History of Southern Soul



ImageSouthern soul is a specific type of soul/R&B music. Identified with artists like Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, The Staple Singers, Sam and Dave and many others, It is a pulsating, gritty style of soul music, propelled by a powerful horns and a driving rhythm section. The Southern soul sound was brought to national attention in the United States on records like those released by Stax (located in Memphis, Tennessee). The house band at the Stax recording studios, the Mar-Keys (members of which later formed Booker T and the MGs), was one of the first racially integrated popular music groups. Another important recording studio was Muscle Shoals, home of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (a.k.a. The Swampers).

ImageThe term Southern soul refers to music recorded in studios south of the Mason-Dixon line but is also be applied to musical styles that were developed there, regardless of where the actual recording took place. For example, Aretha Franklin’s Atlantic recordings were often laid down in New York, but the sound was authentically southern, and not just because the key Muscle Shoals players were flown up to the Big Apple to accompany her. Some confusion regarding the term is due to the prevalence of the genre Northern Soul, which refers not to a geographical location in the U.S., but to one in the U.K., despite the fact that the music is almost exclusively American in origin.