Sweet Soul Music: The Book

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Looking for a great book on sweet soul music? Then check out Sweet Soul Music: The Book by Charles Aaron. This book is a must-read for any music lover, and it provides a great history of the genre.


First published in 1986, Sweet Soul Music: The Book by Peter Guernelli is a comprehensive guide to the history and development of sweet soul music. As the title suggests, the focus is on the intersection of soul and pop music that dominated the American charts in the 1960s and 1970s.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part covers the history of soul music, tracing its roots back to the blues and gospel music of the early twentieth century. Guernelli then chronicles the rise of soul as a commercial force in the 1950s and 1960s, with artists such as Ray Charles, James Brown, and Aretha Franklin leading the way.

The second part of the book is devoted to a detailed analysis of sweet soul music itself. Guernelli looks at the various elements that made this style of music so distinctive, including its use of melody, its focus on emotions and personal experience, and its production techniques. He also profiles some of the key artists who helped to define sweet soul music, including Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and Gladys Knight.

With its combination of history and musical analysis, Sweet Soul Music: The Book is an essential resource for anyone interested in this important chapter in American pop music history.

What is sweet soul music?

Sweet soul music is a genre of popular music that emerged in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It combines elements of rhythm and blues, soul, and pop music.

The genre was originally associated with African American performers such as Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, and Aretha Franklin, but it eventually achieved mainstream popularity with artists such as Dionne Warwick and Gladys Knight.

The term “sweet soul music” is often used interchangeably with “soul music” or “classic soul”, but there are important distinctions between the three genres. Soul music is a general term that can refer to any type of popular music with a R&B or gospel influence; it is not limited to a specific time period or geographical region. Classic soul is a subgenre of soul music that refers specifically to the sound of Soul records from the 1960s and early 1970s. Sweet soul music is somewhere in between; it encompasses both the sound of classic soul records and the more pop-oriented sound of contemporary soul artists.

The history of sweet soul music

The term “sweet soul music” was popularized by producer Jerry Wexler in the 1960s, when he used it as a catch-all term for the style of music being made by artists like Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, and Sam Cooke.

Wexler wasn’t the first to use the term – that honor goes to Stax Records producer Isaac Hayes – but he was instrumental in popularizing it, and today it is used to describe a wide range of music from the 1960s and 1970s, including funk, disco, R&B, and pop.

Sweet soul music is characterized by its smooth, mellow sound, often created with string instruments and horns playing along with a funky backbeat. The lyrics are usually about love and relationships, and the overall feel of the music is often described as “warm” or “mellow.”

While sweet soul music is often associated with artists from the South, it was actually created and popularized in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, and Philadelphia. And while many sweet soul artists did come from the South – including Franklin, Redding, Cooke, James Brown, and Stevie Wonder – they all moved to cities in order to further their careers.

The golden age of sweet soul music was the late 1960s and early 1970s, when artists like Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Jackie Wilson, and Smokey Robinson were making some of the most beautiful and influential music of all time. But the genre has continued to evolve over the years, with new artists like D’Angelo , Maxwell , Erykah Badu , Lauryn Hill , Alicia Keys , Amy Winehouse , John Legend , Adele , (?,?) carrying on the tradition of creating soulful sounds with a modern twist.

The influence of sweet soul music

Sweet soul music had a profound influence on the development of popular music, both in the United States and around the world. The smooth, melodic sound of sweet soul music helped to fuel the “disco” craze of the 1970s, and its popularity has continued to endure in the decades since. Today, sweet soul music remains an important part of American culture, and its legacy can be heard in the work of contemporary artists like Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, and Bruno Mars.

The artists who made sweet soul music

The artists who made sweet soul music were a special breed. They came from all walks of life, but they all had one thing in common: they had a passion for music.

Some of the most well-known sweet soul artists include Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Otis Redding, and Aretha Franklin. These artists took the soulful sounds of the African-American church and combined them with the catchy melodies of pop music to create a sound that was both new and exciting.

Sweet soul music was a form of expression for the African-American community during a time when they were fighting for civil rights. The lyrics of these songs often reflected the struggles and triumphs of the African-American experience.

Despite its popularity, sweet soul music was largely overshadowed by the more aggressive sounds of Motown and other traditional forms of black music. However, in recent years, there has been a renewed interest in this forgotten genre, and many of the original sweet soul artists have been rediscovered by new generations of fans.

The legacy of sweet soul music

In the 1960s and 1970s, a new type of soul music emerged from the American South. It was called “sweet soul,” and it combined the sounds of R&B, pop, and gospel to create a sound that was both unique and infectious. Sweet soul music quickly became a mainstay on the radio, and its popularity has only grown in the years since.

The legacy of sweet soul music is twofold. First, it introduced a new generation to the joys of soul music. Second, it inspired many subsequent artists to create their own versions of this genre-bending sound. Today, sweet soul music remains as popular as ever, and its influence can be heard in the work of modern artists like D’Angelo, Maxwell, and Alicia Keys.

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