Soul music has some very unique features that are not evident in other genres. For one thing, it is designed to convey strong emotions and typically has deep, meaningful lyrics created for this purpose. Its roots are from old gospel played in southern churches in the United States. Soul also typically has a strong sense of rhythm to it.
The vocals are typically very emotional and can vary from high energy to more mournful and slow. A range of musical instruments are used in soul, including drums, guitar, piano and keyboard. This style of music is special because it has had a huge impact and influence on the development of later genres. In fact, elements of soul are still seen, even today, in many popular neo-soul artists.
Soul Music and Other Genres
Soul music also led to the invention of several sub-genres. The Motown sounds of Diana Ross and the Jackson 5 became popular and remained so for many years. Motown was really the first time that soul and pop started to merge and mix to create an entirely new type of music.
New Orleans soul had a strong rhythm and blues sound with artists like Fats Domino and Little Richard making a significant impact on the charts, both in of R&B and in pop. Many other sub-genres of soul developed and even a soul jazz style was invented.
Recent pop artists have incorporated soul elements into their music. Successful performers such as Alicia Keys and John Legend have strong, soulful undertones, which make them perfect for love songs. The late Amy Winehouse is still very popular, even after her untimely death, and her musical style has a strong soul vibe to it. Her songs pulled at emotions and often conveyed her struggles with substance abuse, which many people could relate to.
A Bold Statement
Another reason people consider soul to be so important is that some songs addressed important political and social issues that were otherwise being ignored by the masses. The genre was made to express the social angst of the people at various times throughout the decades of political and racial unrest. One such example is Marvin Gaye’s “Inner city blues” which was a call to fix the problems of inner-city life. This is a song that, sadly, is still relevant today.
Aretha Franklin’s song “Respect” was used as an anthem for the women’s rights movement of the time. James Brown similarly had a song calling for a change. His song “Say it loud (I’m black and I’m proud)” was a way to encourage the African American community to be proud of who they were. This was especially relevant in light of the racial tensions that were prevalent in the United States.
Many people believe that these types of songs helped to inspire and motivate people to bring about social changes for the better in the United States. The fact that the music was highly charged with emotion, were relatable and had a good rhythm helped to get the message across clearly.