Musician Biographies » Aretha Franklin » Success at Atlantic - Atlantic's Offer, Down To Alabama, A Tough Marriage, The First Hits, Off And Running

Success at Atlantic - From Rhythm And Blues To Soul

music aretha southern traditions

Rhythm and blues (R & B) developed during the post–World War II years in America. The “rhythm” came from drumbeats and the electric bass and guitar lines that were the backbone of so many danceable tunes in the 1940s and 1950s. The “blues” of R & B incorporated the vocal traditions of southern blues songs and included gospel traditions as well. In the 1950s, teenagers, in particular, began listening to R & B, which provided them with music they could dance to. Individual performers began to make their mark with louder, jumpier tunes, including Chuck Berry (“Johnny B. Goode”) and Little Richard (“Tutti Frutti”).

Soul music was R & B music of the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was a time of growing pride for many African Americans, as major strides were made during the civil rights movement. Soul music gave voice to that pride and, as with Aretha's music, addressed hard-hitting issues of love, respect, sex, and freedom.

Soul music had different categories. Chicago soul was rooted in gospel, like the work of Aretha and Sam Cooke and vocal groups like the Supremes and the Temptations. Southern soul made stars of Ray Charles and James Brown, combining traditional blues with string orchestras and other unusual arrangements. There were even a few white soul artists, like the British singer Dusty Springfield.

Soul music continued to evolve: funk and fusion music grew from soul, and later hip-hop and even rap found inspiration from the same sources.

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