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Ray Charles at a sample of the Grammy Awards in February 1990
Aretha Franklin at the inauguration of US President Barack Obama in 2009
James Brown, 1973 in Hamburg

Soul describes a mainstream of Afro-American light music. It evolved from rhythm and blues and gospel in the late 1950s . In the 1960s, soul was almost synonymous with black pop music . The history of this style is closely linked to the struggle of the US civil rights movement against racial segregation and for equality.

Meaning and characteristics

The term soul music has been defined in a narrower and a broader sense since the 1990s. The narrower refers to the musical performance as it was practiced in the 1960s and 1970s. This consists of a strongly emotional performance of vocal and instrumental solos ( heart and soul 'with whole soul'), emphasis on the vocal part and in dramatic pieces of music with strong contrasts in volume and instrumentation. The development of the 1980s and 1990s called Neo Soul has combined beat loops ( grooves ) as main elements, similar to hip-hop . In a broader sense, soul stands for a whole genre of popular music alongside rock , funk , disco , hip-hop and easy listening .

Examples of the different characteristics of soul compositions are the slow ballad When a Man Loves a Woman by Percy Sledge and the heated, fast Otis Redding piece Respect interpreted by Aretha Franklin . The commercial neo soul stands in the area of ​​tension between jazz with its spontaneity, improvisation and creativity, pop with its commercial listening habits, rock with its hardness and straightforwardness as well as easy listening and chanson with all its melodic and delicacy. Although soul has been pushed into the background by emerging popular offshoots such as funk, disco or hip-hop since the 1970s, it is still considered a main style within popular music and a generic term for black music .

Origin and style

Shaped the foundations of soul with: Jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald in 1940

Soul formed in the mid-1940s in the limelight of popular big bands ( Duke Ellington , Count Basie ) and harmony vocal groups ( The Platters , The Coasters ) through the processing of elements of swing , bebop , blues and gospel in popular and dance music for an audience from the African American population groups in the major cities of the USA , especially New York , Chicago and New Orleans . Attempts by renowned blues interpreters ( John Lee Hooker , T-Bone Walker , Muddy Waters ) and jazz musicians ( Ella Fitzgerald , Lionel Hampton , Dinah Washington ) to increase the commercial success of their publications, but at the same time the typical and original character of their music, were inspiring to obtain. This development led to the emergence of rhythm 'n' blues as a precursor to rock 'n' roll in the early 1950s. While the development to rock 'n' roll ( Chuck Berry , Fats Domino , Little Richard ), elements of country music were also increasingly taken into account and the up-beat tended to predominate in rhythmic terms, the turn to downbeat condensed soul, which can be perceived as an independent genre out.

Martin Luther King on the March to Washington 1963

The soul wave of the 1960s merged already existing tendencies within black music into a powerful, large stream. Musically she picked up the impulses of various gospel- oriented singing groups. The newly emerging soul music combined typical gospel elements such as the emotional intensity of the lecture (so-called shouting ), the song structure based on the call and response principle and the rhythmic clapping of hands that emphasized the beat with the musical energy and the band structure of the rhythm 'n' Blues . Stylistically, the soul marked a clear break with the fast and rhythmic , but without any claim to depth, rhythm 'n' blues popular music, as it had been established since the Second World War . However, the reappropriation of the gospel tradition from the south went hand in hand with secular texts. Instead of the coarseness common in rhythm 'n' blues, soul propagated new values ​​such as fashion and elegance . Last but not least, he also emphasized a different point of view of the relationship between the sexes: While in rhythm 'n' blues the relationship between woman and man was often reduced to the sexual and mutual benefit, a number of soul texts also addressed spiritual aspects such as responsibility and affection . Compared to the rock 'n' roll decade of the fifties, soul often presented an almost realistic and mature picture of gender relations . Although the singers sometimes revealed themselves to their core, the performance remained controlled despite all the temperament and submitted to the dramaturgy of the respective piece.

The success of the new musical genre was closely linked to the successes and setbacks of the civil rights movement . Its significance became manifest through the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, in which around 250,000 people took part. The long-term aim of the civil rights movement's integration of colored people into the white majority society was expressed very directly in the new musical genre. It is not for nothing that the era of the Freedom Rider is considered the heyday of soul , whose moral courage contributed to the abolition of the racial segregation laws. Soul expressed the growing black self-confidence in key songs like Say It Loud - I'm Black And I'm Proud by James Brown (1968) and Respect by Aretha Franklin (1967). Finally, new terms from everyday language such as Soulbrother and Soulsister heralded the importance of music for the new self- image .

