The 90s was an incredible decade for music, especially RnB.
In the 90s, the new jack swing element was heavy.
However, as the decade progressed, the sound evolved, and many new musicians became prominent.
Among those RnB stars, we had several Black women who eventually became genre legends.
Those are the ones we are spotlighting today.
Her nickname, “The Voice,” was well-earned.
Whitney Houston is not just among the biggest RnB stars of the 90s; and among the most prominent musicians of all time.
The songstress graced us with hit songs like “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” “I Will Always Love You,” and “All The Man That I Need.”
In fact, “I Will Always Love You” was such a hit that it still holds the record as the highest-selling physical record from a woman.
Her career started in the 80s, and her success continued well into the 2000s.
Whitney Houston is undoubtedly one of the primary inspirations for this generation’s RnB stars.
Mary J. Blige
Like her moniker suggests, the “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” perfectly fused hip hop and RnB.
With hits like “Not Gon’ Cry” and “Real Love,” most people who love RnB understand her impact on the genre.
After all, she helped make it mainstream thanks to her debut album “What’s the 411?”
The album seamlessly blended swing, soul, hip hop, and her own powerful vocals.
It also helps that most of her songs feel personal to many people.
Aaliyah’s career might have been cut tragically short, but she did plenty in that time.
The singer started releasing mammoth hits when she was still a teenager, like “One in a Million” and “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number.”
Her song, “Try Again,” also became the first song to top the Billboard Hot 100 purely from airplay.
With over 70 million records sold and 7 Grammy Awards won, Toni Braxton is an undeniable success and one of the premier voices of the 90s.
And with hit singles like “Breathe Again” and “Un-Break My Heart,” it’s no wonder she achieved such massive success.
Braxton released several more albums in the following decades, including a sumptuous collaboration with Babyface, “Love, Marriage & Divorce.”
Her husky, elegant voice has always been a pleasure to the ears, and her albums are worth listening to.
Lauryn Hill achieved mainstream success with the impeccable Fugees.
Then she released her solo album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.”
This album, her only solo full-length studio album to date, is genius.
It is empowering, soulful, heartfelt, and everything you’d hope to find in an RnB album.
The neo-soul aspects also make this one of the most influential albums of the genre.
“The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” is among the most critically acclaimed albums of all time, and it deserves all its accolades.
The “Queen of Neo-Soul” has never been one to focus on a single genre.
Her music encompasses RnB, hip hop, jazz, and even soul music.
And her voice has drawn many comparisons to Billie Holiday.
This blend makes her music so distinct and is why she is among the pioneers of neo-soul.
Brandy’s rise to fame was meteoric from backup vocalist to international superstar.
Her distinct voice, called the “Vocal Bible,” significantly contributed to her success.
Brandy’s self-titled debut album was also a major hit, selling over 6 million copies thanks to hits like “I Wanna Be Down” and “Brokenhearted.”
You can’t have Brandy without Monica.
The two RnB stars were hits in the 90s.
Their duet, “The Boy is Mine,” remains one of the biggest hits in both singers’ careers.
Monica did well enough on her own, releasing songs like “For You I Will” and “Before You Walk Out of my Life.”
Influential 90s RnB Stars: Conclusion
There are many more Black women RnB stars in the 90s who made it big, but these are the ones we feel had the most significant impacts on future generations.
They set new standards, forged new ground, and took RnB to the mainstream.
We would not have the likes of Rihanna and H.E.R. without their influence.