Rythm and Blues, better known as simply R&B, is a music genre dominated by mainly African-American singers in the early 1940s. Combining elements of soul, pop, rock, and more, R&B has since become a staple in the music industry.
As one of the most popular music genres today, R&B also includes some famous white musicians in the mix of contemporary African-American artists, such as Bruno Mars, Beyonce, and Alicia Keys. We’ve compiled a list of the top white R&B singers you thought were black.
This R&B singer exploded with soul in the seventies when she belted out the lyrics to her songs in deep vocals that were often mistaken for a black artist. Teena Marie fooled her listeners in 1979 when she released the album Wild and Peaceful featuring a duet titled “I’m Just a Sucker For Your Love” with co-singer Rick James.
Listeners were sure the singer was black, and the album cover gave no indication otherwise. However, the soulful singer later made an appearance on the American television show Soul Train, where her identity became known to viewers as a white R&B singer.
Teena Maria has remained a favorite among many listeners worldwide for her hearty, soulful voice.
If you have ever watched Schoolhouse Rock, you would think the artist behind the cartoon voice who sings the song “Bill” is an African-American singer. However, the truth is, this gruff-voiced singer with a lot of heart is very white.
Sheldon is not black, even though his voice has fooled many listeners over the years. He is a white R&B singer who specialized in bebop and jazz songs.
Also an actor, and a trumpet player, Sheldon has won over several fans during his extensive career from the 50s and beyond until he died in 2019 at the soulful age of 88 years young. He is still fondly remembered by his many adorning R&B fans.
When this next singer, Lisa Stansfield’s song “Been Around the World,” first came out in the late 80s, the lyrics were shared over many airwaves and sung by listeners who presumed the singer was an African-American artist.
It wasn’t until her videos began airing on television sets worldwide that viewers realized this talented R&B singer with powerful lungs was white, not black. However, it didn’t matter her color, her fans still loved her style and powerful vocals.
Stansfield’s music made her a female anthem of the 80s who is still successfully performing as a Caucasian solo R&B artist today. She has sold 20 million records worldwide as a talented soul sister who stumped many with her deep and heartfelt vocals.
Born in 1955, Michael Bolton is a successful singer-songwriter who began his career in the rock genre before changing his style to R&B later in his career. A wise decision, Bolton has sold over 75 million albums and topped the music charts with several of his hit songs.
Many listeners thought Michael Bolton was Black when they first heard him sing in the 70s as a rocker in the band Blackjack. However, his career as a white R&B artist reached stardom when he changed his genre to R&B and began to belt his heart and soul out to his listeners worldwide.
Bolton tackled songs sung by Black artists, such as “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” “When a Man Loves a Woman,” and “Georgia on My Mind” by Ray Charles, with the greatest of ease for a white singer. He has also earned 2 Grammy Awards during his successful career as an R&B music artist and is still going strong.
This soulful singer was a prominent R&B artist in the late 70s who helped pave the way for modern performers of R&B for decades to come. Bobby Caldwell is an American musician, songwriter, and vocalist who made a successful career out of several albums from several music genres, including jazz, soul, adult contemporary, and most successfully, R&B.
Known for his versatility in the art of vocals, Caldwell’s hit single “What You Won’t Do For Love” was an instant hit in 1978, earning him bragging rights as a white R&B singer with plenty of soul.
After producing jazz and R&B albums, Caldwell began singing for “Great American Songbook” and songwriting for various artists, including the song “The Next Time I Fall In Love” by Peter Cetera.
Despite a debilitating illness that has substantially limited his ability to get around, Caldwell continues to be a successful R&B singer who still performs at age 70 from his wheelchair today.
This American doo-wop band was formed in the late 1950s and went by the title of “the Brooktones.” Members of this five-person band included Mike Freda, Arnie Silver, Jim Measley, Len Borisoff, and Jerry Gross. Their first song, “No No No,” was an instant hit among locals of Philadelphia.
In the early 60s, the band went on to become the Dovells. This old-school group of soul singers filled the airwaves and dance halls of the 1960s to the beat of their popular R&B jams like “The Bristol Stomp” and “The Jitterbug.”
Their R&B song “You Can’t Sit Down” became a success on the radio before the Invasion of Brittian. It had many listeners who never knew the music group when it was known as the Brooktones fooled into thinking the band members were African-American. However, they were all white singers.
Perhaps one of the most shocking discoveries of white singers is hiding behind the band who sings the song Girl Watcher. The O’Kasions were a popular 6-man band from North Carolina in the late 50s, 60s, and 70s. They were an all-white band, although they sounded black with their rich vocals and heartfelt songs.
The band’s song “Girl Watcher” was released in 1968 and made it all the way to the top 10 of the U.S. music charts earning the band a gold record for selling a million copies in the first year. The song still earns the band members royalties today, even though the band is no longer practicing together.
The O’Kaysion’s played their last show in Myrtle Beach in 2003. Many of the members are now getting up in age. They have since retired after earning recognition for their accomplishments in the world of R&B music in the CBMA’s Hall of Fame.
Although Post Malone started off his career as a rapper with a modern-day “stoner” type of vibe to his music, he is also known for singing R&B songs in which his voice sounds like an African-American singing. However, if you haven’t guessed it already, Malone is indeed a white singer.
If you didn’t know what the singer looked like, you would swear that he was a Black singer by listening to his R&B songs spilling out of him with plenty of rhythm and soul in every word.
The American singer went viral with his song “White Iverson,” and only went up from there. His talent as an R&B artist sky-rocketed in 2015 when he did a collaboration with singer Kane West on the song “Fade.”
His career as a talented R&B singer has continued to grow with many other popular hits topping the music charts, making him one of the greatest best-loved white R&B singers worldwide.
