Real Names of R&B Singers

Naming Names

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If you've ever wondered what Prince's real name is (it's Prince), or why Ginuwine doesn't go by his real name (because it's Elgin Lumpkin, that's why), then check out this list of the real names of some of your favorite R&B and Soul singers. Some of the name changes make sense, like Kenneth Edmonds being known as Babyface, or ultra-buff singer Durrell Babbs going by the stage name of Tank. But others, like Natalie McIntyre changing her name to Macy Gray, might leave you scratching your head. (Macy Gray, by the way, says she adopted her stage name as a tribute to an elderly former neighbor.)

  • Akon - Aliuane Badara Thiam. He's claimed in
    the past that his full name is Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon Thiam, however, this has never been independently verified. (More info about Akon.)
  • Alicia Keys - Alicia Cook. She's said in interviews that she chose the name 'Keys' to represent her piano keys.
  • Angie Stone - Angela Brown. FYI, she was known Angie B. back in the 1980s when she was in the singing group The Sequence. (More about Angie Stone.)
  • Babyface - Kenneth "Kenny" Edmonds.
  • Billy Ocean - Leslie Sebastian Charles.
  • Bobby Valentino (aka Bobby V.) - Robert Wilson. He was born around Valentine's Day, hence the stage name.
  • Chaka Khan - Chaka was born Yvette Marie Stevens, but adopted the first name Chaka during the Black Power Movement in the 1970s. She took the surname Khan after marrying bassist Hassan Khan.
  • Donna Summer - LaDonna Gaines. She adopted her stage name after marrying Helmuth Sommer, an Austrian actor.
  • Dwele - Andwele Gardner.
  • Erykah Badu - Erica Wright. She changed the spelling of her first name as a girl. Badu in Arabic means truth and light. (More about Erykah Badu.)
  • Ginuwine - Elgin Baylor Lumpkin, Jr. He was named after former L.A. Lakers player Elgin Baylor. (More about Ginuwine.)
  • India.Arie - India Arie Simpson. (More about India.Arie.)
  • J. Holiday - Nahum Grymes. It's a biblical name - his mother's an ordained preacher. (More about J. Holiday.)
  • John Legend - John Stephens. (More about John Legend.)
  • Joss Stone - Jocelyn Stoker. (More about Joss Stone.)
  • Kelis - Kelis Rogers. After marrying the rapper Nas (Nasir Jones), she legally changed her name to Kelis Rogers-Jones. (More about Kelis.)
  • Macy Gray - Natalie McIntyre.
  • Maxwell - Gerald Maxwell Rivera. (More about Maxwell.)
  • Marvin Gaye - Marvin Gay Jr, with no 'e' on the end.
  • Ne-Yo - Shaffer Smith.
  • Nokio (of Dru Hill) - Tamir Ruffin. (The real names of all Dru Hill's members.)
  • Omarion - Omari Grandberry. (More about Omarion.)
  • Patti LaBelle - Patricia "Patsy" Holte. She was given the name Patti LaBelle by Blue Note Records when her former group, the Bluebelles (whose name later became Labelle) signed with the label.
  • Prince - Prince Rogers Nelson. He was named after jazz pianist Prince Rogers of the Prince Rogers Trio.
  • R. Kelly - Robert Kelly. (More about R. Kelly.)
  • Raphael Saadiq - Charlie Ray Wiggins. (More about Raphael Saadiq.)
  • Rick James - James Johnson, Jr.
  • Sade Adu - Helen Folasade Adu.
  • Seal - Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel, also known as Sealhenry Olumide Samuel.
  • Sly Stone - Sylvester Stewart. He took his stage name as an alias during the mid-1960s when he was AWOL from the military.
  • Smokey Robinson - William Robinson, Jr. As a kid, he was nicknamed "Smokey Joe" by an uncle because he loved cowboy movies. Eventually, the name evolved to just Smokey.
  • Sisqó (of Dru Hill) - Mark Andrews. (The real names of all Dru Hill's members.)
  • Stevie Wonder - He was born Stevland Judkins, but his last name was legally changed to Morris after he joined Motown Records when he was 12.
  • Tammi Terrell - Thomasina Montgomery. (R.I.P. Tammi.)
  • Tank - Durrell Babbs. (More about Tank.)
  • The-Dream - Terius Nash.
  • Tina Turner - Anna Mae Bullock. She was given her stage name by her one-time husband, singer-musician Ike Turner.
  • Trey Songz - Tremaine Neverson. (More about Trey Songz.)
  • Tweet - Charlene Keys. Tweet was her nickname growing up, long before she used the name professionally. (More about Tweet.)
  • Usher - Usher Raymond IV. (More about Usher.)