Modern Soul developed from the Northern Soul scene, when some Northern DJs began looking in record shops of the United States and United Kingdom for something more complex and contemporary. What emerged was a richer sound that was as lyrically and melodically soulful as Northern Soul, but more advanced in terms of Hi-Fi and FM radio technology. Another benefit was that unlike Northern Soul, it offered a steady stream of new releases. Modern Soul records are not necessarily modern at any one point in time; some current Modern Soul favourites are some 30 years old. The records were simply modern when the innovative Northern DJs began to play them.
A large proportion of Modern Soul's original audience members came from the Northern Soul scene, retaining their adoration of underground and rare, independent label soul music. One of the first Modern Soul clubs was Blackpool Mecca, which was fronted by the DJ Ian Levine. He broke from the Northern Soul mould by playing a new release by the Carstairs (It Really Hurts Me Girl) in the early 1970s. Around the same period, Colin Curtis played The Anderson Brothers' I Can See Him Loving You, and another key Modern Soul track emerged: Don Thomas' Come on Train.
The main protagonists of the two soul genres had a falling-out and went their separate ways, with soul clubs generally siding either with Modern or Northern. Modern Soul became a major force, drawing more people towards the music and its venues. Liverpool, the only major northern city of the West-East swathe of England, had remained largely immune from the Northern Soul scene in the 1960s and 1970s, preferring Motown and Funk. The city showed itself to be a more fertile area for the Modern Soul sound.
Despite their initial differences, Northern and Modern Soul remain inextricably linked genres. Some DJs, such as Richard Searling and "Soul Sam" (Martin Barnfather), have championed both the Northern and Modern Soul scenes for several decades. Nowadays, most UK soul venues play music from both genres. A Greg Perry track, could immediately follow a track by The Vibrations, a mix that would not have happened in the 1970s.
Modern Soul has yielded more crossover hits than Northern Soul, and many of the stars of Modern Soul have had lucrative careers, unlike the stars of the Northern scene.