What Soul?

This genre was popular in the 1960’s. Soul music was the result of the urbanization and commercialization of rhythm and blues in the early 60s. Soul came to describe a number of R&B based music styles. During the first part of the 60s, soul music remained close to its R&B roots. However, musicians pushed the music in different direction since different regions of America produced different kinds of soul. The migration era had an impact on the kinds of music being produced. In urban cities such as New York and Chicago, the music concentrated on vocal interplay and smooth productions. In Detroit, Motown concentrated on creating a pop music that was informed equally by gospel, R&B, and rock & roll. Whereas in the South, the music became harder and tougher, relying on syncopated rhythms, raw vocals, and horns. All of these styles formed soul, which ruled the black music charts throughout the ’60s and also frequently crossed over into the pop charts.


At the end of the ’60s, soul began to evolve when artists like James Brown developed funk, and other artists developed other forms of soul. Soul music informed much of R&B music of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. As R&B began to rise, there were always pockets of musicians around the world that kept performing traditional soul music.

I also learned that soul music was influential during the Civil Rights Movement. It’s interesting how this genre combined the religious and secular styles in both lyrical and instrumental content.


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