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Jeremy Rich

Nigerian pioneer of juju and world music star, was born Sunday Adeniyi Adé in the southwestern Nigerian city of Ondo on 22 September 1946. His father was a Methodist pastor and the organist for his church, while his mother engaged in various trading enterprises. Through his maternal grandfather, who lived in the town of Akoure, near Ondo, Ade was of royal lineage. By the time he reached his adolescent years, Adé had moved with his family to the town of Oshobo. Although he completed primary school, Adé ended up dropping out of secondary school before completing his studies. His lack of financial resources cut short his formal education. He already had developed eclectic tastes in music through his childhood and adolescent experiences. Traditional Yoruba music featuring drums fascinated the young boy, as did the occasional use of drums at church. Adé remembered in a 2005 interview that when ...

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Norman Weinstein

Sunday Anthony Ishola Adeniyi Adegeye, known internationally to African music fans as King Sunny Ade, was raised in a home where Christian and Yoruba religious and cultural perspectives were thoroughly intermingled. Ade's father was a church organist. Ade attended missionary schools, then dropped out of college in the 1960s to pursue a career as a drummer in Juju bands. Juju, a form of Nigerian pop music first developed by Yoruba musicians in the 1920s, was just beginning to gain an international audience. Ade's chief musical inspiration was I. K. Dairo, though Ade's later song lyrics drew more inspiration from his Christian education.

The early 1970s marked the birth of Ade s reputation as an African superstar with an international audience Ade deviated from the Dairo legacy through a series of innovations He expanded the juju band lineup from a single electric guitarist to as many as six played with at ...

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Nathaniel Friedman

soul and rhythm and blues singer and songwriter, was born Arthur Alexander Jr. in Florence, Alabama, to Arthur Alexander, a laborer and musician, and Fannie Scott Spencer. He was exposed to music at an early age by his mother and older sister, who sang in church, and by his father, who played weekend gigs as a bottleneck blues guitarist. After high school Alexander was working as a bellhop at the Sheffield Hotel when he met Tom Stafford, a white R&B enthusiast who introduced him to what would become the nucleus of the Muscle Shoals–area studio scene: Dan Penn, Rick Hall, Spooner Oldham, and Billy Sherrill. The men, all then working for Rick Hall's Fame Music Stafford, found Alexander's songwriting abilities every bit as intriguing as his singing, and soon made sure that Alexander became part of Fame's writing operation. In 1958Alexander and Henry Lee Bennett coauthored ...

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Dave Laing

(b Philadelphia, 1936; d Schiphol airport, Netherlands, Oct 10, 2010). American soul and gospel singer. He came from a family of Christian ministers and became known as the ‘Wonder-Boy Preacher’ after appearing on the radio in Philadelphia at the age of nine. Burke developed what he called his ‘rock and soul music’ in the early 1960s, recording hit versions of Harlan Howard's country and western song Just out of Reach (Of my Two Empty Arms) and Cry to me. Most of his best recordings were melodramatic ballads such as If You Need Me and Goodbye Baby, although the insistent dance song Everybody needs somebody to love was one of his biggest hits Like Ray Charles Burke helped to shape the soul music genre by adapting the vocal motifs of black American religious music to secular themes This approach was ...

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Nathaniel Friedman

soul singer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1940 (sometimes cited as 1936) to Vince and Josephine Burke. Vince, a Jamaican immigrant, worked as a chicken plucker in a kosher market, while Josephine was an ordained preacher. Burke followed in his mother's footsteps; by age seven he had begun delivering sermons at the church founded by his grandmother, Eleanora A. Moore, and soon became known as the “Wonder Boy Preacher.” At twelve Burke was delivering sermons on the radio and leading tent revivals in Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas.

In 1955 Burke proposed that his vocal group the Gospel Cavaliers enter a talent show at the local Liberty Baptist Church His bandmates had other plans however so Burke went as a solo act His performance so impressed the wife of a Philadelphia DJ that she helped Burke secure a recording contract with the New York label Apollo ...

