As part of music theory, chord progressions are key. Even if jazz is not your main genre, this knowledge will broaden your musical vocabulary and help you create different styles more efficiently.
Neo soul is known for its groove and rhythm-focused compositions, so guitar effects such as phaser or delay pedals are commonly employed.
Ray Charles was one of the most remarkable singers, songwriters, and composers in musical history. As one of the pioneers of soul music he broke down barriers between various genres and created his own genre called soul that combined elements from blues, jazz, R&B (rhythm and blues), country rock as well as other influences to produce his signature sound – truly one musical genius whose influence can still be felt today!
He was an icon among musicians, his songs and performances often featuring elements of African American culture. His musical tastes ranged widely and he constantly experimented with new genres of music. Unfortunately, however, his drug addiction had an adverse impact on his career.
Charles was an incredible singer-songwriter, but his true genius lay in his ability to emote through music. With a powerful voice capable of stirring emotions both sorrowful and joyous in audiences alike, Charles was also an impressive pianist and composer.
He was one of the most influential musicians of his time, inspiring many young musicians to follow in his footsteps. His life was an inspiring tale of triumph over hardship; while his music expressed his emotions.
Ray Charles was an astounding musician, constantly exploring different styles of music – he even composed soundtracks for movies! Aside from being an exceptional pianist, he was also renowned as a dancer and comedian; an iconic figure during the 1950s that remains legendary today.
Ray Charles was an extraordinary talent who left an indelible mark on soul music history. A pioneer of soul, his pioneering work brought together elements from country music, R&B, pop, jazz and folk into something truly distinctive and transcendental. Influencing many young musicians as an influencer himself and leaving an incredible legacy for generations of listeners to follow in his footsteps will always remain memorable in our memories.
Stevie Wonder has long been revered as one of the greatest soul musicians ever. As both an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, producer, songwriter and social activist – his songs often depict utopian futures of harmony and equality that reflect his peaceful activism efforts.
Born blind in 1950, he quickly taught himself harmonica, piano, drums, and percussion before reaching 12 years of age. By this point, he had already hit pop charts with his debut single “Fingertips,” prompting Motown founder Berry Gordy to sign him – and the rest is history!
Over the years, he has produced numerous hits and chart-topping albums, many with elastic voices that blend soul, funk, rock and roll, Broadway/Tin Pan Alley style pop, jazz and African elements into vibrant recordings that bring joyous listening experiences. His recordings showcase soulful grooves as well as classic Broadway/Tin Pan Alley pop laced with jazz elements. His extraordinary melodic facility and uncanny ability in complex arrangements makes listening to his music truly enjoyable!
Wonder was an expert at blending gospel and R&B styles together into his signature sound, “Superstition.” Despite its secular message, this song has become an icon of soul music and funk due to its driving beat, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, vocal improvisation and use of jazz instruments.
Stevie Wonder has had a profound influence on contemporary music as a singer/songwriter. He helped pioneer many genres and subgenres he helped define such as Motown Soul (rhythm and blues with an orchestral sound), New Orleans Soul (a sensuous R&B style that blends funk, traditional jazz, African-American roots, deep soul and southern soul music) with joyous positivity while simultaneously writing about emotional pain or social issues. His music brings joyous positivity in spite of its sometimes sad subject matter.
Quiet Storm music consists of romantic R&B ballads with slow tempos that focus on themes related to love, relationships, and heartache. First popularized in the 1970s by Luther Vandross and Sade for black radio broadcasting; its appeal continues today: Swiss DJ/producer Sam Geiser (known as Deetron) recently released an EP entitled Body Electric that draws upon this genre as its inspiration.
In 1976, Melvin Lindsey, an intern at Howard University’s contemporary radio station WHUR, came up with the quiet storm format. While filling in for DJ one night he found that playing smooth grooves seemed to resonate with listeners; as a result he began programming a weekly nighttime soul show which quickly gained local audiences’ appreciation.
Quiet Storm was an unconventional radio station, playing deep cuts and oldies but goodies. Additionally, this genre featured male vocalists – an unusual feature among black radio formats in the 70s – such as Luther Vandross, Peabo Bryson, James Ingram and Freddie Jackson who found their niche here. Quiet Storm catered towards middle-class urban adults who preferred soft pop and jazz songs as entertainment.
Male singers were prodded into creating more striking aesthetics in terms of both image and sound through the blaxploitation film movement and live performances on Soul Train, such as Teddy Pendergrass who famously donned a tailored cream suit while seductively gazing at his audience for his 1979 album cover photo shoot.
Though hip hop began to eclipse black radio, the quiet storm era remains alive with current artists and genres that carry its legacy forward. The format still appeals to an intelligent audience who appreciate its soothing melodies and emotive lyrics, especially young listeners who find comforting melodies within these intimate lyrics.
Jess Harvell writes for Pitchfork that Sade helped define the “quiet storm era,” with her smooth grooves targeted towards adults during a time when British sophisti-pop and synth-heavy new wave were mainstream phenomena. Singers such as Heatwave, The Isley Brothers, Phyllis Hyman Regina Belle Miki Howard and Chante Moore may never have found a home on radio without its influence.
The Rolling Stones
The Stones rose to fame during the British Invasion. Beginning as a blues group, their music quickly transformed over time as they integrated rock influences from contemporaries like the Beatles and Kinks into their sound while also taking advantage of American soul music for rhythmic drive.
Early on, The Rolling Stones became known for a gritty yet rhythmic sound that helped define hard rock music while drawing influences from African-American blues and funk music. At the peak of British Invasion popularity, they became one of the world’s most well-known and beloved bands.
As The Rolling Stones gained in popularity, they moved away from their blues roots and experimented with psychedelia for a short while before returning to soul and R&B influences in their music.
This new approach allowed them to develop a more mature and sophisticated sound while making live shows more exciting and entertaining. Their emotive lyrics addressed many topics – religion, war, police brutality, lust – as well as every topic imaginable that made their fans wonder and shudder.
While The Stones were among the most revered groups of their time, they experienced difficulties during the late ’60s. Gimme Shelter, their 1969 album release that coincided with Altamont Speedway concert violence and death was marred by tragedy; nonetheless they continued producing and touring through much of this decade.
The Stones made their comeback to mainstream audiences with 1994’s Voodoo Lounge album produced by Don Was. This record garnered some of their strongest reviews ever and led to their first successful tour since decades had past; unfortunately drummer Charlie Watts passed shortly thereafter due to drug abuse; nevertheless the Stones continued recording and touring into the late ’90s while producing hits, including recording at New York City’s Beacon Theatre, which they released a live album from in 2006.