Evolution of Funk

What was Funk Music ?

Funk music has a groovy urban dance style sound that was most popular in the ’70s and ’80s. However, it was first created around the early ’60s and was developed from jazz. It was meant to be more modern jazz mixed with soul music, something you would dance to. The African American community created funk, so it no surprise it was a genre influenced by jazz and soul. Since funk music was supposed to be a danceable groovy style, the instruments involved were important. You would hear instruments like the electric guitar, drums, and horns like the saxophone in funk music.

James Brown

James Brown is considered the founder of funk; he brought a unique style to the music industry with his voice, outfits, and stage performances. His style influenced many artists and other musical genres. James Brown started off singing gospel music the R&B. It was in 1964 when he released his album “Out of Sight” is when he said he began to change his sound and style of his music. He had described how, when listening to the songs on the album, you could hear the band play in a different style, using the horns, guitars, and Brown’s voice changing direction with how they usually did things. Brown’s voice was like a cross between shouting and singing, along with hearing robust, loud instruments in his songs. Brown was going for a groovy type of music that would make you want to get up and dance, which he created funk to be. Some of his most famous songs are ‘Get Up Offa That Thing’, ‘Get Up (I Feel Being A) Sex Machine’, and ‘The Payback’.

Other Funk Inspired Artist


Prince is known to be one of the greatest musicians of his generation. Vey popular in the ’80s Prince had an innovative and unique music style, mixing genres like funk, rock, and roll, and pop. He pioneered the funk rock genre with his music having the sound of like rock and roll from his use of instruments like the electric guitar while also having a funk sound. He is known for his hits like ‘When Doves Cry’ and ‘Kiss.’

Earth Wind & Fire

Earth, Wind & Fire is a very well known band from the ’70s. Their music also consisted of mixed genres, such as funk, disco, and R&B. They are considered one of the most innovative bands of all time, changing the sound of black funk and pop. Their music was a more mellow, refreshing, and calm funk sound, rather than loud and super upbeat, like most other funk artists at the time. They are best known for one of their biggest hits, ‘September.’

Rick James

Rick James was a popular artist in the 70’s, with his danceable funk music style, along with a soulful sound. in 1977 Rick James signed to Motown as a solo artist. This is when he blew to stardom, with hits like ‘You And I’ and ‘Mary Jane’. Then his biggest grammy nominated hit ‘Super Freak’. Hits like those gave him the reputation of being ‘The King of Punk-Funk’. 


To conclude, the genre of Funk music was most popular between the 70s-80s. Although James Brown started Funk music in the late 60s, becoming the founder of funk. Many people fell in love with funk’s sound and loved the loud danceable funk music and the more mellow laid back funk music. Artists like James Brown, Prince, Earth Wind & Fire, and Rick James made considerable contributions to Funk music. They each had created their own Funk music style, all having different sounds and even mixing genres in like soul or R&B. Each of these artists and their music continues to inspire many artists today.





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