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Mary Krane Derr

vocalist, pianist, songwriter, and music producer, was born Robert Howard Byrd in Toccoa, a small town in the Appalachian country of northeastern Georgia. He was raised there by his grandmother and his mother, Zarah Byrd. She took her children, including Bobby, to shape-note singing concerts. Once popular in Appalachia, shape-note, or sacred harp, is a style of musical notation designed to aid congregational singing. Zarah Byrd taught her children how to play the piano and steeped them in the African American gospel singing tradition at Mount Zion Baptist Church in the town's Whitman Avenue. Georgia Mae Williams, the pianist at Mount Zion and Bobby's second piano teacher, was another great contributor to his musical education.

From a young age Bobby Byrd excelled at voice and piano He also did well with sports and was active in school clubs He even became the only young ...

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Rob Bowman

(b Memphis, 25 March 1942; d Detroit, 16 Aug 2018). American soul singer, pianist, and songwriter. She was the daughter of one of the most prominent Baptist preachers in the USA, C.L. Franklin. Moving first to Buffalo and then in 1948 to Detroit the family was regularly visited by a number of important African American gospel performers including Mahalia Jackson Sam Cooke Clara Ward and the Ward Sisters including Marion Williams and James Cleveland from whom Franklin learnt to sing and play the piano Her father recorded over 60 albums of his impassioned sermons for JVB and Chess and at the age of 14 Franklin recorded her first album a collection of gospel songs for Chess Four years later she moved to New York where she recorded seven albums for Columbia on which she sang jazz blues popular standards and the ...

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Alisha R. Coleman

Aretha Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. Her father, Rev. Clarence LaVaugh Franklin, was a gospel singer. Aretha was raised by him and a household of housekeepers and family friends including Clara Ward, James Cleveland, and Mahalia Jackson. She began singing in her father's church choir at the age of twelve. She recorded her first album, Songs of Faith, when she was fourteen years old. At an early age she was labeled a “young genius” because of the strength and unique quality of her voice. In 1960, Franklin moved to New York City to pursue a career as a rhythm-and-blues singer. Although she refuses to discuss intimate details of her personal life, her music itself is autobiographical. Songs like “Respect”, “Think”, and “Try a Little Tenderness” reveal the pain and frustration she has experienced in her ...

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Robert W. Logan

Among the many great musicians who came to popular music directly from the African American church, Aretha Franklin is distinguished by the fiery intensity of gospel music that she brought with her. She took unadulterated, undiluted soul music further into the mainstream than anyone who came before her, becoming the best-selling black female pop singer in the late 1960s and early1970s. She has sung at the funerals of national leaders and at the inaugurations of presidents, and she has performed a Puccini aria on a half hour’s notice when Luciano Pavarotti was indisposed. Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul, and when she is inspired everything she touches turns to music.

Aretha Louise Franklin was born to the Reverend C. L. Franklin and Barbara (Siggers) Franklin, in Memphis, Tennessee Her father was a renowned Baptist preacher and singer known as the Man with the Million Dollar Voice and ...

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Marc Anthony Neal

singer and pianist, was born Aretha Louise Franklin in Memphis, Tennessee, the daughter of the Reverend C. L. Franklin, a prominent Baptist minister, and Barbara Siggers. Franklin was one of five children, including sisters Carolyn and Erma, brother Cecil, and half-brother Vaughn.

Franklin and her family settled in Detroit, Michigan, where her father, after a brief sojourn in Buffalo, New York, took over the New Bethel Baptist Church in 1948. Aretha Franklin was literally raised in the bosom of African American religious tradition and was thus the direct product of one of the most significant institutions in the African American community.As a youth Franklin was intimately exposed to the artistry of the major black gospel performers of the era, including Sam Cooke (then of the Soul Stirrers), Mahalia Jackson, James Cleveland who at one time during Franklin s youth was the Minister of Music ...

