R&B & Soul Music Photography


In the aftermath of World War II, the combination of traditionally black genres jazz, blues, and gospel—when sanitized for white audiences—emerged as rock ’n’ roll. These same musical influences—filtered through the American black experience in the civil-rights era—resulted in the birth of R&B and Soul music.

Detroit-based Motown Records was a major player in producing refined, pop-oriented Soul like Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, but was also responsible for the socially conscious songs of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Memphis’ Stax Records gave rise to Southern Soul—a raw, gritty, horn-driven sound—with artists like and Isaac Hayes.

By the end of the ’60s, artists like James Brown and Sly Stone were at the forefront of funk—a groove-centered sound with a strong and consistent downbeat—and samples of funk and Soul percussion breaks served as the backbone of hip-hop. The line of evolution from jazz and blues to Soul and R&B to funk and hip-hop reflects the changing times, but all have been significant in recognizing and celebrating black American culture.

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