Definitions

soul-music

soul music

Style of U.S. popular music sung and performed primarily by African American musicians, having its roots in gospel music and rhythm and blues. The term was first used in the 1960s to describe music that combined rhythm and blues, gospel, jazz, and rock music and that was characterized by intensity of feeling and earthiness. In its earliest stages, soul music was found most commonly in the South, but many of the young singers who were to popularize it migrated to cities in the North. The founding of Motown in Detroit, Mich., and Stax-Volt in Memphis, Tenn., did much to encourage the style. Its most popular performers include James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, and Aretha Franklin.

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Soul music is a music genre that combines rhythm and blues and gospel music, originating in the United States . According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of funky, secular testifying. The genre occasionally uses improvisational additions, twirls and auxiliary sounds. Catchy rhythms, stressed by handclaps and plastic body moves, are an important feature. Other characteristics are a call and response between the soloist and the chorus, and an especially tense vocal sound.

Origins

Soul music has some of its roots in gospel music and rhythm and blues.Many consider soul music to be a genre of music created by African Americans in northern United States inner cities, particularly Chicago. Other areas, such as Detroit and Memphis, Tennessee quickly followed and created their own regional soul music style, due to their gospel roots. Some of the elements from Chicago and other parts of the United States, such as the south, brought some raw unpolished funky talent to heavily-populated inner cities, where soul became polished and perfected.

Sam Cooke, Nina Simone, Jackie Wilson, and Etta James were early popular stars of the music genre, and other soul forerunners include: Mahalia Jackson, Louis Jordan, and Big Joe Turner. Some of the earliest soul artists included Ray Charles, who is widely considered to be the inventor of soul music by putting the blues and gospel music together with his groundbreaking hit of 1954, "I Got A Woman". Little Richard, Fats Domino and James Brown, although all were happy to call themselves rock and roll performers at the time. During the 1960s Beatles boom, both Charles and Brown claimed that they had always really been R&B singers. Little Richard proclaimed himself the "king of rockin' and rollin', rhythm and blues soulin'", because his music embodied elements of all three, and because he inspired artists in all three genres. Solomon Burke's early recordings for Atlantic Records codified the soul style, and his early 1960s songs "Cry to Me", "Just Out of Reach" and "Down in the Valley" are considered classics of the genre. Peter Guralnick writes, "it was only with the coming together of Burke and Atlantic Records that you could see anything resembling a movement."

An important center of soul music recording was Florence, Alabama, where the Fame Studios operated. Jimmy Hughes, Percy Sledge and Arthur Alexander recorded at Fame, and Aretha Franklin recorded in the area later in the 1960s. Fame Studios, often referred to as Muscle Shoals (after a town neighboring Florence), enjoyed a close relationship with Stax, and many of the musicians and producers who worked in Memphis contributed to recordings done in Alabama. Another notable Memphis label was Goldwax Records, owned by Quinton Claunch. Goldwax signed O.V. Wright and James Carr, who went on to make several records that are considered essentials of the genre. Carr's "The Dark End of the Street" (written by Chips Moman and Dan Penn) was recorded at two other important Memphis studios, Royal Recording and American Sound Studios, in 1967. American Studios owner Chips Moman produced "The Dark End of the Street", and the musicians were his house band of Reggie Young, Bobby Woods, Tommy Cogbill and Gene Chrisman. Carr also made recordings at Fame Studios, utilizing musicians David Hood, Jimmy Johnson and Roger Hawkins.

Aretha Franklin's 1967 recordings, such as "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)", "Respect" (originally sung by Otis Redding), and "Do Right Woman-Do Right Man", are considered the apogee of the soul music genre, and were among its most commercially successful productions. During the late 1960s, Stax artists such as Eddie Floyd and Johnnie Taylor made significant contributions to soul music. Howard Tate's recordings in the late 1960s for Verve Records, and later for Atlantic (produced by Jerry Ragovoy) are another notable body of work in the soul genre.

Motown Records also contributed to the soul canon, although at the time, the Detroit-based label described itself as a manufacturer of pop music. Music by Motown artists such as Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, and Marvin Gaye did much to popularise the style, and the overall Motown sound did much to define what later became known as northern soul. In Chicago, Curtis Mayfield created the sweet soul sound that later earned him a reputation as the Godfather of northern soul. As a member of The Impressions, Mayfield infused a call and response style of group singing that resembled the gospel style, and influenced many other groups of the era.

By 1968, the soul music movement had begun to splinter, as James Brown and Sly & the Family Stone began to evolve both soul and rhythm and blues into other forms. Guralnick argues that, "More than anything else, though, what seems to me to have brought the era of soul to a grinding, unsettling halt was the death of Martin Luther King in April of 1968."

1970s

Later examples of soul music include recordings by The Staple Singers (such as I'll Take You There), and Al Green's 1970s recordings,done at Willie Mitchell's' Royal Recording in Memphis. Mitchell's Hi Records continued the Stax tradition in that decade, releasing many hits by Green, Ann Peebles, Otis Clay, O.V. Wright and Syl Johnson. Bobby Womack, who recorded with Chips Moman in the late 1960s, continued to produce soul recordings in the 1970s and 1980s.

