Where’s the Soul?

In the early 1950’s Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Johnnie Taylor, and their contemporaries were artists I came into being on planet Earth, thereby placing me at the time marking the foundation of authentic soul music.  The conditions of dreaming to melodically express your feelings were a major characteristic of soul music.

The dances that just past from the jive, jitter bug, dirty dancing was a huge era of the possibilities of how music could make you feel really special.  Soul music extended that love of sound where if the end product did not move you it was probably not placed into the realm of soul music.

Musical artists from around the globe, especially the UK were inspired by the highlighted soul singers such as those three aforementioned soul artists along with Little Richard, James Brown, Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, Ruth Brown, Etta James, and the like.  Aspiring artists knew if they could come close to this groove it would complete their objectives to be heard and appreciated.

Elvis saw the magic in should both visually and vocally working his lower body like Jackie Wilson and James Brown, and getting one of big hits ‘You Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog’ from Big Mama Thornton. Mick Jagger followed James Brown on stage at the famous 1964 televised T.A.M.I. Show (Santa Monica Auditorium in California), where his performance style to this day with the Rolling Stones still delivers an emulatoin of dynamic movement like Mr. Dynamite.

A non-defined music genre is what I call Cool music. Jazz, Bee Bop and Doo Wap had some well noted royally cool entertainers including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Cab Calloway, Little Anthony and Imperials, etc.  All the while these artists performed around the world with great acceptance, the United States citizens strived to struggle in a step-by-step manner to identify with people they felt uncomfortable to include.

At the same time those who were segregated from the main stream in housing, employment, finance, hospitality, travel, sports and in general all sectors of a democratic society the growth of identity went from colored, Negro, black, African American, back to black in consistent contribution to making music.  Also, the medium of radio and the ever improving methods for recoding and manufacturing records attracted many to want to sing and produce sounds.  Soul music bolstered an industry with a huge influx of revenue.

Blacks were heavy into the Baptist church where gospel music using rhythm and blues musicians were releasing their own sounds and artists.  Such artist quickly realized that the movement to hear a more soulful secular sound was where the money was existed.  The explosion of soul music became everything from inspiration, reflection, dancing and an overall good feeling elevated record labels such as Motown, Atlantic, Philadelphia International, and Stax that were the seat of soul artists.

Since all of this was the best thing for music since the big band era, it makes me wonder where did soul music go?  It is not promoted as it was in the last half of the 20th Century.  What happen to soul music can be explained from several directions as the socioeconomic conditions for blacks have changed dramatically from the origins of the soul sound is one reason.  The major change of replacing live musicians in the recording studio with an automated computerized music process contributed to death of studio soul bands like Motown’s simply marvelous Funk Brothers.

If Soul Train had stayed true to their name and concept it would have created a better format for exposing artists like The Controllers, The Impressions, The Isley Brothers, The Detroit Emeralds, The Dramatics, The Manhattans, The Intruders, The Delfonics, The Chi-Lites, The Emotions, The Stylistics, The Dells, The Spinners, The Gap Band, The Dynamic Superiors, Blue Magic, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, Ohio Players, Enchantment, Midnight Star, Atlantic Starr, L.T.D…  Soul Train instead went for ratings and did not stick to the script that originated in Chicago and became the first and last bastion for televised Soul Music.

With Soul Train’s perceived soul advocacy energy eliminated, American Idol and the Voice can easily hands select the sound they want America to appreciate. On 15 seasons of Idol with the exception of Ruben Studdard and Fantasia (both could not be denied, although Clay Akins was pushed into Ruben’s spotlight) the idea of pushing soul singers over that of country and rock appears advocates for authentic soul singers were null and void.

Jordin Sparks could have been a soul singer, but her win on idol placed her in the hands of 19 Entertainment company that used synthesized music that does not enter the soul of the listeners.  Her body of work place hip hop into a sultry sexy mix.

I would love to say Christina Aguilera recognizes because she is a soulful singer, but it seems that Voice show producers stir her away from selecting the soul singers.  It was really apparent with Usher sat in the chair.  He avoided soul singers like the plaque.  He chair was nearly stationary when it came to hearing a soulful singer.