SOUL / R&B
THE HEAVENLY SOUND OF ILLINOIS SOUL AND R&B
Some of Soul music’s mightiest figures came from the church: Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield, Lou Rawls, Donny Hathaway, Otis Clay, and the Staple Singers in Chicago. The Rev. Al Green in Memphis, the Isley Brothers in Cincinnati, and Marvin Gaye in Detroit. Controversy sometimes occurred when artists crossed over from the church to apply religious lessons in secular music but the music remained filled with clarity and dignity. It played well in the mist of the morning but just as well as under the sheets of a candlelit bedtime.
And there were lessons to be learned by listening to Mayfield’s bountiful songbook (“People Get Ready, “This is My Country,” “Keep on Pushing)”, the Five Stairsteps timeless “O-o-h Child” and Hathaway’s “The Ghetto.”
When it came time to dance, Rhythm and Blues (R&B) took the stage. Rhythm and Blues were created as it sounds: a Funk bottom establishing the rhythm, a shot of Blues for the emotional measure, and later some electronic Disco for the party.
The gritty sound of Illinois Rhythm and Blues stretched from Tyrone “The Wonder Boy” Davis (“Turn Back the Hands of Time”) in Chicago to Ike and Tina Turner emerging from East St. Louis (Il.) and St. Louis. Rhythm and Blues expanded on the faith of Soul music by adding spectral group vocals, fiery horns, and a sense of artistic anarchy that was open to Rock music, modern Jazz, and later Hip-Hop.