Soul Music Singers that left a Mark in the Music Industry

Soul music originated in the African American community in the United States in about the 1950s and 1960s. This music incorporates and combines stylistic elements from gospel, rhythm and blues, and jazz music

Ray Charles

One of the first breakouts and most important musicians of the soul music genre was Ray Charles. He was born in Georgia in 1930 and became a composer, singer and musician. Often named the “father of soul”, he created such popular songs as “Georgia on my mind” and “Hit the road Jack”, both of which won Grammy awards. Ray Charles is credited as being one of the pioneers of soul music in America. In 1959 he started playing music that incorporated gospel music with the blues Soul music reflected the struggle of the African American community at the time and became more popular towards the late 1960s when the civil rights movement gained traction.

Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye

Another important singer, performing at the time when soul music was developing, was Otis Redding, referred to by some as the “king of soul”. He was influenced by Little Richard and Sam Cooke. Sam Cooke was a notable singer and composer from Mississippi, who was to be a great influence on the music works of Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye. Marvin Gaye, along with Stevie Wonder, helped to influence Motown. His music was later named neo-soul and included some different elements such as funk, jazz and pop.

James Brown

Some other important soul music singers include such music artists as James Brown, Little Richard and Ben E. King. James Brown is often referred to as the “godfather of soul”, and one of the original singers to develop what was called funk music. James Brown started off as a gospel singer in Georgia, later joining a rhythm and blues group known as the Gospel Starlighters. As time passed, he experimented and incorporated African sounds into his music. By the 1970s, he had developed funk music. Little Richard was born Richard Wayne Penniman in Georgia. He had a major influence on music, being involved in the development of several music genre including rock and roll, soul music and funk.

Artists From Georgia

Otis Redding and James Brown were both singers that came from the south, from Macon, Georgia. Soul music became so popular that some of the songs became a top 10 hit in the US. For instance, the song “Stand by me” by Ben E King.

There were also great women singers of the soul music genre. For example, Aretha Franklin who became a very popular soul music singer and became known as the “queen of soul”. Interestingly Aretha Franklin began as a gospel singer. She grew up in Detroit Michigan where used to sing at the church where her father was the reverend. She later combined rhythm and blues with gospel music and soon gathered fans.

It is thanks to these talented early singers and musicians that soul music was created and developed into what it is. Elements of soul music are still present in many successful songs today.