Stylistically, two main strands can be made out in the sixties soul. One - the so-called Southern Soul  - offered a rougher, more unvarnished version and is primarily associated with the productions of the two labels Atlantic Records (New York) and Stax (Memphis). The second direction, which was mainly grouped around the Detroit label Motown , favored black light music that was as mainstream as possible and achieved immense success in the white mass market with this at times. A second wave of soul in the early 1970s, triggered by the productions of the Philadelphia International Records label and known under the Philly Sound label , also built on this basic concept.

Although the following styles pushed soul into the background in the 1970s and 1980s, it is still considered the great link between the rock 'n' roll, blues and rhythm 'n' blues of the 1950s and the funk and disco music of the 1970s . Soul was also able to survive the hip-hop wave relatively unscathed. Recycled and reissued over and over again, it is still considered the constant mainstream pop trend in black music .

The soul era

The sixties in particular were musically influenced by soul music. The style developed at the beginning of the decade and developed into an independent black pop music in the following years. In retrospect, the sixties are seen as the classic era of soul music. This section describes the main trends and actors.

From rhythm 'n' blues to soul

Charles Mingus 1976

Soul developed from different tendencies from the mid-1950s. Sam Cooke , Ray Charles and James Brown are commonly considered to be the beginnings of soul; in particular the Ray Charles classic “ What'd I Say ” from 1959 is considered to be one of the main triggers. Elements of soul were also to be found in some black vocal and Doo Wop groups such as the Dominoes , the Drifters and the Platters . The music of some black jazz singers also featured typical gospel elements - such as Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Dinah Washington . The music of some black rock 'n' roll artists such as Fats Domino, LaVern Baker and Ruth Brown also contained strong affinities to gospel .

The changes in black popular music were flanked by a direction coming from avant-garde jazz. Although this only influenced the mainstream of popular music indirectly, it also expressed a need for change. A striking signal was the development towards hard bop : A group of top-class instrumentalists ( Cannonball Adderley , Lou Donaldson , Horace Silver and Charles Mingus ) decided not to follow the development of bebop to cool jazz , which they regarded as artificial, and instead approached the current rhythm'n'blues music. She integrated the funk rhythm as well as the accentuated, rhythmic brass style of the entertainment bands into her music, creating a new jazz style soon to be known as hard bop.

The soul was ultimately triggered by a number of overarching stylistic similarities. These were bundled with a label that had accompanied the development of the rhythm 'n' blues scene since the late forties: Atlantic Records in New York.

Uptown soul

Atlantic Records was founded in 1947 by Ahmet Ertegün , the son of the Turkish ambassador to the USA and the producer Herb Abramson . In 1956 Ertegün's brother Nesuhi joined them. The label's publication policy was decisively influenced by the company's President: Jerry Wexler . Atlantic published a variety of styles: contemporary rhythm'n'blues music as well as traditional down home blues, jazz and pop. With LaVern Baker , Ruth Brown , Clyde McPhatter and Ray Charles , the label had pioneering artists under contract in the late 1950s. Other Atlantic acts included Philadelphia-born Solomon Burke , Dionne Warwick and Bobby Darin .

Solomon Burke, in particular, was able to lastingly fill the gap created by the departure of Ray Charles in 1960. Burke's hit series began in 1961 with "Just Out Of Reach". In the middle of the sixties he experienced the peak of his popularity and wrote a classic of the sixties soul with the piece “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love”. Burke was at times considered the "King of Rock'n'Soul", but was later put in the background by the even more spirited James Brown. Two more newcomers turned out to be further box office hits for Atlantic Records: Wilson Pickett (“In The Midnight Hour”, “Land Of The 1000 Dances”) was also one of the most sought-after soul singers in the mid-sixties. The outstanding star of Atlantic Records, however, was Aretha Franklin , who was signed quite late in 1967. In terms of her career, the daughter of a Baptist minister from Tennessee had already come a long way. However, her expressive singing and her fervor made titles such as “Respect” (1967) into hymns of soul - and her singer into an icon of the movement.

Stylistically, the Atlantic sound was above average, "gospel-heavy". A number of Atlantic recordings were made in collaboration with the company's own studio band around saxophonist King Curtis ; This is why the Atlantic sound is sometimes referred to as uptown soul . However, since the New York company cooperated closely with studios and labels from the south, soul insiders usually subsume the Atlantic sound under Memphis soul or Southern soul.

Memphis Soul: Stax and Muscle Shoals

The Stax building in Memphis, rebuilt for museum purposes

The southern direction of soul was decisively shaped by the Memphis- based label Stax and the Alabama- based Muscle Shoal studios. Dedicated white company bosses who originally came from country and rock'n'roll music and now devoted themselves exclusively to rhythm'n'blues were typical of Southern Soul .