In Detroit, producer Don Davis worked with Stax artists such as Johnnie Taylor and The Dramatics. Early 1970s recordings by The Detroit Emeralds, such as Do Me Right, are a link between soul and the later disco style. Motown Records artists such as Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson contributed to the evolution of soul music, although their recordings were considered more in a pop music vein than those of Redding, Franklin and Carr. Although stylistically different from classic soul music, recordings by Chicago-based artists such as Jerry Butler and The Chi-Lites are often considered part of the genre.

By the early 1970s, soul music had been influenced by psychedelic rock and other genres. The social and political ferment of the times inspired artists like Gaye and Curtis Mayfield to release album-length statements with hard-hitting social commentary. Artists like James Brown led soul towards funk music, which became typified by 1970s bands like Parliament-Funkadelic and The Meters. More versatile groups like War, the Commodores and Earth, Wind and Fire became popular around this time. During the 1970s, some slick and commercial blue-eyed soul acts like Philadelphia's Hall & Oates and Oakland's Tower of Power achieved mainstream success, as did a new generation of street-corner harmony or city-soul groups like The Delfonics and Howard University's Unifics. By the end of the 1970s, disco and funk were dominating the charts. Philly soul and most other soul genres were dominated by disco-inflected tracks. During this period, groups like The O'Jays and The Spinners continued to turn out hits.

1980s and later

The emergence of hip hop culture in the late 1970s greatly influenced the soul music that followed in the 1980s. With Afrika Bambaata & The Soulsonic Force enjoying huge hits with beat-heavy tracks like "Planet Rock" and "Looking For The Perfect Beat", soul music-makers realised they would have to make their beats bigger, and also find a way of fusing soul and hip hop music. Production teams like James 'Jimmy Jam' Lewis and Terry Harris (former members of The Time), L.A. Reid and Babyface created a harder but also lusher almost epic soul sound, providing endless hits for Janet Jackson, Alexander O'Neal, The SOS Band and Bobby Brown. Writer/producer Teddy Riley and others created something called new jack swing (also known as swingbeat), which fused soul and hip hop. This sound provided hits for acts like Guy, Boyz II Men, Wreckx-n-Effect and Bell Biv DeVoe.

After the decline of disco and funk in the early 1980s, soul music survived for a short time before going through another metamorphosis. With the introduction of influences from electro music and funk, soul music became less raw and more slickly produced, resulting in a newer genre that was called R&B, (often known as ''contemporary R&B), which sounded very different from the original rhythm and blues style.

In early 1980s Chicago, a new dance genre called house was heavily influenced by soul, funk and disco. This was mainly made using synthesizers and other electronic equipment. House and techno rose to mainstream popularity in the late 1980s and remained popular in the 1990s and 2000s. Also starting in the 1980s, soul music from the United Kingdom become popular worldwide, with artists such as Soul II Soul, Loose Ends, Imagination, Mica Paris and Sade. British soul music became very popular in the 2000s too with artists such as Joss Stone, Terri Walker, Beverley Knight, Corrine Bailey Rae, Adele, Duffy, Amy Winehouse and the Brand New Heavies achieving great success.

The United States saw the development of neo-soul around 1994. Mainstream record label marketing support for soul genres cooled in the 2000s due to the industry's re-focus on hip hop.

Soul subgenres

Detroit (Motown) soul

For more details on these topics, see Motown Records and Motown Sound.
Dominated by Berry Gordy's Motown Records empire, Detroit soul is strongly rhythmic, and influenced by gospel music. The Motown Sound often includes hand clapping, a powerful bass line, violins, bells and other untraditional instruments. Motown's house band was The Funk Brothers, and singers included: Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Junior Walker & the All Stars, The Contours, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, The Marvelettes, Mary Wells, The Supremes, The Jackson 5, The Four Tops, Diana Ross, and Stevie Wonder. Songwriters included: Holland-Dozier-Holland, Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong, Smokey Robinson, Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson, Ivy Jo Hunter, Roger Penzabene, and Stevie Wonder.

Deep soul and southern soul

For more details on this topic, see Deep soul and Southern soul
The terms deep soul and southern soul generally refer to a driving, energetic soul style combining R&B's energy with pulsating southern United States gospel music sounds. Memphis, Tennessee label Stax Records nurtured a distinctive sound, which included putting vocals further back in the mix than most contemporary R&B records, using vibrant horn parts in place of background vocals, and a focus on the low end of the frequency spectrum. The vast majority of Stax releases were backed by house bands Booker T and the MGs (with Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, and Al Jackson) and the Memphis Horns (the splinter horn section of the Mar-Keys). The label counted Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, Sam & Dave, Rufus Thomas, William Bell, and Eddie Floyd among its stars.

Memphis soul

Memphis soul is a shimmering, sultry style of soul music produced in the 1960s and 1970s at Stax Records and Hi Records in Memphis, Tennessee. It featured melancholic and melodic horns, organ, bass, and drums, as heard in recordings by Hi's Al Green and Stax's Booker T. & the M.G.'s. The latter group also sometimes played in the harder-edged Southern soul style. The Hi Records house band (Hi Rhythm Section) and producer Willie Mitchell developed a surging soul style heard in the label's 1970s hit recordings. Some Stax recordings fit into this style, but had their own unique sound.

