Let’s Get Funky

What in the Funk?

The Funk music genre originated in African American communities in the 1960s. During this time, musicians created a danceable new form of music through a mixture of Soul and Jazz. Musical features of Funk include dynamic bass lines and a sense of rhythmic movement that makes its listeners want to get up and dance. The Funk genre gave the African American community a reason to celebrate their Blackness. 

Characteristics of Funk

Funk is a very danceable genre. Funk puts more emphasis on bass line as opposed to melody. It incorporates a variety of rhythm instruments. It represents an evolution of soul music with greater emphasis on interactive rhythmic layers. In most Funk music, the bass and drums play an important role. Funk music does not have a regular verse and chorus structure. The song usually goes where the music carries it. Funk was the voice of a generation in the 1970s. It expressed the struggles of the working class community, giving them music to share and identify with.

Famous Funk Musicians

James Brown

James Brown set the standard for dramatic live performance in American music. He wanted to perform music that was highly danceable, and could go on for hours on end. His influence on the Black community was incredible. His words alone could spark social unrest, for example the 1968 racial riots. He was more than a musician. He used his talents to speak out against racism, sexism and the need for improved education until his death.

George Clinton

George Clinton revolutionized funk. He is also versed in gospel, dee wop and soul. Clinton is known for, along with James Brown and Sly Stone, as one of the pioneers of funk music. Some of his noteable accomplishments include being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 and he was also part of the bands Parliament and Funkadelic during the 1970s. From 1981, he performed by himself as a solo artist. 


The Funk genre served as a means a unleash the strength and ability of African Americans to create during a time of oppression, racism and social inequality. This genre made African Americans feel like it was acceptable to show the world their talents and be unapologetically Black. With artist such as James Brown and George Clinton, the Black community finally felt a since of artistic liberation. 

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