The Stax label in Memphis in particular corresponded strongly to the ideal of "racial integration" . It was founded in 1958 by former bank clerk and country amateur musician Jim Stewart and his sister Estelle Axton . The studio band Booker T. & the MG's, consisting of two blacks and two whites, produced the typical Stax sound . From 1962, the creative focal points of the label were the songwriter and producer Isaac Hayes as well as the singer Otis Redding , who also wrote the original version of the Aretha Franklin world hit "Respect". With hits like "I've Been Loving You Too Long" (1965) and "Sittin 'On The Dock Of The Bay" (1967), the singer, who died in 1967, became the company's most important star. In addition to Redding, successful artists on the label were Joe Tex , Rufus Thomas and Carla Thomas , the duo Sam & Dave , Eddie Floyd and The Staple Singers .

Stylistically, the Stax productions were characterized by a fairly simple, original sound. Typical of the Stax sound was the organ-like use of the wind instruments. The singing was essentially in line with the gospel tradition; Subsequent mixing was usually not done at all. The independent label was able to benefit temporarily from a distribution agreement with Atlantic Records. The relaxed and creative atmosphere of the Stax studios in the sixties also had an inspiring effect on some interpreters of the so-called blue-eyed soul : the records by Elvis Presley , Neil Diamond and Dusty Springfield are repeatedly listed by music critics as outstanding milestones of the respective artists .

Second relevant manufacturing plant of Southern Soul were the Muscle Shoals studio of Rick Hall in Alabama. In addition to recordings by Tommy Roe , Ray Stevens and Atlantic star Wilson Pickett , the Muscle Shoals studios also recorded one of the world's hits in soul music: “When A Man Loves A Woman” by Percy Sledge . Another important Southern Soul label to be mentioned is Goldwax , a company founded by Quinton Claunch . The most important Goldwax artist was James Carr , whose piece "The Dark End Of The Street" from 1967 is also one of the hit parades of the Southern Soul direction.

Detroit or Motown soul

The Supremes , Florence Ballard , Mary Wilson and Diana Ross, (1965), (from left to right)

Unlike Stax and comparable labels, the Detroit- based company Motown Records pushed for commercial success in the pop mainstream from the start. The Motown label was founded in 1959 by the former assembly line worker Berry Gordy . With the producer team Brian Holland , Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland (HDH), Gordy also had first-class songwriters from 1963. Smokey Robinson joined us as an additional writer and producer . Robinson was also the lead singer of the Motown group The Miracles and brought the company a number of hits both with the combo Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and as a writer and producer, including their most famous song "The Tears Of A Clown" from the year 1970. Motown's own sound was staged by the label's own studio band Funk Brothers .

Unlike the colleagues in the Stax studios, who rely on feeling and inspiration, Motown placed great importance on the utmost perfection and a musical smooth finish. Typical for Motown productions were hits that were catchy and whose scheme essentially consisted of a repetition of the key melody and refrain as intensively as possible. The texts of the Motown publications were rather superficial. They were also based primarily on the needs of the white pop market. The Detroit label was at times immensely successful there: In 1966, 75 percent of all Motown singles broke into the top 100 of the US charts . Due to its success - not least due to the Motown sound produced in its own Motown Recording Studios (Detroit) - the company was nicknamed "Hitsville, USA". The fact that the label was the largest media company owned by blacks ultimately ensured recognition in the black community.

Over the years, strings have been used more and more often in the recordings. Gordy also tried to get his artists down in the big club shows in Las Vegas and on Broadway . In the mid-1960s, the Detroit label included the crème of pop-ready soul artists. The counterpoint to the romantic Smokey Robinson was set by the temperamental Temptations . In addition, various singing groups and individual artists were under contract at Motown: Martha Reeves with her band Martha & the Vandellas , the Marvelettes , the gospel-influenced Four Tops , Gladys Knight & the Pips , Marvin Gaye (" I Heard It Through the Grapevine "), the Jackson Five as a rocking soul variant from 1969, Edwin Starr , who later tended towards funk , “Little” Stevie Wonder and the label's most successful troupe: the Supremes with their lead singer Diana Ross .

