Rhythm and blues (R&B) became popular after World War II and this genre combines strong background beat with soulful singing. Surging employment rates accelerated in urban cities encouraged the rural poor to migrate to urban cities which created and urban black audience. Early band artists broke away and small groups became popular as well as melodic blue style vocals and song structures. Saxophone and piano were prominent until electric guitar and bass added intensity. This genre to this day is very popular since it combines elements of jazz, gospel, and the blues. In its first manifestation, it was strongly influenced by jazz, jump blues and black gospel music.

Contemporary R&B

It was not until the 1980s that the term “R&B” regained ordinary usage. With the transition from soul to R&B in the early to mid-1980s, solo singer Luther Vandross, Prince and Michael Jackson took over, and dominated the music industry throughout the 1980s. Jackson’s Thriller was the best-selling album of all time worldwide. Female R&B singers like Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson gained great popularity during the last half of the decade; and Tina Turner (who was in her 50s) came back with a series of hits with crossover appeal.

By the 2000s, the cross-pollination between R&B and hip hop had increased to the point where the prominent difference between a record being a hip hop record or an R&B record was whether its vocals were rapped or sung. Mainstream modern R&B has a sound based more on rhythm and lacks the hardcore and soulful urban “grinding” feel on which hip-hop relied on. R&B began to focus more on solo artists rather than groups as the 2000s progressed. As of 2005, the most prominent R&B artists included Usher, Beyoncé, and Alicia Keys whose music often blurs the line between contemporary R&B and pop.

This genre is a personal favorite and since it highlights experiences for freedom, happiness as well as triumphs and failures. It also combines different elements from various genres giving you a variety of taste when listening to music.

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