Soul music is a genre that blends elements of rhythm and blues, gospel, and jazz, originating within the African American community in the United States. This music first gained popularity in the 1960s and 1970s through the works of artists like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and many others.
A popular genre since its inception, soul music has garnered a dedicated following, becoming one of America’s most significant contributions to global culture. While the term “soul” is frequently used, the genre’s origins can be challenging to pinpoint.
History and Origins
In the late 1960s, Willie Mitchell’s Royal Recording in Memphis became a hub of soul recording activity. Hi-Records followed the Stax tradition, releasing a series of hits by Stax artists. Bobby Womack also recorded during this period and remained active in soul music into the 1980s.
These songs helped the genre reach its peak, with many of these artists now considered legends. In addition to the 1960s era, soul music also influenced rock and roll’s sound in the 1970s.
After the early 1970s, soul music shifted to a slower pace and a more intimate tone, fueled by the emergence of disco and funk, which had crossover appeal.
Characteristics of Soul Music
The vocals are often energetic, full of love, life, and dance.
Additionally, improvisational embellishments, twirls, and other sounds are common in the music. Lyrics may be serious or humorous, but the rhythm of soul music is not mindless.
The rhythm section of soul music is essential. Bass guitar, electric guitar, drums, and Hammond organ are the most common instruments used in soul music.