Jhene Aiko, Bridget Kelly

I’ve been saying since the beginning of 2013 that R&B is coming back this year!  With entertainers like Beyonce, Kelly Rowland, Tamar Braxton, Justin Timberlake and Ciara all ready to put out new albums and get back to that soulful sound, it’s looking like a good year for R&B.

But those artists aren’t the only ones bringing the sound back mainstream.  There are plenty of talented, new singers waiting for their chance to shine and are preparing to leave their mark in music.  I’ve compiled a list of my Top 5 newcomers in R&B that I think you may want to keep on your radar.  Check it out below:


Leah LaBelle

Leah LaBelle – This soulful artist made her debut on season three of American Idol.  She made it into the top 12 on the show before being voted off.  After American Idol, Pharrell Williams discovered her from a You Tube video and introduced her to So So Def founder, Jermaine Durpi.  Both producers, Pharrell and Jermaine Dupri, are currently working with Leah on her debut album which will hopefully be released later this year.  If you watch the Soul Train Awards last year, Leah LaBelle gave a show stopping tribute to the late Teena Marie during the show.  She was perfect for the job because everything about her, her music and her look, reminds me a lot of Teena Marie.  Watch her latest video, “Sexify,” below:




Jhene Aiko

Jhene Aiko – This sultry singer first appeared on the scene in 2002 as an artist under Chris Stokes’ T.U.G. Management at the age of 14.  Her first gig was opening for former boy band, B2K during the Scream 3 Tour.  After a few years, she left T.U.G. Management and became an independent artist.  In 2011, Jhene Aiko released her mixtape Sailing Souls which features Kanye West, Drake and Kendrick Lamar.  Last year, she signed with Def Jam Recordings and is set to drop her first studio album, Souled Out, this year.  Her music has a Erykah Badu meets Sade sound.  Take a listen to her latest track, “Mirrors,” below:




Luke James

Luke James – This R&B singer has been on the scene for awhile now and is making a name for himself.  Last year, he opened for Beyonce for her set of shows at Revel and he’s also performed at the BET Honors, Black Girls Rock and the Soul Train Awards.  In December 2012, he released his mixtape Whispers in the Dark to give us a little taste of what we can expect from his debut studio album, Made to Love, which should be released this year.  He received a Grammy nomination this year for Best R&B performance for his single “I Want You.”  Check out the video below:




Bridget Kelly

Bridget Kelly – I’m sure you’ve already heard of Bridget Kelly.  She’s signed to Jay-Z’s label, Roc Nation.  Jay-Z signed her around the same time he signed J. Cole.  She has toured the country with Jay-Z, filling in for Alicia Keys on their hit “Empire State of Mind.”  She was working on her debut album and thought she finally found her first single, “Thinkin’ Bout You,” which was written by Frank Ocean.  Unfortunately, we know how that ended.  Frank Ocean decided he wanted the song for himself and released it on his own debut album Channel Orange.  Bridget didn’t let that hold her back.  She recently released her single “Special Delivery,” which I absolutely love.  I’m definitely rooting for her to make it!  Hopefully, we’ll get an album from her this year.  Check out the video for “Special Delivery” below:




The Weeknd

The Weeknd – This Canadian born singer is not only a recording artist, but also a producer.  He made his way into the business in late 2010 when he uploaded several videos of himself singing on You Tube.  In 2011, he released three mixtapes: House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence.  Then in 2012, he combined all three mixtapes into one album called Trilogy, added three new songs and released it on iTunes.  Also in 2012, he signed with Republic Records but has yet to release a studio album.  He probably was first brought to your attention from singing the hook on Drake’s song, “Crew Love.”  He’s also on Wiz Khalifa’s new single “Remember Me,” which is in heavy radio rotation right now.  He has been praised by critics as being “the future of R&B” and his vocals have often been compared to Michael Jackson.  Check out the video for his hit song “Wicked Games” below:




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  1. the most anticipated artist has to be Trevor Jackson. He recently released a song on YouTube and its so catchy. It gives off a Neyo and Chris Brown vibe. He is only 16 and i forecast success for him.

  2. the greatest artist has to be the weeknd his song just buzz in your head forever until you listen again then repeat I love his music.

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