Other labels and artists

Patti LaBelle 2005

Not all soul artists of the decade between 1960 and 1970 can be assigned to one of the listed labels. The most important of them all gained the reputation of an institution in the sixties: James Brown . Brown had started with an earthy, soul-infused rhythm'n'blues style in the late fifties. His single "Please, Please, Please" from 1956 helped trigger the soul boom. In the sixties, some of his hits became manifestations of the new black self-confidence - in particular the anthem "Say It Loud - I'm Black And I'm Proud" from 1968. Brown's music remained archaic and primitive throughout the period. The singer, also known as “Soulbrother Number One” or “The Hardest Working Man in Showbiz”, was - like Frank Sinatra for white pop music - the idol of black music par excellence and, biographically, formed the bridge between rhythm'n'blues the fifties and the funk of the seventies.

Another important center for soul music was Chicago . Chicago was considered the capital of the blues and was one of the most important centers of black music until the 1970s. The traditional company Chess and Okeh , a sub-label of the media multinational CBS , offered contact points as a label . One of the most important soul musicians from Chicago was Curtis Mayfield . With his band Impressions he had a hit in 1961 ("Gipsy Woman"). In the course of his career he made a name for himself as a singer as well as a songwriter. His pieces “Keep On Pushing” and “We're A Winner” became hymns of the civil rights movement. At the beginning of the seventies, the gentle, religiously motivated artist managed to crossover in the direction of funk with the blaxploitation soundtrack " Superfly ". Neither the two main labels Stax and Motown nor the directions listed so far can be slammed into some other relevant artists. This is especially true of Arkansas- born Al Green . Green did not begin his soul career until the end of the sixties, but in the following decade he almost became a figurehead of soul music. Another artist is the Pennsylvania-born Patti LaBelle , who had made successful records since the late 1950s and created an early hit of the disco era with “Lady Marmalade”. The renowned jazz company Verve should also be listed as a label . The recordings by Howard Tate from 1967 had a particular impact on the style .

A new form of soul finally developed in New Orleans . The music of the multicultural metropolis near the Mississippi estuary has always been more funky, relaxed and exuberant than in the rest of the United States. As a rhythm'n'blues artist, Fats Domino in particular had a role in shaping the style . In the sixties and seventies, the local scene great Allen Toussaint produced some soul acts. The soul “made in New Orleans” was shaped by artists such as Irma Thomas , the Pointer Sisters , Lee Dorsey (“Working in the Coal Mine”) and, since the sixties, the Neville Brothers .

The end of the soul era

After 1968 the fascination for soul music subsided. In particular, the assassination attempt on Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968 and the subsequent uprisings in many major US cities led to disillusionment and resignation. The music stayed; however, the spirit of optimism behind it quickly evaporated. For Southern Soul in particular, the King's assassination was the fatal blow. Stax, already struck by the termination of the distribution agreement by Atlantic Records after the death of Otis Redding in 1967, was increasingly considered "uncool" by black musicians. The company stayed afloat for a few years with studio productions and finally had to file for bankruptcy in the mid-1970s. The parade horse of the pop-oriented soul direction, Motown, also suffered a series of setbacks. The composing team Holland / Dozier / Holland left the label and sued Gordy for withheld royalties . Martha & The Vandellas, Gladys Knight & The Pips, the Jackson Five and the Four Tops also turned their backs on Motown. Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye stayed with the label, but were able to achieve greater artistic independence from the early 1970s.

The predominant influence of soul was not only called into question by the looming failure of the integration efforts. New currents in rock music such as B. Psychedelic also had a transformative effect on black pop music. The new importance of artistic freedom, which was not insignificantly initiated by the civil rights, hippie and 68 movement , which was also documented in the legendary Woodstock Festival in 1969, changed the self-image of numerous soul musicians and singers. Soul music produced notable artists, sub-styles and single recordings again and again in the seventies and the following decades, but the classical phase of this music genre was irrevocably over by the end of the sixties.

Soul music after the soul era

The 1970s, 1980s and 1990s brought a musical diversification into different currents. In the 1970s, funk and disco established themselves as new styles. Hip-hop came along in the 1980s . In addition, the black pop music was further differentiated in the further course by impulses from electronic music ( house , techno ) and jazz ( acid jazz ). There was also a crossover to mainstream pop, which became more and more noticeable, especially from the early nineties. Although the term "soul" has always remained important as a reminiscence of the classical era, it has since been used primarily as a synonym for black pop music. This section gives an overview of the main stages in this development.

Psychedelic soul and funk

The psychedelic direction within rock music made itself felt in many soul productions in the early seventies. Increasingly longer, partly symphony-like pieces with celebrated funk bass, synthesizers, strings and accentuated brass sections moved on a par with the productions of contemporary art rock bands. With “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” (1972) the Temptations succeeded in a showpiece of this direction. Some soundtracks for blaxploitation films such as “ Shaft ” or “Superfly” were produced in a similarly elaborate manner . The latter were recorded by the experienced producers, musicians and songwriters Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield .

