8 Best R&B and Soul Graduation Songs

Graduates taking picture of themselves
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Graduations can bring out many emotions. Joy, sadness, fear, and ambivalence all come into play when you're preparing to graduate from high school or college. It's a time of happiness when all of your hard work has finally paid off, but that feeling is often accompanied by sadness, knowing that you're moving on and may never see some of your friends and classmates again. These eight R&B and soul songs celebrate the bittersweetness of graduation time.

"End of the Road" - Boyz II Men

"End of the Road" came out more than 20 years ago and spent a whopping 13 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It won two Grammy Awards for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Best R&B Song.

The song's heartfelt, emotional lyrics about a transition in life is something all graduates can relate to. "End of the Road" is the perfect slice of early '90s R&B/soul, and a classic that will endure for years to come.

"I Believe I Can Fly" - R. Kelly

A song titled "I Believe I Can Fly" is practically destined to become inspirational. You may not remember, but this uplifting jewel of a song was written for and appeared on the soundtrack of the 1996 film "Space Jam." It was later included on R. Kelly's album R. and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. It has since become a go-to song used in graduation ceremonies.

"Celebration" - Kool & The Gang

Despite its release, all the way back in 1980, Kool & The Gang's "Celebration" has a timeless quality to it. The feel-good song sums up happy feelings and, to this day, it's still widely used at graduation ceremonies, weddings, sporting events, and other gatherings where a significant, positive event is taking place.

"Miss You" - Aaliyah

"Miss You" was released posthumously in 2002, following Aaliyah's tragic death in 2001. It peaked at No. 1 and No. 3 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and Hot 100, respectively. The sad ballad tells the story of a young woman who's lonely after her boyfriend graduates and goes off to school.

"It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" - Boyz II Men

"It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" originally appeared in the 1975 film "Cooley High." The Boyz II Men version, released in 1991, fared much better, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Similar to "End of the Road," this track epitomizes the bittersweetness of graduating and moving on to a new stage in life.

"Lean On Me" - Bill Withers

This inspirational anthem is a downright classic. "Lean On Me" was Bill Withers' first and only No. 1 single on both the Billboard Hot 100 and soul charts. The song is about perseverance through teamwork and how one can gather strength through the support of others, making it perfectly appropriate for a graduation.

"I'm Coming Out" - Diana Ross

"I'm Coming Out" was a breakaway hit when it was released in 1980. The song peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Pop chart and is almost always included in Diana Ross' performances and concerts. It's been adopted as an unofficial gay pride anthem, but over time the song has been interpreted in numerous ways, including coming into the world.

"Like You'll Never See Me Again" - Alicia Keys

This song, from Alicia Keys' third studio album, As I Am, was released as a single in November 2007. Since then, it's become a favorite at proms and graduation parties, especially by couples who'll be going their separate ways once the school year ends.