Soul music

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Definition

Soul music developed in the southern states of America and grew in popularity throughout the 1960s. It was a combination of gospel, blues and country music, and its gritty sound reflected what was happening socially in America at that time.

One of the main centres for soul music was in Memphis Tennessee, home of STAX records, where musicians from different ethnic backgrounds joined together to write and record music. At this time, racial segregation was still very much part and parcel of everyday life for Americans and was certainly a barrier to creative collaborations such as writing and recording music. Artists recording with STAX included, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Isaac Hayes, Booker T & the MG’s, Staple Singers to name a few.

In Detroit, Michigan, a style of soul music was also developing. Although it had the same heartfelt emotion and passion in the music, the sound was smoother than their counterparts at STAX. Detroit was the home of Motown Records. Artists who recorded with Motown included the Jackson 5, Diana Ross, Martha Reeves, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson.

Examples


A famous piece of soul music by STAX artist Aretha Franklin.


Sam & Dave perform 'Soul Man'.


Motown legend Martha Reeves & the Vandellas - 'Dancing in the street'.


Marvin Gaye sings 'I heard it through the grapevine'.

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