This blue-eyed beauty is the white-souled female singer of several R&B hits that come across as a Black singer if you didn’t know the artist behind them. Born into the world as Christine Elizabeth Clark in 1946, this American R&B singer rocked the 60s with hit songs such as ‘Do Right Baby” and “Love’s Gone Bad.”
Best known for her contributions to the music industry through jazz, soul, and blues, Clark recorded albums for Mowtown Records in the 1960s. She later went on to co-write the 1972 song called “Lady Sings the Blues,” which became a motion picture of the same name played by Diana Ross. This popular R&B song earned Clark a nomination for the Acadamy Awards.
Clark has made a successful name for herself as a white R&B artist through several years of musical accomplishments in her lengthy career as a musician.
The Righteous Brothers
This talented R&B band earned several hours of airplay on radio stations across the globe for their outstanding accomplishments in the world of soul music. Through the group’s unique display of music as white artists in the 60s, at a time when mainly black artists were singing R&B, this talented band managed to woo the entire world with their soulful sounds.
Some radio stations were shocked to learn that the R&B singers were white when they showed up for interviews at the station. They were later nicknamed “blue-eyed soul brothers,” which tipped off the listeners that the band members were white and not Black singers.
The Righteous Brothers most popular hit, titled “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” brought them to instant fame as radio stations across the globe began playing the song non-stop over the airwaves. This began an upward spiral for other white R&B artists to begin coming out of the woodworks.
This much-loved R&B group is still a favorite among many listeners today who enjoy a look back at the nostalgia of one of the best R&B white-membered bands of all time.
Born in 1940 in South Wales, Tom Jones began perfecting his deep, soulful vocal skills in the local church choir. He married at the young age of just sixteen, quit school, and started singing in local pubs to help earn a living for his new family of one son.
In 1964, Jones’s singing career sky-rocketed when he landed a record contract, and there was no stopping him from rising up the success scale of his musical talent as a famous white R&B artist.
His debut song titled “It’s Not Unusual” topped the charts in 1964, bringing Jones to instant global stardom among many listeners as radio stations blasted his songs over the airwaves attracting several adjourning fans.
Other popular songs written by Jones, include “Green, Green Grass,” “Delilah,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” and ”You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” among many other great R&B hits that helped make him famous as one of the best R&B singers of all time.
Born in 1935, this American singer-songwriter was best known for his 1965 hit song entitled “Eve of Destruction.” This catchy R&B song is filled with incredible lyrics, strong soulful vocals, and harmonics has sold over a million copies worldwide and has topped the music charts worldwide.
Other R&B songs by McGuire include “Straight Shooter,” “California Dreaming,” and “Sins of the Family,” which helped lead McGuire reach fame as a white R&B artist among so many talented black artists.
During the 80s, McGuire settled in New Zealand while he took a brief absence from his musical career to enjoy his time with a new wife. He later moved back to the States, where he teamed up with singer-songwriter Terry Talbot for the release of four new R&B albums that were well-received by many listeners worldwide.
From Three Rivers, Texas, this R&B singer rocked the world in the sixties with the sweet sounds of his blue-eyed soul music. Also recording songs in rock and roll and rockabilly, Head had several hit songs, including “Treat Her Right,” “Soul Train,” and “Wigglin’ and Giggling.”
An exciting R&B performer, Head also dabbled in rock and roll songs, country, pop, and soul music. However, he had the most success with his rhythm and blues songs in the 60s, keeping him among the top 40s often throughout the decade.
His twangy voice sounded passionate no matter the genre, accompanied by over-the-top stage performances, including funky dance moves, acrobatic flips, and funky somersaults to keep his fans entertained and screaming out for more.
Head recorded songs until the mid-eighties, when his career began to taper off. His talent in putting his soul into his work earned him success as one of the best white R&B singers of all time, known to be mistaken as a Black singer by several listeners.
Joscelyn Eve Stoker, aka Joss Stone, is a singer-songwriter with a deeply soulful voice that could very easily be mistaken for a Black singer if you listened to her songs on the radio without seeing her appearance.
Stone rose to stardom in the early 2000s with the recording of “The Soul Sessions,” a multi-platinum album earning her a place on the Mercury Price Shortlist in 2004.
Looking for her break as an R&B singer at the age of thirteen, Stone auditioned on the British television show “Star for the Night.” Singing to a mind-blowing cover of “You Make Me Feel” by Black singer Aretha Franklin, Stone wowed the audience and panel of judges with her talent and charisma.
Still in the prime of her career, Stone continues to pour her heart and soul into music, further cementing her place as one of the best white female R&B artists in the world.
Johnathan David Buck, or Jon B as his friends call him, is an American singer, producer, and songwriter. He achieved his rise to fame in the early 90s after writing his Grammy-nominated hit single allied “Someone To Love.” This successful R&B album sold over one million copies worldwide, sending Jon B straight to the top of the music world.
He has since recorded several other R&B songs that have reached top billboard charts. Some of his most popular songs include “Pretty Girl” and “Oh So Sexy. ” Concentrating his musical interests on hip hop and soul, he also co-wrote a hit single “Are You Still Down” with the late great rapper Tupac Shakur.
Over the decades, he has had much success releasing 4 records and earning a platinum certificate for his musical accomplishments. His prominence in the music industry has continued to rise over the years, solidifying him as one of the best white R&B singers of all time.
Best White R&B Singers You Thought Were Black, Final Thoughts
When it comes to good R&B music, it makes no difference if you’re black or white. Our list of the top white R&B singers you thought were black proves that the world is full of talented soulful singers of all colors.
We hope you have enjoyed our list of white R&B singers. Please let us know if you have a favorite R&B singer that is not on our list. We would really love to hear from you in the comments section below.