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Eric Bennett

Aretha Louise Franklin grew from a young gospel singer into a successful and world-famous vocalist. Her many popular hits and gospel masterpieces have earned her the title Queen of Soul. As a daughter of the renowned Baptist preacher C. L. Franklin and his wife, well-known singer Barbara Siggers Franklin, Franklin was born into the world of Gospel Music. Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee and grew up in Detroit, Michgan, where her father drew a congregation of 4,500 people to his New Bethel Baptist Church. C. L. Franklin recognized his daughter's talent, and she was performing in New Bethel's choir by the age of eight. She sang solos at age twelve, and at fourteen she made her first recordings, including a version of Thomas A. Dorsey s gospel classic Precious Lord Take My Hand Franklin also began touring with her father singing wherever he served as ...

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Heather Marie Stur

singer and songwriter. Known as the Queen of Soul and Lady Soul, Aretha Louise Franklin has spent more than half a century recording music that spans genres including gospel, pop, soul, rhythm and blues, rock, jazz, and opera. She has won nineteen Grammy awards, including eleven for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Franklin's songs “Respect” and “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” a duet with George Michael, reached number one on Billboard's Hot 100. Born in Memphis but raised in Detroit, Franklin cut her musical teeth singing in New Bethel Baptist Church, the church of her father, the Reverend C. L. Franklin. Franklin recorded her first album when she was fourteen years old.

When Franklin was a child, her father hosted a number of musicians and performers at the Franklin family home, and they influenced the young Franklin's musical evolution. Mahalia Jackson, Sam ...

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Rob Bowman

(b Washington, DC, April 2, 1939; d Los Angeles, April 1, 1984). American soul singer, drummer, songwriter and producer. He started singing professionally as a member of the Rainbows, a Washington-based doo-wop group. He subsequently joined the Marquees, who signed a recording contract with Chess Records and through which Gaye met the producer and vocalist Harvey Fuqua, joining his doo-wop group, the Moonglows. In 1960 Fuqua and Gaye moved to Detroit and were both signed to Motown Records. Gaye adopted the new spelling of his surname at this point and made solo recordings for the Motown subsidiary Tamla Records in the mould of a jazz-pop ballad singer. When these proved commercially unsuccessful, he recorded more youth-oriented rhythm and blues, first entering the charts with Stubborn Kind of Fellow in 1962 Most of his hits from this time were gospel influenced dance ...

Article

Born in Washington, D.C., Marvin Gaye began singing in church as a child. The son of a poor Pentecostal minister, he grew up listening to the music of American Blues singer Ray Charles, which became a major influence on Gaye's work. In 1958 Gaye joined an R&B vocal group called the Moonglows. Three years later, he signed a recording contract with Tamla, one of the Motown record companies, serving as a drummer for studio sessions and, later, as a singer. Influenced by American singers Frank Sinatra and Nat “King” Cole, Gaye had hoped to sing in the popular style known as crooning but after his first album—a series of jazz standards—received little attention, Motown had him record up-tempo Soul Music material. The result was a series of songs that became classics, beginning with “Stubborn Kind of Fellow” (1963 and culminating in I Heard It Through ...

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Thaddeus Russell

singer and songwriter, was born Marvin Pentz Gay Jr. in Washington, D.C., the son of Marvin Pentz Gay Sr., a Pentecostal minister, and Alberta (maiden name unknown), a domestic worker. The younger Marvin grew up in Washington, where he began his musical career by singing in the choir and playing organ at his father's church. At Cardozo High School in Washington, he played piano in a doo-wop group called the D.C. Tones. He left school after eleventh grade and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. After a year of openly rebelling against his commanding officers and feigning mental illness, he was discharged in 1957 for inability to serve.