Seventies soul star: Stevie Wonder, 2006

Triggered by the developments of the sixties, soul music also became more and more socially critical in the seventies. Edwin Starr made it into the charts with the anti-war song " War " (1970). Unlike in the previous decade, political statements in the 1970s did not necessarily affect careers. Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, in particular, were able to distinguish themselves as demanding solo artists in the early 1970s . Gaye achieved an impressive hit in 1971 with “ What's Going On ” with a heavy, funky ballad sound. Stevie Wonder managed a sustainable crossover in the white pop market. Ever since the publication of “ Superstition ” in 1972, Wonder was considered an artist who effortlessly managed the balancing act between rock, soul, pop and disco music.

Eric Burdon, 2008

The main trend within black music of the seventies was funk. Unlike the soul music of the sixties, which was fixated on gospel refrains and pop song formats, funk celebrated pure rhythm. Characteristic for the new sound were a driving bass, choppy guitar riffs and accented brass sections. The singing basically only fulfilled the role of moderating the performance of the pieces and increasing their effect emotionally. The funk boom was mainly triggered by musicians and instrumentalists from existing groups and studio bands. The first attempts in this direction were made by black formations in the slipstream of psychedelic and progressive rock music. Sly & the Family Stone became famous for the legendary Woodstock Festival in 1969. Another band in this direction were the Californian War , who temporarily dated the British rock veteran Eric Burdon . The style-defining feature of funk, however, was the live sound of James Brown, whose 1970 piece " Sex Machine " co-founded the genre. George Clinton with his bands Parliament and Funkadelic , the Chicago-based Earth, Wind & Fire , the Ohio Players and Kool & the Gang became important bands of funk . Finally, a special lesson in funk was funk jazz, which was developed primarily in the environment of a few Miles Davis musicians such as Herbie Hancock . Finally, funk also shaped the style of the rap and hip-hop music that was emerging in the late 1970s .

Philly sound and disco

Disco singer Gloria Gaynor, 1976
Barry White (1974)

A second wave of pop-oriented soul music started in 1972 from Philadelphia. The avowed Black Muslim Kenny Gamble and his partner Leon Huff founded their company Philadelphia International Records under the auspices of the CBS. As early as 1973, it was the second largest black-run music company in the United States. As with Atlantic Records, Stax and Motown, Philadelphia International Records also had an in-house studio band for the right sound. The trademark of the MFSB band (abbreviated for: Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers) was a perfectly produced, danceable soul variant, which was in many ways similar to that of Motown. The style, soon to be known as Philly Sound, was criticized by critics as an ingratiation to the white mainstream. On the other hand, the company's hit productions, which were released on the assembly line principle, met the listening needs of a prosperous black middle class.

In the first half of the seventies, the label's artists took numerous top spots in the charts. The Three Degrees , Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes as well as their lead singer Teddy Pendergrass and the O 'Jays, which have existed since the late 1950s, were under contract with Gamble and Huff . Well-known hits of the label were " Me and Mrs. Jones " by Billy Paul (1972), "Love Train" by the O'Jays (1971) and "The Love I Lost" by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes (1974). Gloria Gaynor , best known for her cover version of “ Never Can Say Goodbye ” from 1974, successfully built a bridge to the disco wave five years later with the hymn “ I Will Survive ”.

The temporary success of the Philly Sound did not contribute negligibly to the establishment of the disco wave. However, the label itself could only benefit little from this. The connected sound studio Sigma Sound was used by different music greats such as Barbra Streisand and Lou Rawls . By the early 1980s, however, Philadelphia International Records' market share was rapidly falling. The company's concept, which in the long run sounded stereotypical, was exhausted; the centers of soul shifted and finally decentralized. The following styles of funk, disco, house and hip-hop eventually resulted in a generation replacement within black music in the long run.

Soul from the eighties to today

Michael Jackson in 1984

When it comes to black music, the eighties were mostly dominated by hip-hop . Beyond the attention this new direction drew, however, there have always been remarkable recordings by old and new artists. Some of them specifically pushed the crossover into the white pop market. The rise of Tina Turner , Prince and Michael Jackson is particularly noteworthy here . All three managed to establish themselves as greats in the pop business. The music of Turner, Prince and Jackson had only partially to do with soul. At least Tina Turner and Michael Jackson had worked their way up in the classic rhythm'n'blues and soul profession: Tina Turner together with her ex-husband Ike Turner as the singer of the combo Ike & Tina Turner, Michael Jackson as the main singer of the Motown sibling vocal group Jackson Five.

