A Brief History of Soul Music:
Born of the African American experience, soul music sprang from the blues clubs, churches and street corners of the US, where R&B, gospel and doo-wop rang out in chorus. When those three styles collided, soul’s big bang occurred. Ray Charles and Sam Cooke laid the groundwork, secularising the sanctified with effusive vocal, stirring lyrics and deep rhythmic feeling: Ray with 1954’s I Got A Woman, Sam with 1957’s You Send Me.
Neo-soul was born out of a necessity for the representation of the black alternative. Former Motown Records president William “Kedar” Massenburg coined the phrase in the 1990s as a way to market the merging of contemporary R&B and Soul music, which also incorporated elements of Jazz, Pop, Hip-Hop and Funk, as well as heavy tones of Gospel – much of which often exhibits ‘culturally-conscious’ lyrics.
Neo-soul makes masterpieces out of life’s minutia, where a long walk with Jill Scott or some brown sugar from D’Angelo carries a deeper layer of meaning often overlooked by traditional R&B.
During the mid to late 1990s, Neo Soul revved up with Erykah Badu, Maxwell and Lauren Hill and remained strong as other artists stepped into the limelight. And as the lineup of singers expanded, so did the genre as other elements showed up in Neo Soul such as poetry.
Neo Soul continues to evolve and can be witnessed through a new set of singers. Like many of its predecessors, Neo Soul is a culmination of other genres and would not have existed without the influence that these artists and genres poured into music.
View Neo-Soul artist, Jill Scott, perform at ONE Musicfest below!
A monthly concert series celebrating Contemporary Soul Music