Rap, hip hop, R&B, Rock ‘n Roll and even Country. There are successful African-American musicians in every genre of music. Reading through this list you will notice how all of them have been working hard on their careers for their entire lives. Whether you like a particular artist’s music or not shouldn’t matter, as this amount of dedication is something most people should be inspired by. Here is the list of the 10 richest African- American singers.
Richest African-American Musicians – 2018 Update
#10 – Lionel Richie Net Worth $200 million
Lionel Richie is one of the most popular R&B and soul singers of our time. Born and raised in Alabama in 1949, Richie originally had a knack for playing tennis and would attend college under a tennis scholarship. After having a difficult time figuring out what he wanted to do with his life, he went on to form The Commodores, which ended up being a very successful R&B band in the 1960s. With a unique sound and songs written by Richie himself, The Commodores would go on to top musical charts all around the world.
Richie soon started to change his tune and decided to start a solo career where he would sing more romantic ballads. This took Lionel’s popularity to new heights, with offers to collaborate with Michael Jackson and other iconic performers. As time went on he would eventually fade out and while he continued producing albums they weren’t as successful as they once were. These days Richie still performs but he hasn’t made a record since 2012.
#10 – Will Smith Net Worth: $240 million
Will Smith was once the most bankable actor in Hollywood but his career didn’t launch because he was an actor. Born in West Philadelphia in 1968, Smith is the middle child of four other children. After he finished high school he would go on to create a rap group under the name ‘The Fresh Prince’ with his friend DJ Jazzy Jeff. The duo would receive success in the rap category with their humorous songs and even won a Grammy.
Even though his career was going strong, Smith would soon get his assets seized by the IRS and was close to bankruptcy. But his financial troubles would soon end as he got a lead role in the highly praised sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The show would last for six seasons and raised Will’s career to new heights, but Smith wouldn’t become a Hollywood icon until he started his movie career. Will eventually landed roles in blockbusters like Independence Day and I Am Legend, turning this once sitcom actor into a legend himself. By 2010 he had 8 consecutive movies make more than $100 million domestically, something that no other actor has achieved.
These days he is still very well-known but his movies don’t seem to achieve the same level of success they once did. However that may soon change as he has one of the leading roles in the upcoming movie Suicide Squad, starring opposite Jared Leto and Margot Robbie, set to release this August.
#8 – Diana Ross Net Worth: $250 million
Born in 1944, Diana Ross is widely regarded as the most successful female artist of all time. She rose to fame in the early 1960s after her and her three friends started a group called The Supremes and would eventually rename themselves Diana Ross and the Supremes for monetary purposes. Born and raised in Detroit, Ross’ original dream was to become a successful fashion designer. When she was 14 she began taking courses at a technical school for cosmetology and modeling. But a year later she would find herself joining a musical group of female singers called The Primettes, who would later on become The Supremes.
The Supremes would go on to become so famous that their only rivals were none other than The Beatles themselves. Though her group wouldn’t last forever as Diana had decided to depart in 1970 and go on to launch her own solo career, which proved to be the right choice as since her departure she has gone to make dozens of hit records. She has also starred in a few movies and even has performed live on Broadway. Not only has Diana Ross had a very successful career but she also has been a huge inspiration for current female musicians, most notably acts like Christina Aguilera and Taylor Swift.
#7 – Prince Net Worth: $300 million
Most famous for his flamboyant presence, Prince Rogers Nelson was born in 1958 in Minnesota and has been a very prominent figure for pop music since the late 1970s. Named after his father’s stage name, Prince became heavily involved in music at a very young age due both his mothers and fathers musical experience. His father was once the lead singer of a group called The Prince Rogers Trio while his mother was a jazz singer. Prince began playing the piano at the age of 7 where he would write his first song. This is where his musical genius began to mold as Prince is widely known for his multi-instrumental ability.
When Prince was in school he befriended someone named Andre Anderson and the two wound up joining a band called Grand Central. But it wasn’t until Prince was 17 years old that he started to become famous. Writing and performing music that was a mixture of rock, pop, R&B, soul, funk and disco, Prince then got a record deal and went on to make hit after hit with his band he dubbed The Revolution. Though he would eventually depart from his band, Prince still continued to make music on his own, often times releasing records only a few months apart. Believe it or not, Prince continues to make music to this day.
#6 – Master P Net worth: $350 million
Percy Robert Miller, who is well-known by his stage name Master P, is not only a successful rapper but is also a very prominent business man. Born in New Orleans in 1967, Miller and his two brothers would go on to form a rap group called TRU in the early 1990s. They first started seeing success in 1996 when they released the single ‘Mr. Ice Cream Man’. They would go on to sell millions of albums in the late 1990s and continue to see success well into the 2000s.
After dropping out of high school, Miller decided to move to Richmond, Ca. in hopes of making a name for himself. He wound up receiving $10,000 after his grandfather died which allowed him to open up a record store. Though he did make quite a bit of money from selling his own albums, what really made Miller a multi-millionaire was being a music producer and building his own franchise. He would go on to invest his millions into stocks, movies, retail outlets, toy making and even phone sex companies.
#5 – Beyoncé Knowles Net Worth: $450 million
Managed by her father, Beyoncé would join a musical trio in 1990 called Destiny’s Child when she was only 9 years old. They received minimal success until 1996 when they were picked up by a music label. Although it wasn’t until 1999 when their single ‘Say My Name’ was released that they saw worldwide success. Afterwards they would go on to release a few more hits, leading them to become one of the most popular female group singers of all time. The group took a break in 2003 and during their time off Beyoncé would go on to release her debut solo album. They would eventually get back together but in 2005 they decided to call it quits and go their separate ways.
