While R&B has been intertwined into popular music seamlessly in recent years, the women who pioneered the genre haven’t received the same recognition as the pop stars who were inspired by them. So who are these Black Women in R&B who paved the way for others while simultaneously having their careers stifled?
Artists like Brandy (aka the vocal bible) and Lauryn Hill (the first black woman to win Best New Artist at the 1999 Grammys) have had their share of fame, but never were allowed to reach A-list fame alongside the likes of Britney Spears or Ariana Grande.
This week we’re looking back at history and discussing the ways in which these R&B singers were put into a box and what we can learn from them to give black artists the recognition they deserve.
If you liked this episode of Name 3 Songs we think you’ll also enjoy these episodes: How African American Women Pioneered Rock Music and Blackfishing, Cultural Appropriation and the Jesy Nelson Situation
Sources for R&B and The Black Women Who Paved the Way Without the Recognition
How Aretha Franklin’s commitment to civil rights and equality changed hearts and minds (NBC News, David A. Love, 2018)
How Aretha Franklin Earned Her Crown As the Queen of Soul (Pitchfork, Jason King, 2018)
The story behind Nina Simone’s protest song, “Mississippi Goddam” (PBS, Liz Fields, 2021)
How Lauryn Hill Educated the Music Industry 20 Years Ago (Time, Brandon Tensley, 2018)
Male Musical Artists Still Dominate the Charts – and the Margin Isn’t Small (Central Sauce, Ben Carter, 2018)
In the new R&B, the future is female. A closer look at artists re-igniting the genre (LA Times, Gerrick D. Kennedy, 2018)
How Modern R&B Revitalized Pop Music (U Discover Music, Da’Shan Smith, 2021)
Brandy on new music, being ‘brave’ and why we’re still obsessed with ‘90s R&B (LA Times, Gerrick D. Kennedy, 2017)
Brandy Isn’t Just Back. She Matters. (Washington Post, Helena Andrews-Dyer, 2020)
Jazmine Sullivan, R&B’s great observer (The Guardian, Alex Macpherson, February 2021)
Jazmine Sullivan On Not Being As Successful As Adele: ‘It’s An Injustice’ (Hello Beautiful, Zon D’Amour, 2016)
Jazmine Sullivan Says ‘It’s an Injustice’ That Black Artists Struggle for Mainstream Success While ‘Soul’ Artists Like Adele Don’t (Atlanta Black Star, Ricky Riley, 2016)
EXCLUSIVE: Jazmine Sullivan Reveals Why She Took a Break from Making Music (Essence, Sylvia Obell, 2020)
Colourism Still Bolsters Anti-Blackness in Pop Culture (Indie Mag, Michelle Kambasha, 2021)
Colourism is still rife in music – DaniLeigh’s Yellow Bone proves it (Metro, Alicia Adejobi, 2021)
Did Jennifer Lopez Really ‘Steal’ Her Hits? No, But It’s the Sexist Story That Sells (PopCrush, 2018)
What’s The Truth Behind Jennifer Lopez’s ‘Feud’ With Ashanti? (The Things, Maurrice Cassidy, 2020)
A Teen Influencer Said She Mistakenly Called Her Cover Of Ashanti’s Hit “Foolish” Her Own Song On TikTok (Buzzfeed News, Tanya Chen, 2020)
Just One Song: ‘1 Thing’ (Mike Diver, Clash, 2014)