Soul Music: What People Also Search For

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Discover what other searches are commonly made alongside “soul music” and get a better understanding of the genre as a whole.

What is soul music?

Soul music is a genre of African American music that originated in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It combines elements of rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues. Soul music became popular in the 1960s with artists such as James Brown, Otis Redding, and Aretha Franklin.

Defining features of soul music

Though there is no one agreed-upon definition of soul music, there are certain defining features that tend to be common among soul songs. These features include:
– lyrics that deal with personal or social issues
– a feeling of intensity or urgency
– a strong emotional connection to the music
– a focus on the vocals, often with complex harmonies
– a groove or beat that is easy to dance to

Though these are some common elements of soul music, it is important to remember that not every soul song will have all of these features. And, as with any genre, the definition of soul music is always evolving and changing as new artists come on the scene.

The history of soul music

Soul music is a genre that emerged from the African American community in the United States in the 1950s. It combines elements of rhythm and blues, gospel, and jazz. Soul music became popular in the 1960s with songs like “Respect” by Aretha Franklin and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye. In the 1970s, soul music evolved into disco with hits like “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor and “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge.

Origins of soul music

The music genre of soul had its roots in the African-American community in the United States during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Soul music combines elements of rhythm and blues, gospel, and sometimes jazz. Its distinctive sound came to be defined by artists such as Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, and Diana Ross.

The term “soul” was originally used to describe African-American spirituals and gospel music. It later came to be used to describe a style of popular music that was influenced by these genres. The first use of the term “soul music” is generally attributed to record producer Jerry Wexler in his 1961 article “Southern Music/Negro Music,” which appeared in Billboard magazine.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a number of African-American musicians began experimenting with ways to fuse gospel tunes with R&B grooves. One of the earliest hit songs to emerge from this fusion was Cooke’s “You Send Me” (1957), which topped both the pop and R&B charts. Other early soul hits include Charles’ “What’d I Say” (1959) and Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” (1965).

By the mid-1960s, soul music had become one of the most popular genres of black popular music. In 1967, Aretha Franklin’s recording of Otis Redding’s song “Respect” became an anthem for the Civil Rights movement. During this time period, Funkadelic and The Temptations also released influential soul records.

In the 1970s, soul music continued to be popular with artists such as Wonder, Gaye, Green, Ross, and Donnie Hathaway achieving massive success. In 1971, Cohen wrote an article for Rolling Stone magazine entitled “The Case for Soul Music.” Cohen argued that soul music had more depth and feeling than other genres of black popular music.

During the 1980s and 1990s, soul music experienced a resurgence in popularity with artists such as Luther Vandross, Anita Baker, Whitney Houston,- selling millions of records worldwide.,

The development of soul music

The development of soul music can be traced back to the 1920s and early 1930s with the recordings of artists such as Bo Carter, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Ma Rainey. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that soul music began to gain mainstream popularity with the release of hit songs such as “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and “Good Rockin’ Tonight” by Wynonie Harris. In the 1960s, soul music reached new heights of popularity with the rise of Motown Records and artists such as Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye. The 1970s saw the continued popularity of soul music with the release of classic hits like “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers and “I’ll Take You There” by The Staple Singers. Today, soul music remains a popular genre with artists such as Amy Winehouse, Adele and Bruno Mars carrying on its legacy.

The popularity of soul music

It is no secret that soul music has been one of the most popular genres of music for decades. What is it about soul music that makes it so popular? Is it the catchy rhythms, the soulful lyrics, or the way that it makes you feel? Let’s take a closer look at the popularity of soul music.

The influence of soul music

The National Museum of African American History and Culture describes soul music as “a style of African American popular music that emerged out of the ashes of the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and early 1960s.” Soul music was developed from a combination of gospel, Rhythm and Blues (R&B), and jazz.

The first soul song is generally accepted to be “My Girl” by The Temptations, which was released in 1964. Soul music became increasingly popular during the 1960s, with artists such as Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Diana Ross achieving mainstream success. In the 1970s, soul music began to lose its commercial appeal, but continued to be an important influence on other genres such as funk, disco, and hip hop.

Today, soul music remains an important part of African American culture, with artists such as Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, and John Legend carrying on the tradition. The genre has also influenced a number of non-African American artists, including Adele, Amy Winehouse, Rod Stewart, and Justin Timberlake.

The popularity of soul music today

In the early 2000s, soul music enjoyed a renewed popularity, possibly due to the renewed interest in R&B and hip hop music. neo soul artists such as D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys and India.Arie brought the sound of classic soul music to a new generation of fans. The popularity of classic soul continued to grow in the 2010s, with artists like Adele, Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars and Sam Smith carrying on the sound and tradition of great soul singers like Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder.

The future of soul music

The sound of soul music has been around since the 1950s, but the term “soul” wasn’t used until the late 1960s. By the 1970s, soul music had become a catch-all term for black popular music. In the 1980s, soul music continued to evolve, with artists like Prince and Michael Jackson fusing it with other genres like pop, rock, and funk. In the 1990s and 2000s, soul music underwent a renaissance, thanks to artists like D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, and Lauryn Hill. And now, in the 2010s, soul music is evolving once again.

The direction of soul music

While the sound of soul music has changed over the years, the fundamental elements that make it soulful remain the same. At its core, soul is about emotion, expression and connection. It’s music that comes from the heart and speaks to the heart. And it’s music that brings people together.

In recent years, we’ve seen a resurgence of interest in soul music. Classic soul artists like Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye are being rediscovered by new generations, and their influence can be heard in the work of contemporary artists like D’Angelo, Alicia Keys and John Legend.

As we look to the future of soul music, we can expect to see these trends continue. There will be new interpretations of classic soul sounds, as well as experimental fusion of soul with other genres. But at its essence, soul music will always be about connecting with our emotions and each other.

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