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Originating Location: United States
Originating Era: late 1950s, early 1960s
Soul music, an American-born combination of R&B (rhythm and blues) and gospel, emerged during the final years of the 1950s with the recordings of James Brown, the more pop-oriented Sam Cooke and the always resilient Ray Charles. The genre however did not actually distinguish itself from R&B until the 60s, where a number of different geographically-determined styles emerged, all of which were dubbed soul.
The argueably most important of these scenes was headquarted in the southeast, headquarted in Memphis, Tennessee and Florence, Alabama respectively. Stax Records and their subisidary Volt in Memphis was as progressive as you get in the 1960s American south. Behind the integrated house band, Booker T. and the MGs, and the visionary Jim Stewart, Stax produced countless early soul hits from Wilson Pickett, Don Covay and their superstar, Otis Redding. Along with the similar minded Fame in Florence, home to Aretha Franklin, Jimmy Hughes and Percy Sledge, the two labels distinguished the southern soul sound. This style was probably the most energetic of all early soul, sticking close to the energy of R&B and gospel music. The secular attempt at the music deemed to be immensly popular and is often classified as the true soul music. It should also be noted that Atlantic Records was essential in popularizing the style. Aretha Franklin, Solomon Burke, Ray Charles, Rufus and Carla Thomas all recorded albums for the burgeoning New York label.