Origin and Characteristics

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Rhythm and blues also known as R&B is a black dance music that evolved during World War II. It is typically recorded in independent record labels and was associated with demographic, economic, and social changes occurring in America from the 1940s to the 1960s. The term rhythm and blues were used to market all types of secular music recorded by African Americans. The term was used to describe the music genre that incorporated all previous music elements from jazz, blues, gospel and pop. In R&B there was a very diverse sound across major cities, such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. Most of the sound of Los Angeles came from the migrants from Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma where they had a love for southwestern blues and jazz. While in contrast to the blues of the Mississippi delta that took over the blues sounds in Chicago. The sound of Rhythm and blues created a demand for live performances and recordings and Los Angeles became the first place to for the production of Black popular music of R&B. As time went on in the 1940s and 1950s the sound of R&B became popular in after hour clubs were performers in popular trio bands would perform. In the mid 1940s in Cincinnati, Ohio it became popular for production of records. The launching of King Records took place and the recording of R&B expanded. By the 1950s R&B had evolved into a distinct and popular genre of music. In the mid 1950s the sound of R&B had begun to cross many racial boundaries and was being produced and put in jukeboxes, record stores and radio stations. Radio played a big part in the R&B becoming a popular genre, the exposure it gave was regional and international wide. As time went on in the 1960s and mid 70s Motown records was founded in 1959 by Berry Gordy in Detroit. Motown was a record label that became very popular and well known for black artists to produce their sound and craft of music. Along with Motown records there was always Stax records founded in Memphis in 1959. In the 1970s R&B began to fade as disco and funk dominated the sound of black music.

Important Performers

Boys II Men

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Ray Charles

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The Jackson 5

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Social Implications & Commodification

As rhythm and blues emerged is took place during two major events in history, the military drafting and service training act and the Second great migration if African Americans both associated with World War II. Due to the draft the population of males altered which caused the closing of many ballrooms and smaller venues opened. During the second great migration about one million five hundred thousand African Americans migrated from the soul to large industrial cities. They were on a mission to find better economic and educational opportunities. As well as remove themselves from racial oppression and inequalities from the Jim Crow Laws. African Americans had abandoned the life they once knew and found a new life in the city that was challenging, but also rewarding. Many artists found it challenging to find work due to the racial marginalization for them to perform in venues. Additionally, in between the years of 1954 and 55 cover records became known, which was a white artist trying to gentrify the sound of black artist on a R&B record. The aim was to sell it to the white market and make profit off the imitation of black sound. In the new age of music nearing the years of the 1990s there was many new artists that created a hybrid R&B sound that included hip-hop soul elements.

Influences of Future Genres & Conclusory Opinions

R&B is a black popular music produced during two different eras, the 1940s through 1960s and the 1990s through the present. R&B in the first era created and influenced the regional styles of swing bands, blues and gospel music and the second eras created and influenced the rhythms of funk and hip-hop. During the 1940s, 50s and 60s, emerged the performances in juke joints, clubs and bars. The exposure of R&B increased as time with on with records and radio time. As time rolled into the 1990s and now R&B has remained a top genre in popular black music and will remain for time to come.