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15 Record-Breaking African-American Legends!

Written by Ahshara Colon. Published: February 17 2023


Being legendary isn’t just about what the records say, but it’s also about how one creates change and impact in the world. Here are 15 Black artists who have not only broken records but have become the greatest of all time and built a legacy that will continue to inspire many to come!


1. Marian Anderson

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Marian Anderson was a singer known as the world's greatest contralto. She was the first African-American to perform at the Metropolitan Opera House.


2. Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey wears multiple hats, including but not limited to being the Editor-in-Chief of her own publication, television producer, and talk show host. She holds the record for the “Highest Annual Earnings for a Television Talk Show Host Ever”.


3. Kobe Bryant

The lateKobe Bryant is the youngest NBA player to start a game. He entered the NBA straight out of high school and went on to lead an outstanding career.


4. Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is a basketball player who holds the record for the highest point scoring average in an NBA career and is widely considered the greatest basketball player in history.


5. LeBron James

LeBron James, a.k.a. King James, now holds the record for being the NBA’s all-time scoring leader. This happened after James’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in February!


6. Serena Williams

Serena Williams has led an outstanding tennis career and is the oldest tennis female Grand Slam singles winner.


7. Beyoncé

Queen Bey has created many musical hits that’ll have you singing along no matter who you are, including "Me, Myself and I", "Brown Skin Girl", and "Freakum Dress". As of the 65th Grammy Awards, Beyoncé now holds the record for the most Grammy wins of any artistever


8. Aretha Franklin

The Queen of Soul is most known for her hits such as "I Say a Little Prayer" and "Respect". She is the first female artist to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


9. Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland is an American ballet dancer known for her unique talent and her ability to diversify the field of ballet. In 2015, she became the first African-American prima donna with the American Ballet Theater.


10. Muhammad Ali

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, that’s why they call himMuhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali has broken many records over his outstanding career as a boxer. He holds the title for the Most Lineal World Heavyweight Championship Wins, Most Heavyweight World Recaptures, and many more! 


11. Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat was an American Neo-expressionist artist born in Brooklyn, New York, who showed a talent for drawing from an early age. His painting,Untitled, broke records in 1982 as the highest-selling U.S.-produced piece of artwork.


12. Jimi Hendrix

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jimi Hendrix is widely regarded as the greatest guitar player ever. A self-taught guitarist born in Seattle, his talent is unmatched.


13. Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson, famous for songs like "Billie Jean" and "Smooth Criminal", is a global icon who holds 39 Guiness Records, including, Most Grammy Awards Won In a Single Night By a Male Artist, Best Selling Album, and the Longest Span of U.S. Top 40 Singles.


14. Jay-Z

Jay-Z is a Brooklyn-born American rapper famous for songs like "Empire State of Mind" featuring Alicia Keys and "Run This Town" featuringRihanna. He holds the record for Most Grammy Nominations for a Male Artist as well as the record for the Rapper With The Most U.S. R&B Hits!


15. Quincy Jones

Last but not least, Quincy Jones is an American Record producer, songwriter, composer, and musician… a true multi-talent! He was the first Black person to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song and the first Black musical director and conductor for the show. Fun fact, he produced all 3 of Michael Jackson’s most iconic albums: Off the Wall,Thriller, and Bad.


Of course, the list does not end here! Being the first is never easy and these artists have incited change and paved the way for so many other talented Black artists, creatives, athletes, and more to have a place in society. So remember to keep being legendary and working hard!