Classical soul music was in a serious crisis in the early eighties. One consequence of hip-hop was the division of black America into two different worlds and value systems. The commercial centers of soul music also shifted. While Chicago, Memphis and Detroit became almost insignificant for soul productions, new studios and labels in New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles provided new supplies for the soul market. The main trend here was the crossover towards pop. The old style name Rhythm'n'Blues was also revived for a short time - this time as a style name for newer, danceable soul variants. However, more general terms such as neo soul or urban soul have proven to have a longer life. Major soul artists of the new, urban-oriented style were Luther Vandross , Freddie Jackson , Shirley Jones , Teena Marie and Anita Baker . But even older soul acts such as Gladys Knight & the Pips, Marvin Gaye and Bobby Womack managed to bring themselves to mind with new productions and pieces during this period of upheaval.

In the new millennium, soul music has decentralized and internationalized. Today, the term “soul” only denotes the classical phase of this musical genre in the sixties. In the current colloquial language, it rather stands for black pop music that somehow comes across as "soulful". The "racial boundaries" are also less important today than they used to be. Although soul is still considered a “black” style of music, it has long been adopted by non-black artists and young performers.

Soul outside of the US

Great Britain and Western Europe

Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay in an appearance in 2005

In Great Britain in particular , the new style was already well received in the 1960s. Cultural ties between the British Isles and the United States have been particularly close since World War II . Great Britain had its own jazz tradition; In addition, the latest rock'n'roll and rhythm'n'blues trends were adapted here at an early stage. The takeover of US styles, however, never happened one-to-one: the adaptation of the soul trend also had a specifically British component from the start. The so-called Blue Eyed Soul turned out to be a special British domain . The first and at the same time best-known artist of this genre was Dusty Springfield (“Son Of A Preacher Man”, 1967), who was born in the London borough of Hampstead . The "White Queen Of Soul" had several hits during the sixties; Her record "Dusty in Memphis", recorded in the United States, is considered legendary. The band Simply Red has also been part of this style of soul since the mid-1980s.

In the 1970s, numerous soul and funk groups were founded on the island. Although they consisted partly or entirely of white band members, they managed to create a sensation musically even beyond the national borders. Examples of British soul acts in the 1970s are the White and White Average White Band , founded in Scotland in 1972 , the White and Black formation Hot Chocolate , which had greater success with the disco wave, and the funk group Heatwave . Among the singers, Billy Ocean deserves a special mention. He was from Trinidad ; his single "Love Really Hurts Without You" reached number 2 on the British charts in 1976. Eddy Grant had already made a name for himself in the sixties as a co-founder of the bubblegum group Equals . In the seventies he started a career as a solo singer and achieved a hit in 1979 with the song "Living On The Frontline". The Soul offshoot also caused a sensation in the British Isles. The 1992 film " The Commitments " depicts the typical milieu of a young Irish soul formation .

In the 1980s, British soul became more exclusive and noble. For the temporary hippness factor, crossings with other styles of music, especially borrowings from disco, house , jazz, funk, reggae , dub and hip-hop , ensured . A special variant of this direction was known for a while under the name Acid Jazz . The crossover between pop, jazz and soul produced a jazzed-up club version of Blue Eyed Soul; the best-known representatives of this direction were Carmel , Sarah Jane Morris and the Nigerian-born Sade . Funk and reggae-oriented music were also played by the two formations Jamiroquai and Level 42 . In the early 1990s, a form that was heavily influenced by percussion and deep bass lines, the so-called clubsoul, became popular in discos. The pioneer was the collective Soul II Soul from London. The Belgian band Vaya Con Dios finally made a name for itself on the mainland during the 1990s, processing the traditional lines of soul, funk, rhythm'n'blues, Sinti jazz , musette and chanson into their own mix.

Northern soul is a phenomenon of its own within soul music . Although the term is occasionally used to denote the music of northern US labels such as Motown, Northern Soul became known in Europe mainly through the soul enthusiasm of young British mods in the 1960s. A characteristic of the small Northern Soul scene, which is still active in many European countries today, is the collection and import of danceable and rare soul music. The scene, which is also represented in Germany, mainly meets at special dance events known as allnighters . Although this subculture had its peak in the sixties, it was reactivated in the 1980s and has had a manageable but steady following to this day.

