14. Al Green
April 13th, 1946
Key Tracks "Let's Stay Together," "Love and Happiness," "Tired of Being Alone"
Influenced Prince, the Bee Gees, Justin Timberlake
Al Green's voice sits at the perfect point between romance and sex: "Most black singers go zero to 100, rushing to the big payoff," says Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson of the Roots. "But Al Green is like a soufflÃ© that takes 45 minutes to rise." He was the last dominant singer of the soul era, but he sounded nothing like his predecessors. His pristine falsetto could explode into joy on "Let's Stay Together" or create almost unbearable tension on "Simply Beautiful." Green's vulnerability and suave sexuality were rewarded with 13 Top 10 hits during the early Seventies, and lost none of their impact during his subsequent return to gospel music. "He takes amazing advantage of silence," says Thompson, who produced Lay It Down, Green's most recent album. "Quiet is his strength."