Ohio is the home to many award-winning Black artists and groups that made history and blazed up the musical charts.
From The Isley Brothers to Nancy Wilson, to Bone Thugs-N- Harmony, Ohio has brought has a long list of memorable artists that you may have not known were from the Buckeye State!
1. Avant Cleveland, Ohio
Grammy award-winning R&B singer Avant started singing at the age of 14. He independently dropped one of his biggest hits ‘Separated’ in 1998 and is known for giving us those duets that pull at our heart strings.
2. Nancy Wilson Chillicothe, OhioSource:Getty
Jazz singer and actress Nancy Wilson was born in Chillicothe, Ohio in 1937. She attended high school in Columbus and after winning a talent show on a local television she knew at a young age that she wanted to be a singer. Wilson went on to win several Grammys and various other awards. She passed away in 2018.
(1937 – 2018) performs onstage during Chicagofest, Chicago, Illinois, August 14, 1980. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images) microphone,photography,people,one person,arts culture and entertainment,horizontal,usa,waist up,music,performance,singer,females,african ethnicity,north america,1980-1989,black and white,archival,illinois,chicago – illinois,jazz music,human interest,audio equipment,performing arts event,nancy wilson – jazz singer
3. Bootsy Collins Cincinnati, OhioSource:Radio One Digital
William “Bootsy” Collins was born in Cincinnati Ohio and made his first appearance in the music scene in 1968 as a member of the funk band called “The Pacemaker”. After being a member of several groups, he decided to go solo and established himself as one of the leaders of funk music. In 1997 Collins was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He still resides in Cincinnati.
4. Shad Moss AKA ‘Bow Wow’ Columbus (Reynoldsburg), OhioSource:WENN
Rapper Shad Gregory Moss know as Lil Bow Wow or Bow Wow was born in Columbus, Ohio. He was discovered at the age by Snoop Dogg launching a lengthy rap career. Moss also launched an acting career landing lead rolls in several movies and even went on to become a host of BET’s 106 & Park. Moss has also appeared in several television shows including CSI Cyber and more.
5. Men At Large Cleveland, Ohio
Discovered by Gerald Levert Men at Large was formed in the 90’s by David Tolliver and Jason Champion. Their biggest hit “So Alone’ peaked at #5 on the Billboard R&B charts.
6. The Ohio Players Dayton, OhioSource:Getty
The Ohio Players were a funk band that made several major hits like ‘Love Rollercoaster” that took over in the 1970’s. In 2013, Ohio Players were part of the inaugural class inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame. The band has since had several members but continues to perform.
7. Lakeside Dayton, Ohio
Lakeside created many hits but the biggest one has influenced black culture for over 30 years now! ‘Fantastic Voyage’ can be heard at BBQ’s all over and has been the soundtrack to many soul train lines and a host of many other memories for black families.
8. John Legend Springfield, OhioSource:WENN
John Legend is one of 15 people and the very first black man to win four awards that Hollywood calls an EGOT. An EGOT consists of at least one of the following awards Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony (EGOT). Legend continues to have a career making him one of the biggest names out of Ohio.
9. Bobby Womack Cleveland, OhioSource:Getty
With a career spanning over 60 years, Womack has one of the most recognized voices of true R&B fans with hits like “If You Think You’re Lonely Now”, and “That’s the Way I Feel About Cha,”. In 2009 Womack was inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and went on to win a Grammy in 2011.
10. Dazz Band Cleveland, Ohio
The Grammy Award-winning Dazz Band exploded on the scene in the 80’s and is know for the big hit”Let It Whip” and other’s like “Let it All Blow”.
11. Kid Cudi Cleveland, OhioSource:WENN
Kid Cudi is a Grammy Award Winning rapper with his biggest hit entitled “Day and Nite”. He’s done many musical collaborations along with modeling and fashion designing.
12. LeVert Cleveland, Ohio
LeVert is a group that comes from a legacy of musicians including Gerald Levert, Sean Levert and Marc Gordon. LeVert gave us bit hits like “Baby I’m Ready”, “Coolin”, and “Casanova” making them one of the most popular R&B groups from Cleveland.
13. LA Reid Cincinnati, OhioSource:Radio One Inc.
LA Reid is known for being a major music executive in industry but did you know he was an artist before he became a record executive? Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio Reid got his start with the funk band Pure Essence in the 70s as a drummer. In the 80’s Reid became a member of the group The Deele where he found success on the charts. He is currently still launching the careers of many sucessful label called HitCo.
Reid later went on to work with Babyface and start La Face Records working with artist like Toni Braxton, TLC, Outkast and more. He currently has his own label called Hitco records out of Atlanta.
14. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins Cleveland, Ohio
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins is known for his theatrical performances that made him a pioneer for shock rock. His major hit was “I Put a Spell on You” that he performed many places including the Arsenio Hall Show.
15. The O’Jays Cleveland ohioSource:Getty
The O’Jays were an iconic R&B group with original members Eric Grant, Eddie Levert and Walter Williams. The O’Jays won many awards and were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame (2004), and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, (2005) and the National Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame (2013).
16. The Isley Brother’s CIncinnati, Ohio
The Isley Brother’s started in the 1950’s by a trio of brothers from Cincinnati named O’Kelly Isley Jr., Rudolph Isley and Ronald Isley. The group gave us many hits through the years like “Whos that Lady”, “Groove With You” and more. They’ve won two Grammys and even received A Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys.
17. Men At Large Cleveland, Ohio
18. Tracy Chapman Cleveland, OhioSource:Getty
Tracy Chapman exploded into the music industry in the 80’s with hits like “Fast Car” and “Give Me One Reason”. Chapman is still performing she has continued to live a low key life.
19. Zapp Band/Zapp & Roger Dayton, Ohio
The Zapp Band also known as Zapp & Roger came together in the 70’s comprised of family members frontman Roger, Larry, Lester and Terry—and non-Troutman family members Bobby Glover, Gregory Jackson, Sherman Fleetwood, Jerome Derrickson, Eddie Barber and Jannetta Boyce. They established themselves as a powerhouse funk band with hits like “More Bounce to the Bounce”, “Computer Love”, and more.
20. The Moonglows Cleveland, Ohio
The Moonglows were a big R&B group in the 1950’s consisting of members Harvey Fuqua, Bobby Lester, Danny Coggins and Prentiss Barnes. Their biggest hit “Sincerely” hit #1 on the Billboard R&B charts and they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.
21. Jermain Stewart Columbus, Ohio
Jermain Stewart got his start as a Soul Train dancer but had a big club hit in 1986 called “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off” that charted in the US, UK, and Canada.