I know what you're thinking. What a controversial topic! It's important to approach this question with sensitivity, as the notion of someone "sounding black" can be subjective and potentially perpetuate stereotypes.
As a black female singer who dabbles in tons of different genres, I know what people mean when they hear a non-black person "sounding black".
It's a type of soulful singing rich with African American heritage and influence, and there's no surprise that this type of soulful vocal performance has influenced the entire world.
The fact of the matter is that there are white singers who are known for their soulful, powerful voices that have drawn comparisons to the vocal styles commonly associated with African-American singers.
Some people like to refer to it as having blue-eyed soul, which is a term that was coined back in the 1960s.
A ton of non-black singers have that soul in their voice, so I won't be able to cover them all, but I want to mention my top favorites that really stand out!
Related Post: What Is Neo Soul Music? + Facts About The Genre
Teena Marie was an American singer-songwriter known for her R&B and soul music. Despite being white, she had a voice that could easily be mistaken for that of an African-American artist, leading to her nickname "Ivory Queen of Soul."
Yebba, whose real name is Abbey Smith, is a singer-songwriter known for her soulful and powerful vocals. Her captivating voice and emotional delivery have garnered comparisons to legendary African-American artists.
Joss Stone is an English singer-songwriter who gained recognition for her soulful and mature voice. Her powerful vocals and delivery have been compared to those of African-American singers, earning her acclaim in the soul and R&B genres.
Jon B, born Jonathan Buck, is an American singer-songwriter known for his smooth R&B vocals. He has been recognized for his soulful delivery and ability to infuse elements of funk and hip-hop into his music.
Janis Joplin, though she primarily performed blues rock and psychedelic rock, had a distinctive vocal style with a raw, powerful delivery that drew influence from African-American blues singers.
Christina Aguilera, though primarily known for her pop music, has a versatile voice with a lot of soulful vocal ornaments and power. Her powerful and soulful performances have been likened to those of African-American singers.
Joe Cocker was an English singer known for his gritty and impassioned vocal performances. His unique voice often drew comparisons to African-American blues and soul singers.
JoJo, whose real name is Joanna Levesque, is an American singer-songwriter known for her powerful vocals and versatile musical style. While primarily recognized for her pop music, JoJo has showcased her soulful voice and R&B influences throughout her career.
Sam Smith is a British singer known for their powerful and soulful voice, often compared to that of African-American singers. They have achieved success in the pop and R&B genres.
Amy Winehouse was an English singer-songwriter known for her deep, emotive voice and her ability to channel the essence of soul and R&B music in her performances.
Bobby Caldwell is an American singer-songwriter known for his smooth vocals and his ability to blend elements of soul, jazz, and R&B. His soulful delivery and heartfelt performances have often led to comparisons with African-American singers.
Tori Kelly is an American singer-songwriter known for her soulful vocals and impressive vocal range. While initially gaining recognition through her acoustic pop sound, Tori has explored various genres, including R&B and soul.
Michael McDonald is an American singer-songwriter who gained prominence as a member of the band The Doobie Brothers. He possesses a distinctive, soulful voice that has led to comparisons with African-American singers.
Adele is an English singer-songwriter renowned for her soulful voice and heartfelt ballads. Her rich vocals have garnered comparisons to African-American soul singers.
Robin Thicke, known for his soulful voice and R&B-infused music, is an American singer-songwriter who has made significant contributions to the genre of blue-eyed soul. His vocals and captivating performances have drawn comparisons to legendary African-American artists.
Snoh Aalegra, born Shahrzad Fooladi, is a Swedish singer-songwriter known for her soulful and sultry vocals. Her music draws inspiration from various genres, including R&B and soul, and she has gained recognition for her captivating performances and emotionally rich songs.
Duffy, whose full name is Aimee Duffy, is a Welsh singer-songwriter known for her soulful voice and retro-inspired sound. Her powerful vocals have earned her recognition and comparisons to African-American artists.
Ariana Grande is an American singer and actress known for her powerful vocals and impressive vocal range. While primarily associated with pop music, Grande has showcased her soulful side through various R&B-infused tracks.
Justin Timberlake is an American singer-songwriter known for his versatile musical style, including pop, R&B, and soul elements. His smooth vocals and charismatic performances have drawn influence from various genres, including soulful sounds.
Jonny Lang is an American blues, gospel, and rock singer known for his powerful vocals and virtuosic guitar skills. His soulful delivery has earned him critical acclaim and comparisons to African-American blues artists.
Jessie J, whose real name is Jessica Cornish, is an English singer-songwriter known for her powerful vocals and soulful performances. Her versatile vocal abilities and R&B influences have led her to create soul-infused pop music.
Marc Rebillet is an American musician known for his unique blend of electronic, soul, and improvisational music. While his style may not strictly fall under traditional blue-eyed soul, Rebillet's soulful vocals and expressive performances have gained recognition for their emotional depth and soulful essence.
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