Marvin Gaye, one of the greatest soul singers of all time, captivated the world with his smooth vocals, thought-provoking lyrics, and sultry sound. Born in 1939 and leaving a lasting impact on music until his tragic death in 1984, Gaye’s influence can still be felt today.
Here we’ll explore 14 singers like Marvin Gaye. From Al Green to Diana Ross, these artists embody the essence of Motown artistry and have inspired generations of R&B vocalists. So sit back and be ready for some soulful music. Let’s get started.
1. Al Green
Often referred to as the Reverend due to his ordination as a pastor, the Arkansas-born music legend Al Green rose to fame in the same era as Marvin Gaye and has often drawn comparisons for their soulful sounds.
Both are renowned for their distinct voices and contributions to R&B and soul music, thus it is no wonder that fans are intrigued by these icons who dominated the industry in tandem.
Throughout his career, Green contributed numerous memorable tracks to the world of soul music, including “Let’s Stay Together,” “Tired of Being Alone,” and “I’m Still in Love with You.”
2. Stevie Wonder
A true musical genius, Stevie Wonder is often likened to Marvin Gaye for his contributions to soul music and the Motown era. Born Stevland Hardaway Judkins in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1950, he was a child prodigy who would become one of the most legendary singer-songwriters of all time.
Wonder’s incredible talent as a musician and vocalist can be attributed in part to his upbringing by songwriter mom Lula Mae Hardaway and dad Calvin Judkins. His dedication to his craft led him down a path many artists can only dream about—with an astounding collection of 25 Grammy Awards under his belt thus far.
Much like how Gaye created captivating stories through songs that continue to inspire future generations, Wonder paints vivid pictures with lyrics that evoke emotion while exploring themes such as love, loss, hopefulness, social issues, and race relations.
3. Otis Redding
Our next singer, Otis Redding, was an iconic figure in American music history, renowned for his powerful voice and soulful songs. Fans of Marvin Gaye would appreciate Redding’s similarly emotive vocal deliveries and ability to convey raw emotion through songwriting.
As an influential singer-songwriter and performer during the 1960s Southern soul scene, Redding earned his place among the most celebrated artists of all time.
His association with Stax Records played a crucial role in shaping his distinctive sound, blending elements of rhythm and blues with Southern culture to create timeless classics like “Try a Little Tenderness” and “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.”
Despite his untimely death at just 26 years old, Redding left behind a lasting musical legacy that continues to inspire modern artists across various genres.
4. Curtis Mayfield
The Gentle Genius Curtis Mayfield made an indelible mark on the industry with his socially conscious lyrics, guitar playing, and songwriting skills.
One of Mayfield’s most notable traits was his ability to incorporate political themes into his songs while keeping them uplifting. His music brought attention to issues like poverty and racism while inspiring listeners to fight for change.
In the late 1950s, Mayfield formed The Impressions. Some of their notable hits include “Gypsy Woman,” “It’s All Right,” and “People Get Ready,” which became an anthem for the civil rights movement.
Like Marvin Gaye, Mayfield was an influential figure in soul music and shared certain similarities in Gaye’s artistic approach and the message conveyed in his music.
5. Joey Dosik
With a career that started in 2007, Joey Dosik has been involved in the music industry for several years and is known for his soulful music. Although he may not have achieved the same level of mainstream recognition as Marvin Gaye, there are indeed some similarities between the two artists.
Like Gaye, Dosik draws inspiration from classic soul and R&B music. His music often incorporates elements of jazz, funk, and blues, creating a nostalgic sound that resonates with listeners. Songs like “Inside Voice” and “Game Winner” have garnered him attention and acclaim within the soul and R&B music community.
While Dosik’s career may still be developing, his music carries the spirit of the soul and R&B legends who came before him, including the influential Marvin Gaye.
6. Smokey Robinson
Another influential Motown singer like Marvin Gaye is Smokey Robinson. The singer-songwriter carved a distinctive niche for himself through his vital songwriting.
Robinson is often referred to as the King of Motown and is considered one of the iconic figures in popular music. As the lead singer of The Miracles, he contributed to numerous hit songs, including “Shop Around,” “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” and “Tears of a Clown.”
Despite currently in his eighties, Robinson continues to perform and make music, captivating audiences with his timeless sound and enduring talent. His contributions to the music world have been honored with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Gershwin Prize from the Library of Congress.
7. Sam Cooke
The King of Soul Sam Cooke is widely considered one of the pioneers of soul and gospel music, with a voice both silky-smooth and powerful. His influence can be heard in the work of many artists who came after him, including Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, and many more.
Aside from his incredible vocal talents, Cooke was also known for his songwriting abilities. He penned some of his most famous songs, such as “You Send Me” and “Wonderful World.”
Despite tragically passing away at just 33 years old in a controversial incident while touring in California in 1964, Cook’s legacy still lives on today through his timeless classics.
