Rhythm and Blues

Origin of R&B

R&B originated in African-American communities in the 1940s. The term was created to describe recordings marketed towards African-Americans.

Characteristics of R&B

R&B incorporates electric blues, gospel music, and soul music.

  • Tight rhythm feel
  • Smooth, lush style vocal arrangement
  • Incorporation of instruments like saxophone, drums, guitar, synthesizers

Important Performers

Social Implications

R&B was originally called “race records” This term referred to how the music was marketed to the African-American community. Although this term may seem derogatory, during the 20th century the word “race” was used to refer to African-Americans as a whole. This was more of a term of unity and pride than division amongst whites and blacks.


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