R&B’s Mount Rushmore

If R&B music was to create its version of Mount Rushmore, who should be there?!

Mount Rushmore

During the 2014 NBA All-Star game, Miami Heat superstar LeBron James was asked to name the best four players in the history of basketball to create an NBA version of Mount Rushmore.

(First, a quick history lesson. For those unfamiliar, Mount Rushmore is a national memorial located in South Dakota that celebrates arguably the most significant presidents in U.S. History. The presidents represented there are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

Back to business…)

So, that exercise sparked great debate among sports purists to determine just WHO should be deemed among the top four players in basketball history.

As a music lover, I wondered WHAT this would look like if applied to our fair industry. Since it would be next to impossible to do this across the history of ALL   music, we will take this space to explore Music’s Mount Rushmore by genre. First up, let’s construct R&B’s Mount Rushmore!!

A couple of quick guidelines. We will consider artists only in this series. We may cover producers, instrumentalists, and others down the road. So then…here we go with the faces of R&B’s Mount Rushmore.

1. Michael Jackson
Yes, he was known as the King of Pop. But let’s face it, Jackson was DEFINITELY the King of R&B. He was introduced to the world as part of his family group The Jackson 5 in 1964. After achieving incredible success in the group, he went solo, releasing his first project in 1972 titled Got To Be There. But it was his 1983 release Thriller that solidified him as THE King of Pop. With over 65 million albums sold, Thriller is STILL the best selling album of all time. He’s a 13-time Grammy award winner with hits that are as big NOW as they were when first released. But for all of his amazing music, he was the total package. He was the CONSUMMATE performer, blazing the trail for incredible performers such as Beyonce and Justin Timberlake.

Jackson passed away in 2009, leaving a hole in music that can’t be replaced. He’s definitely one of the artists that we would love to bring back. (Here are a few others that we would love to see back with us. http://www.thisblogrules.com/2014/01/music-artists-we-would-love-to-ressurect.html/)

2. Beyonce

So I’m SURE this one will start the critics talking but hear me out on this one. Without question, Beyonce is arguably the biggest pop star in the world and definitely the biggest star in R&B anywhere. If you’re wondering the truth of that, let’s go back to December 2013. On a Thursday night, the music world went to sleep and everything was normal. The next day, the music world was abuzz with the talk of a brand new Beyonce album that was released with no press, no radio single, and no promotion. Beyonce shocked the music world and nearly went platinum in three days!! (Read more about the impact of Beyonce’s latest release here. http://www.bonnerfideradio.com/blog/beyonces-new-rules/ ). From her days with Destiny’s Child to her union with hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, Beyonce, much like Michael Jackson, has a universal appeal that the public can’t get enough of. This 17-time Grammy award winner has taken her music to nearly every corner of the world and has proven to be modern music’s most prolific performer.

3. Whitney Houston

When Oprah Winfrey calls you “The Voice”, then you are “The Voice”. This is how Oprah eloquently and accurately described the one and only Whitney Houston. (Houston tops several lists of the Top 10 Female Voices in Music. http://smashingtops.com/photos/top-10-female-voices-ever/)
With roots deep in the church, Houston’s claim to fame was simply her voice! Powerful, poignant, and authentic, Houston wasn’t flanked by fancy lighting, clever choreography, or auto-tuned mics. Instead, her voice and wholesome personality won over a generation. As the daughter of gospel powerhouse Cissy Houston and niece of R&B legend Dionne Warwick, Houston was one of the most recognizable names in all of pop and R&B music. Her remake of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” took her to worldwide stardom and earned her one of her six Grammy awards. Her 1992 rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at that year’s Super Bowl is still heralded by many as the greatest televised performance of that selection ever.

Even with her passing in 2012, her voice and impact is still felt heavily in pop and urban music, earning her a place on R&B Mount Rushmore.

4. Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder is unquestionably a music icon, living legend, and national treasure. His music career began in 1962 at the tender age of 12, when he was signed by Motown CEO Berry Gordy. He would become a political activist, whose dedication to the love and respect of all people, would make him a household name among all lovers of music. He has released 30 albums and won 22 Grammy Awards. In 1996, he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. And shall we rattle off his hits?! They are WAY too many to mention, but here are a few: “Superstition”, “I Wish”, “My Cherie Amour”, “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life”, “Love’s In Need Of Love Today”, “Part-Time Lover”, and “Overjoyed”. His classic hit “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” became one of the theme songs of the presidential campaign for President Barack Obama. His incredible contributions to R&B music and pop music at large have impacted artists from across all genres, making him worthy of this honor.

And there you have it! What do you think? Did I miss anyone? Would you replace anyone? Let’s begin the conversation! Leave your comments here.

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