Who sang the song Soul Man


Soul is definitely vocal music. Namely "Afro-American light music", which emerged in the 50s from rhythm'n'blues and gospel (a pinch of jazz and blues is also included). The influence of soul on the development of western pop music can still be heard today. Although still generally thought of in the categories R'n'B / Black Music and Pop, there are now enough examples in which the boundaries are blurred beyond recognition.

The greatest stylistic feature of soul is still the heart-rending singing. To give oneself to the music, the vibes and the message with all your heart and soul is the motto. And since whites are not exactly considered to be expressive tossing emotions and blacks tend to have a traditionally justified, easier access to spirituals and gospels, soul musicians are often black.

Ray Charles is the icon. James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett follow in his slipstream. The soul wave experienced its climax during the 60s. Around 1966/1967, "black pop music" temporarily determined the international music market. James Brown has several hits and Aretha Franklin is the most successful black artist from 1967 to 1970 ("I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Loved You)", "Respect", "Baby I Love You", etc.). In 1969 the great success of black pop music was taken into account and the rhythm'n'blues charts were renamed soul charts.

However, the soul tsunami that was raging in the white pop charts at the time is ebbing away again. The next tide comes during the 1970s when producers are more vigorously adapting to white tastes. Under the label Phillysound, the new style again enjoyed hit parade honors in the 70s. In 1982 the chart name was changed from Soul to Black Music. At this point in time, soul had long since conquered its place in music history.

The term soul first appeared in the 1930s in connection with gospel groups. The Soul Stirrers have an early testimony. The term did not gain acceptance until the 1950s, but was initially often used in the context of jazz. Because after the nervous and complicated bebop and the overcooled West Coast jazz, the young Afro-American jazz musicians are returning to their musical roots.

They use gospel and blues influences in their pieces. The pioneer of what is known as soul jazz or hard bop is Horace Silver, whose early piece "The Preacher" is a defining element of the style. At the same time, rhythm'n'blues musicians are starting to integrate elements of gospel into their music. Clyde McPhatter is a pioneer. However, Ray Charles made the breakthrough. It is his songs that hit the charts from the mid-50s. It's his songs that make history. And it's his songs that stand the test of time.

Melodic gospel motifs are one of the ingredients in all songs. Ray Charles' early hit "I Got A Women" (1955), for example, is based on the traditional gospel "My Jesus Is All The World To Me". Only the replacement of the religious text with secular (read: love for God through love for a woman) differentiates between the original and the soul version. It was not until the end of the 50s that the direct takeover of a gospel song succeeded in giving birth to what goes down in music history as soul. In addition to Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and the Godfather are also significantly involved.

On a political level, a new self-confidence and understanding of blacks emerged from the intensification of racial conflicts in the 1960s. "Black Is Beautiful" is a slogan that emerged back then on the basis of declaring war on one's own feelings of inferiority. Integration into white society and the right to one's own social and cultural identity are on the list of political demands. At the time, the term soul expresses not only the musical meaning but also black culture and identity. 'Soul' is politically and socially charged with many meanings and in this sense a code for a black self-image.

During these times, black people address each other as soul-brother and soul-sister. The shopkeepers in the ghettos hang signs reading 'Soul-Brother' in the shop windows as a sign of solidarity and to protect themselves from looting. Back then, soul concerts were used to celebrate the style-defining 'call and response' known from the Afro-American church and the blues. The call-answer principle is followed between the band and the audience, between the brass and the background, or between the protagonist and the soloist. In combination with onomatopoeic noises such as screaming and moaning, and the instrumental accompaniment that drives the groove forward with the catchy chord progressions of gospel, the impression of an ecstatic church community is created during the live shows.

At the beginning of the 60s new soul musicians like Solomon Burke ("Cry To Me", 1962), Joe Tex, Wilson Pickett ("I Found A Love", "With The Falcons") and later Aretha Franklin released one on Atlantic Records large number of pieces. Typical for this time are dramatic 6/8 ballads with soulful vocal interpretation.

The releases of the Stax label from Memphis hold against it with Otis Redding ("These Arms Of Mine", 1963), Rufus Thomas, Sam & Dave and Booker T. & The MG's. What is played here is called Southern Soul, Memphis Sound or Memphis Soul.

A third movement that is important for the development of soul comes from Detroit. This is where the Motown label publishes, whose company name will later go down in history as its own style. Motown is characterized by a pompous sound enriched with many, especially classical instruments, which has increased over the years. Angry tongues speak of a "pleasing musical entertainment product". The Temptations, The Supremes and later Smokey Robinson and the Jackson Five serve as Motown figureheads. The productions are clearly geared towards a white market and are very successful there.

Unmolested by all this, James Brown does his own thing and Stevie Wonder cannot be nailed down stylistically either, even if he comes from the Motown forge.

Soul in its various forms performs the balancing act of being smoothed for the white mass market, but at the same time wanting to represent a black self-confidence. For sociologists, the question arises as to why whites accept this music and so make it so successful. In addition to the fascinatingly conveyed emotions, the decisive factor is that the political demands of the soul brother and sister are entirely acceptable to liberal whites. It is not about a fundamental change in the political and social order, but about constitutionally guaranteed rights. A good basis to meet for civil rights demonstrations or for handclapping at a soul gig.

"With the assassination of Martin Luther King in April 1968, the soul movement as a social, political and musical articulation of colored people in the USA is noticeably diminishing" (Wicke / Ziegenrücker, Handbuch der popular Musik, Schott, 1997).

Under the label Phillysound, Soul enjoyed chart honors again in the 70s. With overloaded, sweet sound aesthetics, the less syncopated rhythm makes an important contribution to the development of the disco. In connection with Phillysound, Wicke / Ziegenrücker speak of "commercial dance music produced using the assembly line process, which only had a very limited relationship to the values ​​of Afro-American culture". Disco and funk (the second child of soul) are still two of the relevant and historically significant styles of the 70s.

At the beginning of the 80s soul was in a crisis. But the world keeps turning and next to Tina Turner, Prince and Michael Jackson, who are looking for proximity to the white pop market, hip hop is the main driving force behind the development of black music.

In the course of the 90s, R'n'B, Nu Soul, Neo Soul, Urban Soul and Acoustic Soul establish themselves in the musical landscape. The spectrum of artists ranges from Erykah Badu, India Arie, Beyoncé, Anita Baker, Luther Vandross and Lauryn Hill to Jill Scott, Alicia Keys, Joss Stone, Lisa Stansfield, Soul II Soul, Xavier Naidoo and Stefan Gwildis.

So black music is almost everywhere. Nowadays, soul is often used colloquially as a synonym for black pop music, which according to Wikipedia "is somehow 'soulful'". The old original pieces live on in samples. The techno and house community is grateful for every groovy lick and makes an important contribution to remembering the good old songs. And every now and then a real soul album even comes out on the market.