Soul in Germany

Max Mutzke 2011

The soul wave of the sixties reached Germany in two ways: on the one hand, through members of the armed forces of the United States stationed here , whose musical preferences in the old Federal Republic had an early effect on the music offerings of garrison-based city clubs and discos . Early centers for black music in Germany were mainly Berlin , Frankfurt am Main , Mannheim , Kaiserslautern , Munich and Heidelberg . However, the real soul wave only reached Germany in the slipstream of Anglo-Saxon, especially British, pop music in the sixties. Similar to rock music, however, it took a comparatively long time for an independent soul scene to develop. The modern soul band existing in the GDR had blues and jazz rock in their repertoire in addition to soul. An increased interest in black music only developed in the course of the spread of hip-hop from the beginning of the nineties. Similar to the hip-hop scene in the USA, soul elements were increasingly used from the end of the nineties.

Since the beginning of the new millennium, one can also speak of an independent soul scene in Germany. The performers have often emerged from the hip-hop scene, which has been quite lively since the early 1990s. A black or at least migrant background provides additional authenticity for many artists of German soul . The Frankfurt-based Moses Pelham , formerly a member of the hip-hop group Rödelheim Hartreim Projekt, is at the center of the scene as a producer and musician . Sabrina Setlur , who comes from the Pelham environment , the singer Cassandra Steen , the formation Glashaus and Joy Denalane, who comes from Berlin , are to be performed as soul artists . Mannheim-born Xavier Naidoo in particular achieved lasting success in the pop market . Besides Xavier Naidoo, Max Mutzke in particular caused a sensation, who came eighth in the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest with his title “Can't wait until tonight” . The singer and producer Edo Zanki is often cited as the godfather of German soul. He was one of the first in Germany to combine German lyrics with soul elements and also to produce some of the above. Acts could perpetuate.

The soul scene in Germany has been diverse since the turn of the millennium and can certainly be compared with that in other industrialized countries. A relatively small subculture of Northern Soul fans is now making a name for itself belatedly . Stylistically, “Soul Music made in Germany” is also characterized by a colorful crossover. In addition to classic soul elements, hip-hop as well as funk, jazz and reggae should be listed as musical influences . Ambitious projects such as the funk group Rad and new artists such as Jan Delay or J-Luv stand for the current diversity of black musical styles .

Genres of soul music

Soul music has produced different sub-directions and sub-currents over the years. The following list lists the most important styles and terms:

  • Blue-Eyed Soul : Blue-Eyed Soul is the adaptation of black soul music by white artists. Well-known performers in this direction are Bill Haley , Elvis Presley , The Four Seasons , Boy George , George Michael , Rare Earth and Dusty Springfield .
  • Detroit Soul , Motown Soul, and Northern Soul : This direction was dominated by Berry Gordy's Motown empire. It is often referred to as the "Motown Sound". Detroit Soul is very rhythmic and has gospel influences. Typical are hand claps (short claps of the hands), energetic bass lines and violins, bells and other unusual instruments. Motown's house band were the Funk Brothers . Other artists included: Marvin Gaye , The Temptations , The Jackson Five , Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross & The Supremes . Northern Soul does not refer to any kind of soul that can be distinguished from it, but rather artists and their songs popular with soul enthusiasts in the north of England, who are often identical to the protagonists classified under Detroit or Motown Soul. The Northern England scene has been uninterrupted since the late 1960s and is characterized by a penchant for rare and little-known recordings. Naming a song as Northern Soul does not depend on stylistic features, but on acceptance and popularity in this scene.
  • German Soul : Soul from Germany with German lyrics are made by Xavier Naidoo and Stefan Gwildis . Soul from Germany with English text for example: Pat Fritz and Sarah Connor .
  • Memphis Soul : Memphis Soul was a special direction of the Stax and Hi Records label of the 1960s and 1970s. The sound was mellow, calm and melancholy and contained soft wind instruments, organs and drums. Well-known artists here include Al Green and the band Booker T. & the MG’s .
  • Modern Soul : The term Modern Soul was coined in England . The style of music comes from Northern Soul (Detroit / Motown). In England, modern soul is soul music from the early 1970s to the early 1980s, which is danceable but does not drift into funk.
  • Neo Soul : A mixture of seventies-style vocals with contemporary R&B sound, hip-hop beats and rap interludes. Artists here from the mid-1990s included D'Angelo , Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu . Others joined later, including: Jill Scott , Alicia Keys, and Joss Stone .
  • Philadelphia Soul: Created by the Philadelphia International Label. Its specialty was rich orchestration. Well-known Philly Sound artists include: The Delfonics , The Three Degrees , Gene McFadden and John Whitehead .
  • Psychedelic Soul : Soul experienced an overlay with psychedelic rock in the late sixties , which paved the way for the later establishment of funk. Well-known artists here included: Sly & the Family Stone , The Temptations , The Fifth Dimension and Norman Whitfield .
  • Rhythm'n'Blues : The collective term commonly characterizes the popular music of the American colored people from the end of the Second World War to the end of the 1950s - especially the (black) pre-forms of rock'n'roll. Rhythm'n'Blues was temporarily reissued as a marketing label for a danceable mix of styles of soul, hip-hop, funk and pop during the eighties and early nineties.
  • Southern Soul : This style is driving and energetic. Rhythm'n'Blues is combined here with pulsating southern gospel. The most famous label was Stax . The two house bands of this label were first Booker T. & the MG's and second The Memphis Horns . Other artists: Otis Redding , Wilson Pickett , Rufus Thomas , Sam & Dave , Carla Thomas , William Bell and Eddie Floyd .
  • Uptown Soul : This term is associated with the music of the New York-based label Atlantic Records . However, since many Atlantic artists produced in the south, the direction shows strong similarities with Southern Soul or Memphis Soul and is therefore used comparatively rarely.
  • Brit Soul : British soul music of the late 1980s and 1990s. Representatives were bands like Loose Endes, Soul II Soul and the singer Lisa Stansfield .