After the split was official, Beyoncé went on to continue her career as a solo music artist. She became hugely popular post-2005 and began releasing some of the most well-known pop songs of the 2000s. Her success lead her to being nominated for more awards than any female music artist in history. She has also had a moderately successful acting career, starring in movies like Dream Girls and Pink Panther.
#4 – Mariah Carey Net Worth: $500 million
Mariah Carey was born in New York in 1970. She is of mixed race which caused people to bully her when she was very young. Because of that and because of her parents’ divorce and her constant moving around, Carey described herself as a very emotional child. This caused her to hide in her room quite often and listen to the radio as a means of escaping reality. In doing so she would grow a fondness for singing and writing poems although it was more of something she kept to herself.
By the time she reached high school she had already become a very well-rounded singer, mastering several octave ranges including the whistle register. She continued to write poems and practiced singing opera music thanks to her mother. After meeting some other music hopefuls in school she decided to release a four song demo tape but was very unsuccessful. It wasn’t until she met the head of Columbia Records (whom she later married) that she got signed and went on to release a full record. To no one’s surprise, Carey’s first four singles reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the album went on to sell more than 15 million copies.
Mariah Carey would go on to become the most successful female singer of the 1990s. She had several hits throughout the decade although between being overworked and going through a messy divorce, Carey suffered an emotional breakdown and took a break from music. She would soon return and release a below average selling album but would rise to the top again in 2005 after she released her album The Emancipation of Mimi. Since then she has had continued success, both in music and in acting when she co-starred in the movie Precious in 2009. She would also join the list of judges in American Idol in 2012 but it only lasted for a season. But that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that Mariah Carey has gone on to become one of the most influential music icons of our generation.
#3 – Jay Z Net Worth: $650 million
Shawn Corey Carter was born in New York in 1969. Early on in his life he would constantly wake up his siblings in the middle night when he was imitating drum patterns. This lead to his mother buying him a boom box for his birthday and his love for music had begun. Growing up he would listen to anything he believed had soul. R&B, pop, jazz, it didn’t matter, so long as the music had feeling behind it. In his neighborhood, Shawn Carter had the nickname “Jazzy” which he would alter to form the stage name “Jay Z”.
Growing up was difficult for Jay Z and his family, as his father abandoned them at a young age. He also lived in a very dangerous neighborhood and has been shot multiple times throughout his life. Nevertheless, Jay Z persevered and would go on to release some of the biggest records of the 2000s and is one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time, selling more than 100 million total records. He has also received more than 20 Grammys, as well as dozens of other awards and nominations. And to top it all off, he has 13 total number one hits on the Billboard Top 100 – more than any other solo artist in history.
Not only is he talented musically but he is also a prominent investor and entrepreneur, owning dozens of businesses around New York and is even a sports agent where he discovers potential professional athletes. But nothing is more impressive than him being married to Beyoncé Knowles. Like damn, can this guy’s life be any more perfect?
#2 – Dr. Dre Net Worth: $700 million
Andre Romelle Young was born in Compton, Calif. in 1965. Music lived in his family as his father had his own amateur R&B singing group called The Romelles. Growing up was very difficult for Andre, as he was constantly changing schools due to poor grades and being involved in gang violence. He would find solace in music and eventually invent his own genre of rap music based on street violence and crude lyrics. Before finding success he would DJ at one of his friends’ night clubs where he would dub himself ‘Dr. Dre’.
Dre would go on to record tracks for records and movie albums. He would quickly become one of the best-selling solo rap artists in the 1990s but his real talent was finding other artists. Dr. Dre has produced albums for many successful rap artists, most famously Eminem. He also discovered Snoop Dogg and produced his first record, which debuted as #1 on the Billboard Top 100 – something no one else has ever done. Other acts include Kendrick Lamar, 50 cent and The Game. For a while he worked with 2pac but it was short lived as 2pac was murdered in a hit and run in 1994.
Unfortunately for fans, Dr. Dre has stated he is no longer making music. Although who can blame him? He has had a very successful life with music and he is even an entrepreneur, creating his own line of headphones called Beats by Dre.
#1 – Sean “P. Diddy” Combs Net Worth: $735 million
He goes by many names. Sean John, Puffy Daddy, Puffy, P. Diddy, Diddy. Whatever he goes by now doesn’t matter as he is worth more than half a billion dollars and has worked his way to become one of the most successful rap artists of this generation. Born in Harlem and raised in Mount Vernon, Sean Combs earned the nickname “Puff” because as a child because he would often get angry and huff and puff around the house.
As a child, Puffs father was the victim of a gang-related shooting where he would shortly die from his wounds. This left a huge scar on his heart considering his family was very close. Growing up he was very talented in the sport of football but music ended up being his true calling. After dropping out of Howard University, P. Diddy went on to intern at a record company where he would soon become talent director and helping out future stars like Mary J. Blige. Afterwards he would go on to start his own record label called Bad Boy Records. Diddy would soon become one of the most successful rap artists of the ‘90s. He produced several records that topped the Billboard Top 100.
Sean Combs is much more than just a music artist. Like most high paid artists, Puff Diddy also went on to become a successful business man. He launched his own clothing brand called Sean John, which has won him several designer awards. It’s no surprise that someone with this much influence over the music and fashion industry would top the charts of the highest paid African-American singers.
And that concludes the list of the richest African-American singers. One thing you probably noticed about all of these artists is how much they’ve struggled with their lives. Even though they are all worldly famous, they weren’t always that way. Some of them had parents die, or they experienced lots of hate and violence growing up. Life had them down but they all persevered through it. That is something I hope you all take away from this article and hopefully you can see their experience as inspiration and apply it to your own daily life.
Who is your favorite African-American artist?
Let me know in the comments below!