Let’s Get Funky

Let's Get Funky!: An Introduction to Funk Music

What is Funk?

Funk is considered an urban form of dance music. This genre of music emerged in the 1960s and gained more popularity towards the 1970s. Being that this genre was created by R&B and Jazz musicians, Funk has many elements from a wide range of different musical styles. 

Pioneers of Funk Music

James Brown, known as the “Godfather of Soul”, and Sly and the Family Stone, an interracial, mixed-gender group, were known as pioneers for the funk genre. Brown and Stone are considered revolutionaries who broke the rules and crossed the boundaries of musical style. They reshaped the direction of African American popular music. Both James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone symbolized change being that their music captured the essence of defiance. Many of the themes and lyrics within their music encouraged social and political change and this is why both Brown and Stone played a monumental role in the redefinition of African American Funk music.

  • Syncopated and groove-based music with an emphasis on the down beat
  • Instruments typically include: electric bass, electric guitar, Hammond B-3 organ, synthesizer, and many horn sounds
  • Lyrics are usually glimpses into the experiences and views of African Americans 

Characteristics of Funk

Key Funk Names

  • Earth, Wind, and Fire
  • The Gap Band
  • Cameo 
  • Kool & the Gang 
  • Ohio Players
  • Zapp and Roger
  • James Brown
  • Sly 
  • Prince

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