”.
After having a series of Billboard chart toppers in the 70s, White started his own record label in 1979.
Later in his career, he would go on to win 2 Grammy’s, cementing his place as one of the top black male singers of the 70s.
Bill Withers was born in Slab Fork, West Virginia in 1938. At age 17, Withers joined the U.S army and in this time, he gained an interest in pursuing music.
After leaving the navy, Withers released the song “Three Nights and a Morning” in 1967.
Withers would continue to work on his music, performing in night clubs as he worked as an assembler for a few music companies.
In the early 1970s, Withers was signed to Sussex Records. His first album “Just As I Am” was released in 1971”.
Bill Withers would go on to win a Grammy for the song “Ain’t No Sunshine” off of this first album in 1972. His single “Lean on Me” from his second album went on to top the charts.
This cemented Withers as one o the top black male singers of the 70s. He would go on to released music prolifically throughout the 70s and afterwards.
Marvin Gaye was born Marvin Pentz Gay Jr. in Washington, D.C in 1939.
Gaye had in interest in music very early on in his life. He began singing in church when he was only four years old.
At age 17, Gaye joined the U.S army. After being issued a general discharge from the army, he formed a vocal music group.
The group was signed to OKeh records. But in 1960, the group disbanded. Gaye would go on to sign to different record labels, first as a drummer and then as a R&B and jazz performer.
His first single “Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide” was released in 1961. He would later release “Stubborn Kind of Fellow”, which was his first solo hit on the Billboard charts in 1962.
Marvin Gaye released a successful album in the 60s as well as many more hits.
In the 1970s, his career really peaked with the release of songs and albums such as “Let’s Get It On” in 1973. This album, among others, cemented him as one of the top black male singers of the 70s.
Al Green was born Albert Leornes Greene in Forrest City, Arkansas in 1946.
In high school, Al Green formed a vocal music group. This group went on to release a successful single.
Green then got into contact with the owner of Hi Records where he got signed in 1969.
Green’s first album was mildly successful. His second album “Green Gets Next to You” released in 1971 was a hit. This paved the way for him to become one o the top black male singers of the 70s.
The music group later changed their name to The Jackson Five.
In 1970, the group released “I Want You Back”, which reached number on the -Billboard charts.
Amid the success of The Jackson Five, Michael Jackson released 5 solo albums in the 1970s.
In 1980, Michael won three American Music Awards for his solo music, establishing him as one of the best musicians o the decade.
Michael Jackson would go on to release some of the best music of the following few decades and become one of music’s greatest legends.
Al Jarreau, A Black Man Singer
Al Jarreau was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1940. He sang in church groups with his family and in a musical group in college.
Upon graduating in 1962, Jarreau went on to do a master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation. In 1968, he decided to pursue a career in jazz as his main vocation.
His first album was released in 1975 under Warner Bros. Records. He would go on to win a few awards in the next few years. The most prominent of these was his first Grammy Award in 1978.
Jarreau went on to release a lot more great music in the genre in the following decades.
Ray Charles was born Ray Charles Robinson in Greenville, Florida in 1930.
Ray Charles suffered from glaucoma early in his life, losing his sight by the time he was seven years old.
Despite this, he learned how to use braille music and by 1947 he was working as a pianist.
Ray Charles would go on to sign with Swing Time Records. After releasing a series of hits, he was signed to Atlantic in 1952.
Ray Charles released a number of songs in the 50s that topped the Billboard R&B charts. By 1960, he had won a Grammy.
In the 70s, Ray Charles continued to release hit songs as well as making crossover records with other legends like Stevie Wonder.
Ray Charles’ musical presence would start to decline in the following decades. However, he did cement himself as one of the top black male singers of the 50, 60s and 1970s.
Stevie Wonder was born Stevland Hardaway Judkins in Saginaw, Michigan in 1950. Wonder was born premature, which led to him developing a condition that caused him to go blind.
Despite this, Wonder sang in a choir at his church as a child. He also started playing instruments such as drums, harmonica and piano early in his life.
After he released his first album in 1962, Wonder went to Michigan School for the Blind.
Wonder went on to release a series of great hits throughout the 1960s. In the 1970s, Wonder peaked even further with the release of a number of great albums.
His album “Innervations” won three Grammy Awards. It was also named one of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
This success established Wonder as one of the top black male singers of the 70s. Wonder would continue to grace the music scene for decades to come.
Curtis Mayfield was born Curtis Lee Mayfield in Chicago, Illinois in 1942. He began playing guitar at an early age and sang in a few music groups in his childhood and teens.
Mayfield’s group the Impressions released a few hits in the 1950s and went on to sign with ABC Records.
The group would have great success in the 60s. By 1968, Mayfield had formed his own record label.
In 1970, Mayfield embarked on a solo music career. His first album “Curtis” was quite successful. This album and many other successes afterwards made Mayfield one of the top black male singers of the decade.
James Brown – A 70s Singing Sensation
James Brown was born James Joseph Brown Jr in Barnwell, South Carolina in 1933. James Brown sang in talent shows as a child.
In his teens, James Brown was a boxer. But he would later pursue a career in music.
Brown joined a gospel group in 1954. In 1956, Brown’s group would release their first big R&B hit.
In 1958, Brown released a solo single that topped the R&B charts. He then went on to release more music with his singing group before venturing into releasing more solo music in the late 60s.
In the 70s, Brown released a lo of hits that topped the charts and cemented him as a prominent soul singer.
Brown would later experience a decline in his career and retire in the early 2000s. However, he definitely established himself as one of the top black male singers of the 70s.
Conclusion, Top Black Male Singers Of The 70s
The 70s were a great decade for music, especially black music.
More than a few musicians managed to establish themselves as the top black male singers of the 70s in this time.
Their music remains legendary and deserves to still be appreciated.