Gaye (as he later came to spell his name) then returned to Washington and formed a doo-wop group called the Marquees. In 1957 they recorded a single Wyatt Earp and Hey Little School Girl produced by blues singer and ...

Article

William Carney

musician. Marvin Gaye was born Marvin Pentz Gaye Jr. in 1939 in Washington, D.C. His father, a postal worker, was also the preacher in a storefront Pentecostal church known locally for the quality of the music at its services and for its somewhat unusual beliefs (for example, prohibitions on dancing and a rigid observance of the Jewish high holy days). His father was a violent man and frequently beat Marvin, his brother, and two sisters for seemingly minor infractions. Dropping out of high school at age seventeen to escape an unhappy family situation, Marvin joined the U.S. Air Force. He served less than a year; after a discharge for problems with adjusting to military discipline, he joined the Marquees, a “doo-wop” vocal group, and later he became a member of the Moonglows, one of the most influential vocal quintets of the 1950s.

After the Moonglows disbanded Gaye and ...

Article

David Brackett

(b Forrest City, AR, April 13, 1946). American soul singer and songwriter. One of the best-selling popular artists of the early 1970s, Green synthesized the two main tendencies in soul music of the era: ‘sweet’ soul music and funk. His early background in gospel music formed the basis of his expressive vocal style, which seamlessly combined a gruff but warm baritone with an ethereal falsetto. He stood out from other soul balladeers of the era through his improvisatory melismas and unpredictable phrasing. Although his style was clearly influenced by Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, by the time of his first major pop hit Tired of being Alone (1971), Green had developed an individual voice which he refined further in the number one hit Let's Stay Together (1971). In both these recordings and the string of top ten hits that followed (1972 ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

singer, songwriter, and minister, was born Albert Leornes Greene in Dansby, Arkansas, the sixth of ten children of Robert Greene, a sharecropper, and Cora. During slavery the Greene ancestors were owned by the Benton family; after emancipation the Greene descendants continued to work the land of their former owners under an economic arrangement known as crop lien, which promised the workers a share of profits that rarely materialized. Shortly after Al's birth, his family moved into a two-bedroom shack in nearby Jacknash, Arkansas, with the hope that a new field would produce more profitable corn, cotton, and soybeans than their old farm. Jacknash had two churches: Taylor's Chapel, a fiery Pentecostal congregation, and the slightly more subdued Church of the Living God. Green's parents were very religious and attended both.

Music was the most constant influence during Green s formative years it was heard around the ...

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Al Greene was born into a large family of sharecroppers in Forrest City, Arkansas, and at age nine formed in a gospel quartet with three of his brothers, The Green Brothers. Green always enjoyed secular music, however, and when he turned sixteen, formed his first pop group in Michigan, where his family had moved. In 1967 he released “Back Up Train,” which became a minor hit.

Green's career gained momentum in 1969, when he met producer Willie Mitchell, who signed him to Hi Records in Memphis, Tennessee. Their partnership resulted in an innovative new Soul Music sound featuring spare instrumentation muted guitar simple horns and backbeats accompanied by Green s quiet but insistent vocals lyrically searching for the possibilities of love and often taking off into wild falsettos Though quieter than the so called Stax sound Green s music was complex and a popular and welcome ...

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Rob Bowman

musician, songwriter, producer, and actor, was born in Covington, Tennessee, to unknown parents. Before Hayes had turned two, his father had left the family home and his mother had passed away in a mental institution. Hayes was raised by his maternal grandparents, who sharecropped for a living until, at the age of seven, Hayes, his sister, and his grandparents moved to Memphis. Over the next several years, Hayes lived in a variety of places in North Memphis. Impoverished, at times the family had to split up, and at the worst point Hayes was sleeping in junk cars at a garage.Largely a self taught musician during and immediately following his school years Hayes apprenticed with a number of ensembles that variously worked the school amateur hour and nightclub circuit singing doo wop and gospel and playing blues and jazz saxophone and rhythm and blues piano Upon ...