What is Southern Soul?
Southern Soul is today’s extension of classic rhythm and blues as it was played and appreciated in the 60’s and early 70’s, and as it’s still being played on the Stations of The Deep South. Southern Soul music–with its own stars, its own audience and day-to-day hits–is the resurgence of that verse-and-chorus, story-telling tradition. In addition to Motown, Memphis, Philly and Chicago-style rhythm and blues, Southern Soul borrows freely from country, gospel, rock, pop and many other influences.
It is not simply the “blues,” with which it is often confused, and which traces its roots through a decidedly narrower, less danceable, lineage. Probably the most accurate synonym for “southern soul” is “country soul.” Southern Soul is more laid-back and low-tech than the “urban” sound that dominates today’s R&B charts. It’s more liable to include a narrative, it’s less likely to be frenetic, it’s grittier.
Southern Soul doesn’t mean the music has to come from the Deep South, although most of it does. It does mean that it’s most likely to be appreciated in the South, in the Black community. They call the music Southern Soul because the South is where it’s nurtured. The South is where it has a chance of entering people’s real lives.
For the lifelong music lover the attraction of Southern Soul, apart from its excellent musical quality, is its volume. Because of the genre’s long neglect and marginalization by the mainstream media, the new fan of Southern Soul music can easily spend years of pleasure just catching up with all the Southern Soul artists and chitlin’ circuit “hits” thriving beneath the national radar.