The late singer first arrived on the scene as a protege of Rick James. Her first album cover even obscured the fact that she was white. But her authentically funky vocals won her a legion of fans, and they didn’t care what color she was.
Hall and Oates
This duo scored hit after hit in 1980s, and while their music videos may be dated now, their classic pop soul sound holds up this day. They might not look the part, but these white boys can wail.
On classics like “Son of a Preacher Man” this English songbird became a soul icon even though she couldn’t have looked less the part.
Acclaimed singer Van Morrison hails from Northern Ireland but his distinct, emotional phrasing comes from the same tradition as Sam Cooke.
“What You Won’t Do For Love” is one of the greatest R&B ballads of the 70s, but few people realize it was sung by this guy.
The Bee Gees
Music fans of all races boogied to the high-pitched harmonizing of the brothers Gibb in the 1970s during the disco craze.
The Doobie Brothers’ frontman’s unmistakable soulful warble has been oft-mimicked and parodied. In his case though, imitation is most sincere form of flattery.
While fronting the Eurythmics in the 1980s, most of the press Lennox got was for her androgynous look but she had a great, traditional R&B voice as well.
This British band fronted by Michael Hucknall (pictured) broke through in 80s with the timeless R&B ballad “Holding Back the Years” and their gorgeous cover of the Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes’ “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”
Although during his 80s heyday, Michael made a point to cultivate a rock n’ roll look — his style of singing was clearly inspired by some of the soul stars that preceded him.
A Babyface protege who started out writing songs for Toni Braxton, After 7, Michael Jackson, and Color Me Badd. His 1995 debut album Bonafide featured the hit ‘Someone To Love” and introduced his dulcet tenor voice to the world.
Unfortunately her off-stage antics detract from her stellar rhythm and blues-inspired singing style. But her vocals are top notch.
Some folks were skeptical that the white son of a sitcom star could be an authentic R&B star — but Robin Thicke proved the doubters wrong and has won serious credibility in the hip-hop genre as well.
This pop star’s dramatic style may not be for everyone’s tastes — but her soulful power of her voice is undeniable.
The Maroon 5 hitman with a Stevie Wonder voice may be a hipster guilty pleasure but he has been whole-heartedly embraced by R&B fans.
She may be young but she has a voice that conveys wisdom far beyond her years — winning her praise from some of the legends she’s inspired by.
“Chasing Pavements” was the 2008 Grammy award winning single from British Soul singer, Adele. Her idols include Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan, and once she opens her mouth, you can easily hear the similarities.
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Blue-eyed soul artists Adele, Robin Thicke, Amy Winehouse and Teena Marie — just to name a few — have mastered the art and soul of black music — helping popularize it.
TheGrio has compiled this list of our favorite “blue-eyed soul” singers. They may be white, but their style honors the rich tradition of African-American popular music.