Music review: classification of soul

The soul phenomenon was not without controversy among music critics, especially during the sixties and seventies. White, but also black pop authors accused soul of commercializing black music and selling it off to the white mainstream. An example of this is the treatise by the colored music author Nelson George (“The Death of Rhythm'n'Blues”), written from an insider's point of view , which is particularly critical of the black music business. Even white authors - especially those who embraced the society-changing claims within progressive rock music - sometimes expressed themselves in a similar direction: for example, the British disc jockey Nik Cohn , whose mixture of pointed criticism and fascination the attitude of many left-liberal, enlightened white intellectuals documented during the late sixties. Since the nineties, however, the critical accent has increasingly faded into the background and given way to a perspective that emphasizes the merits of soul in the development of African-American pop music. This line of development is presented in detail in the anthology "Chasin 'A Dream".

Finally, there is a third mode of representation brought into play by some jazz authors. When portraying soul, it is mostly limited to those strands of development that are directly related to jazz music. The fact that some jazz authors have adopted the term soul largely or even exclusively for jazz has on the one hand led to a certain irritation when classifying this style. Since this exclusive point of view was never able to gain a foothold in pop history, it is a rather marginal phenomenon and hardly played a role in the historical classification of soul music of the sixties and seventies.


Soul music and soundtracks that consist entirely or in part of soul music are very common in the film. At this point a small selection:

See also


The first two titles deal exclusively with the development of black pop music in the USA. Soul occupies a central position in both titles. The rest of the books listed are general treatises on the development of popular music; however, they also contain more or less detailed text passages on soul music, as well as their labels, artists, sub-styles etc.

Peter Guralnick's book deals with soul without considering Motown.

  • Nelson George: The Death of Rhythm & Blues. Hannibal Verlag, St. Andrä-WIERT (Austria) 1990, ISBN 3-85445-051-6 .
  • Gerald Hündgen (Ed.): Chasin 'A Dream. The music of black America from soul to hip hop. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1989, ISBN 3-462-01951-1 .
  • Stefan Hoffmann, Karsten Tomnitz: Rare Soul. The who's who of the soul era . Ventil Verlag, Mainz 2005, ISBN 3-931555-98-4 .
  • Wolfgang Tilgner : Psalms Pop and Punk. Popular music in the USA. Henschel Verlag, Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-89487-184-9 .
  • Wieland Ziegenrücker, Peter Wicke: Sach-Lexikon Popularmusik. Piper Publishing House. Munich 1989, ISBN 3-492-18223-2 .
  • Tony Palmer : All Your Need Is Love. The great styles of music - from ragtime to rock. Hannibal Verlag, St. Andrä-WIERT (Austria) 1994, ISBN 3-85445-094-X .
  • Robert Palmer: Rock & Roll. The Chronicle of a Cultural Revolution. Hannibal Verlag, St. Andrä-Wölker (Austria) 1997, ISBN 3-85445-140-7 .
  • Nik Cohn : AWopBopaLooBopALopBamBoom. Piper Verlag, Munich 1995 (original edition: 1969), ISBN 3-492-18402-2 .
  • Arnold Shaw: Soul. From the beginnings in the blues to the hits from Memphis and Philadelphia. Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek near Hamburg 1980, ISBN 3-499-17199-6
  • Peter Guralnick : Sweet Soul Music. Bosworth Edition, Berlin 2008, (Original edition: 1999), ISBN 978-3-86543-321-3

Web links

This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on November 12, 2006 .