8. Aretha Franklin
Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin was another influential singer like Marvin Gaye who helped shape the sound of Motown and R&B. Born into a musical family in Memphis, Tennessee, she grew up surrounded by some of the greatest singers from Sam Cooke to Jackie Wilson.
Franklin’s impressive repertoire includes hits like “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” and “Natural Woman.” She used her music not only to showcase her incredible voice but also to champion civil rights issues close to her heart.
Despite facing personal struggles such as divorce and health issues throughout her life, Franklin remained an icon in the music industry until she died in 2018. Her four sons all tried their hands at music and were depicted in the biographical film about her life, Respect.
Related: Learn more about Aretha and others in our best soul singers of all time post here.
9. Donny Hathaway
Soul legend Donny Hathaway was a groundbreaking singer-songwriter who emerged from the Chicago music scene in the 1960s. Like Marvin Gaye, he’s best known for his soulful ballads, which fused R&B and jazz to create unique and timeless melodies.
Hathaway began his career as a session musician before eventually branching into solo work. His first album, Everything Is Everything, released in 1970, proved to be an instant classic with hits “The Ghetto” and “Voices Inside (Everything is Everything).”
Sadly, Hathaway struggled with mental health issues throughout his life. In early 1979, he died tragically by suicide at just 33 years old.
10. Teddy Pendergrass
South Carolinian Teddy Pendergrass was a renowned American soul and R&B singer-songwriter. His musical style was heavily influenced by Marvin Gaye, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Curtis Mayfield, and Jackie Wilson.
Pendergrass’s husky voice style made him one of the greatest male soul singers of his time, alongside the legends we have mentioned above. His eponymous album in 1977 achieved Platinum status thanks to the disco sensation “I Don’t Love You Anymore.”
Despite being paralyzed from the waist down following a tragic car accident in 1982, Pendergrass continued producing music that resonated with audiences worldwide until he passed away in 2010 at 59.
11. James Brown
Often referred to as the Godfather of Soul, James Brown was a highly influential American musician and singer-songwriter who played a pivotal role in the development of various music genres, including soul, funk, and R&B.
Brown’s musical career began in the 1950s with his formation of the band The Famous Flames. He achieved widespread success with many classics like “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” “I Got You (I Feel Good),” and so many more. These songs showcased his mastery of rhythm and his ability to create infectious grooves that got people on their feet.
When it comes to similarities between Brown and Marvin Gaye, both artists made significant contributions to soul music. They had a profound impact on the genre, inspiring countless artists who followed in their footsteps.
Related: Check out our list of Taurus singers here.
12. Isaac Hayes
Like Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes is an iconic figure in the soul music industry. He was a singer-songwriter whose deep, baritone voice was well-known in the soul and R&B community.
Hayes gained prominence in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a songwriter and producer for Stax Records. He wrote numerous hit songs for other artists, including “Soul Man” and “Hold On, I’m Comin'” for soul duo Sam & Dave.
He also released several successful albums as a solo artist, with his most notable work being the soundtrack for the 1971 film Shaft. The theme song from Shaft won Hayes an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Though Hayes passed away from a heart attack in 2008, his contributions to music and popular culture continue to be remembered and celebrated.
13. Bill Withers
Alongside greats like Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers was integral to the soul and R&B movement in the 1970s. Despite having a more low-key persona than some of his contemporaries, his music has left a lasting impact on the genre.
Withers started his music career relatively late compared to many other musicians on this list; however, he was just as successful nonetheless. Songs like “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Just the Two of Us,” and “Lean on Me” earned him widespread acclaim and Grammy Awards.
Despite his success, Withers gradually withdrew from the music industry in the mid-1980s, choosing to focus on his family and personal life. Still, his impact on soul and R&B music continues to be felt to this day.
14. Diana Ross
One cannot talk about soul and R&B without mentioning Diana Ross. The legendary singer rose to prominence during the Motown era. She had an iconic partnership with Marvin Gaye, and together, they produced chart-topping singles that have become classic hits.
Ross began her career as part of The Supremes before branching out into a successful solo career. Her voice has an unmistakable quality that makes her one of the most influential artists in R&B music history.
Throughout her career, Ross collaborated with other famous Motown singers such as Mary Wells, Kim Weston, and Tammi Terrell. However, her collaboration with Marvin Gaye on their hit song “You Are Everything” cemented their status as an iconic duo in music history.
Summing Up Our List Of Singers Like Marvin Gaye
If you’re a fan of Marvin Gaye’s smooth and soulful music, this list of 14 singers is worth checking out. From soul legends like Al Green to Diana Ross, there are plenty of talented musicians who share similar vocal styles to him.
In their unique way, each one has made significant contributions to the music industry. Their artistry and talent have captivated audiences, leaving a lasting impact on the world of music.
Whether you are a longtime admirer of Marvin Gaye or simply enjoy the mesmerizing allure of soulful melodies, we you enjoyed our list!