Sounds of Soul UK on Potterrow offers an unconventional combination of craft beer and classic soul and motown music, featuring DJ Babs Flow, Craig Smith and Edinburgh scene veteran Sean McCabe as resident DJs with serious musical integrity.
Mel Day from Britain’s Got Talent will make her special guest appearance at Entertainers – producers of The Magic of Motown and Lost in Music shows – during this touring production from Entertainers.
Beginning in the late 1950s and early 1960s, black American artists experimented with rhythm and blues (R&B). These new musical forms combined R&B with gospel music as well as other traditional African American sounds to form unique hybrid genres known as rhythm-and-blues (T-Bou). Soul was a new form of music, unlike rock or other forms of pop. Soul music derived from African American gospel traditions. Small soul scenes emerged across northern England and Scotland. These scenes were centered around clubs like Wigan Casino, Torch in Stoke, and Clouds in Edinburgh – each offering non-mainstream hits while emphasizing rare soul music not found on charts; these venues also supported subcultures like Mod revivalism and scooter boy culture.
Over time, however, soul music began to lose favor among young white British audiences as it lost its initial appeal due to the rising influence of rock music, which incorporated many of the same elements but in a more rebellious fashion than soul. Additionally, many original R&B artists from America who enjoyed great popularity had little appeal among white audiences as their music did not cater directly to them.
Peel responded to this decline by changing his attitude toward soul music, still featuring R&B artists on his shows but including more soul recordings as part of his playlists. He even launched a radio program entitled “Soulenium,” featuring all forms of soul music.
The BBC was quickly followed by other European broadcasters eager to promote soul music. This new genre had broad appeal across racial and cultural boundaries within Britain; many musicians of the British Invasion such as Paul Weller and Soft Cell recognized its influence on their own songs.
Today, “soul music” refers to an expansive range of genres. Many popular dance styles such as house, drum and bass and UK garage have roots in soul. Additionally, contemporary funk and jazz artists often incorporate elements of soul into their works.
Beyonce’s Renaissance World Tour arrives in Edinburgh this weekend, turning BT Murrayfield Stadium into a large musical stage. Boasting ticket numbers that could rival those found at an American football field, this show will likely become Scotland’s largest event of its type ever hosted – drawing fans from throughout Scotland and even further afield to secure themselves seats for Beyonce’s show.
But while global superstars dominate, talented writers and performers are also making waves in soul music scene today. This new vanguard of soul musicians are working hard to revitalize soul for post-grime era by merging raw urgency of underground soul with orchestrated crossover R&B/funk compositions.
London singer-songwriter Joel Culpepper stands out among them as an artist who seamlessly mixes grime with old school soul orchestration, producing heartbreaking yet upbeat tunes that never sound hopelessly melancholic or depressing. Joel’s musical influences come from his youth – street soul is his musical home, which includes bassy reggae basslines, hip-hop beats, and smooth soul vocals all within one soundscape.
Producer Inflo, another Londoner, creates jazz-influenced productions that pay homage to classic Motown sounds as well as hard-edged British funk from the 70s. His productions also draw from American fusionists from the 1990s like Erykah Badu and Anderson Paak whose blend of jazz, R&B, and laidback hip hop was known as neo-soul.
Scottish producer Swindle serves as a bridge between these disparate worlds. His artist albums such as 2019’s No More Normal and 2021’s The New World offer an intriguing sonic map of his vision; genres like grime, alt-rap, dubstep and jazz are disassembled and rebuilt according to Swindle’s vision with brass arrangements and huge strings driving it all forward. Swindle works alongside an impressive roster of guest artists ranging from Brighton saxophonist Cleveland Watkiss to London Swedish-Eritrean storyteller Miryam Solomon all the way down to rapper Ego Ella May.
An evening at a Victorian Gothic church featured men and women dancing harmoniously together in perfect rhythm, spinning and shuffleing in perfect synchrony while cameras captured every move. It was an occasion when religious icons met Northern Soul music that has thrived across Scotland for almost 50 years; featured in an award-winning documentary called Long After Tonight that will be shown this summer at Dundee McManus Gallery as part of a season celebrating subcultures.
Although most people associate “soul” with rhythm and blues music, that isn’t exactly accurate. In the mid 1960s, the word was first used to refer to R&B music influenced by Motown and Stax sounds. Artists recording this style were known as blue-eyed soul artists and later their music had an immense impact on rock bands such as Paul Weller, Soft Cell and Oasis.
As R&B became increasingly popular, so too did demand for live performances, leading to genres such as funk and disco which trace their roots back to soul music. Today these genres continue to have a major impact on musicians across the world as dynamic influences.
Soul music’s legacy continues to thrive across Edinburgh clubs despite the rise of electronic music. Many of Edinburgh’s top dancefloors feature classic soul and modern day funk from notable names like multi-award winning DJ Rahaan, Edinburgh scene veterans Simmone Black and The Blonde Flash as well as modern Scottish songwriter Natasha Kitty Kat who composed music for Issa Rae’s hit comedy Insecure’s final season soundtrack.
Young and creative members in New York City are making significant strides toward shaping the future of music with the creation of hypersoul – a subgenre of soul characterized by more European influences, deeper bass tones, electronic textures, funk elements and themes such as urbanization and inequality in its soundscape.
Northern Soul remains relevant today through venues like Liquid Room – an edgy club-in-a-church founded in 2008 after it reopened following a fire and now hosting over 800 people on two floors and an overhanging balcony with seating on both. Home to some of Scotland’s best modern acts including indie rockers EVOL and techno heavy Musika, among many others!
As people crave something from their past, several clubs and events are emerging that provide people with a taste of it all: such as Deptford Northern Soul club (with Bristol dancer Levanna McLean performing her moves all the way down Clevedon Pier!), Sheffield Younghearts Soul Club and Edinburgh Limbo as gig-in-a-club nights.
Maureen Wallace of Rosyth has been enjoying music for decades and attends regular dance nights with friends who share her taste in music – creating what feels like an extended family atmosphere. “It’s great having everyone there who all share my enthusiasm!” she exclaims.
Northern Soul tracks were mostly composed by black artists discovered during transatlantic buying trips by DJs; however, approximately 20% of its most iconic singles came from white singers such as Gloria Jones and R Dean Taylor – proving its cross-cultural popularity and breadth of appeal.
Northern Soul’s survival despite only existing in a handful of UK regions is remarkable, made more so by its renewed interest among younger people – proof that its legacy lives on!
No doubt the Northern Soul revival will thrive and continue to inspire a new generation of Scottish dancers, DJs and producers. But it’s essential that older generations do not lose track of its heritage or forget their responsibility in passing on knowledge to younger audiences; who knows? They could be responsible for taking this genre even further afield – until then get ready to ride the Soul Train!