Sweet Soul Music
Soul is an American music genre that combines elements of black gospel and rhythm and blues.
After World War II, there was a period of postwar poverty in the US, especially for the lower social spheres, which is where the black population found themselves. From these “lower social classes” came new political and artistic movements as a means of externalizing and expressing feelings of social oppression that the black community was subject to. A music style that goes hand in hand with soul is blues, which came from the slums, poor neighbors, ghettos and US working class families. Both soul and blues could be blended seamlessly by the same artists. We can find many examples throughout history, in artists like Etta James, Janis Joplin, Glenn Hughes etc.
Artists like Sam Cooke, Ray Charles and James Brown are generally regarded as pioneers or at least ambassadors of the genre. Some of the recordings by Solomon Burke in the late 1950s and early 60s in Atlantic Records like “Cry to Me”, among others, gave the style a sort of personality or countenance. Some sources claim that the record “I Got A Woman” (issued in 1954 by Atlantic Records) by Ray Charles is the first soul song in history.
In Memphis, Stax record label (probably the most important soul label in the history of the US) began signing artists such as Otis Redding, Don Covay and Wilson Pickett. Another influential place for recording and creating soul music during the 60s was the southern US city of Florence, located in Alabama. Fame Studios was the most important record company in the area, although of a more emotional, dramatic nature. Here, artists like Percy Sledge, Arthur Alexander and Jimmy Hughes recorded big hits. Big names were followed by even bigger names, such as Aretha Franklin.