Philadelphia soul

Based primarily in the Philadelphia International record label, Philadelphia soul (AKA Philly Soul) had a lush orchestral sound and doo-wop-inspired vocals. Thom Bell, and Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff are considered the founders of Philadelphia soul, which was dominated by artists such as The Spinners, The Delfonics, The O'Jays, The Stylistics, The Intruders, Patti LaBelle, MFSB, The Three Degrees, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, McFadden & Whitehead and, for a time, The Temptations.

Psychedelic soul

Psychedelic soul was a blend of psychedelic rock and soul music in the late 1960s, which paved the way for the mainstream emergence of funk music a few years later. Principal figures included multicultural band Sly & the Family Stone, Curtis Mayfield, The Fifth Dimension, and (with producer Norman Whitfield) The Temptations and The Undisputed Truth.

Blue-eyed soul

Blue-eyed soul, (also known as white soul) is a term used to describe R&B or soul music performed by white artists. The term doesn't refer to a distinct style of music, and the meaning of blue-eyed soul has evolved over decades. Originally the term was associated with mid-1960s white artists who performed soul and R&B that was similar to the music released by Motown Records and Stax Records. The term continued to be used in the 1970s and 1980s, particularly by the British media to describe a new generation of singers who adopted elements of the Stax and Motown sounds. To a lesser extent, the term has been applied to singers in other music genres that are influenced by soul music. Notable blue-eyed soul artists include Amy Winehouse, Joss Stone, Christina Aguilera, Duffy, Dusty Springfield, George Michael, Hall & Oates, Robin Thicke, Righteous Brothers, Boy George, Big Brooklyn Red, The Action, The Rascals, Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, The Soul Survivors, Bobbie Gentry, Mina, Average White Band and B.J. Thomas

Neo soul

The term neo soul is a marketing phrase coined by producer and record label executive Kedar Massenburg to describe a musical blend of 1970s soul-style vocals and instrumentation with contemporary R&B sounds, hip hop beats and poetic interludes. The style was developed in the early to mid 1990s by artists such as Omar Lye-Fook, Maxwell, D'Angelo and Soul II Soul. Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott and Angie Stone helped popularize the sound.

Other notable performers include Robert Randolph, Rahsaan Patterson, Cody Chesnutt, Jaguar Wright, Eric Benet, Amel Larrieux, Adriana Evans, Raphael Saadiq, Dwele, India.Arie, Lalah Hathaway, Anthony Hamilton, Marlon Saunders, Musiq, Amp Fiddler, Alicia Keys, Joss Stone, Floetry, Vivian Green, Raheem DeVaughn, Leela James, Frank McComb, Goapele, and N'dambi, as well as newcomers Conya Doss, Ledisi, Maysa, Maya Azucena, Andreus, Rachael Bell and Eric Roberson. A key musical element in the Neo Soul artist/producer's arsenal is typically a heavy dose of Fender Rhodes or Wurlitzer electric piano pads over a mellow, grooving interplay between the drums (usually with a rim shot snare sound) and a muted, deep funky bass. The Fender Rhodes piano sound gives the music of this sub-genre a "vintage", warm, organic character, reminiscent of the 1970s-era recordings of Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway, as well as the work of Roy Ayers on his Mystic Voyage and Everybody Loves the Sunshine albums.

Northern soul and modern soul

The phrase northern soul was coined by journalist Dave Godin and popularised in 1970 through his column in Blues and Soul magazine. The term refers to rare soul music that was played by DJs at nightclubs in northern England. The playlists originally consisted of obscure 1960s and early 1970s American soul recordings with an uptempo beat, such as those on Motown Records and more obscure labels such as Okeh Records. Modern soul developed when northern soul DJs began looking in record shops in the United States and United Kingdom for music that was more complex and contemporary. What emerged was a richer sound that was more advanced in terms of Hi-Fi and FM radio technology.

Nu-Jazz and Soulful Electronica

Many artists in various genres of electronic music (such as House, Drum n bass, UK Garage, Downtempo, and others), such as London Elektricity, Landslide, Miguel Migs, Romina Johnson, Jazzanova, Burial, 4hero, King Kooba, J Boogie's Dubtronic Science, Mark Farina, Soulstice, DJ Zinc, Gemma Fox, Squarepusher, Todd Edwards, Grooverider, Fabio, DJ Spooky, Chuck Love, , Jenna G, and Afro-Mystik, are heavily influenced by soul and have produced many soul-inspired compositions.

See also

Audio samples

References

Bibliography

  • Miller, Jim (editor) (1976). The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll. New York: Rolling Stone Press/Random House. ISBN 0-394-73238-3. (Chapter on "Soul," by Guralnick, Peter. pp. 194-197.
  • Escott, Colin. Liner notes for The Essential James Carr. Razor and Tie Records, 1995.

External links

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