What’s good out there, family?
We see you standing tall. In the now times, when one mentions soul music, it takes a minute for them as casual listeners to think of the genre as something relatable to nostalgia.
In other words, the casual listener will begin to steadily understand that soul music is not just music of the past. It’s music for the right now as well.
As internet soul radio station operators and presenters, we do our best to keep the genre in the forefront of your minds.
Especially in this juncture of the 21st century.
With all of the above said this brings us to our topic of today—
Yes, the sound that was crafted by the legendary luminaries Berry Gordy, Jr. was instrumental in taking soul and r&b music to the mainstream.
Black music radio stations kept Motown in heavy rotation. That didn’t mean that other record labels were doing the same thing. With record labels like Stax, Chess, etc., lending their talents to the mix, it made for a great variety for the listeners.
This list is in no particular order; it’s just lending its ear to the fact that there were many artists that were as integral part soul music’s popularity that weren’t associated with Motown. Are we ready?
Long live the “Queen of Soul.” Aretha Franklin brought that great versatility that one would expect of her. She could write the song, play it, and sing it.
Billboard ranked Aretha as the 34th “Greatest Artist of All Time”, having sold more than
75 million albums worldwide (and counting).
The Queen of Soul did it all, especially during the time when the rise of some of her contemporaries were on the horizon. Nonetheless, Aretha Franklin’s resume’ in soul music would take too long to fill this article. Love and light to The Queen.
Natalie Cole was definitely right on time, in her time. She came along at the time Aretha Franklin was finding new traction during the turn of the 1970s.
Natalie came with another level of attitude and sassiness with her vocal style, as well as her stage presence. Natalie, brought a youthful exuberance with her style, something that would carry her throughout her career.
With 9 Grammy awards, over 30 million records (and counting) sold worldwide, and a spot in the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame, Natalie Cole undoubtedly wrote her own ticket in the annals of soul and r&b music.
The Mighty O’Jays are the staple of that wonderful time in the 1970s where one couldn’t go nowhere without hearing that TSOP- The Sounds of Philadelphia, also known as Philly International Records.
The spearheads of that great company, the incomparable production duo of Kenneth Gamble and Lamont Huff, along with the writing talents of the late, great Thom Bell and Linda Creed, and many others.
They crafted a sound that The O’Jays helped take to the stratosphere. Timeless songs like “Backstabbers”, “For the Love of Money” and “I Love Music”, as well as inductees into the Vocal Group, Rock and Roll, and Rhythm and Blues Halls of Fame, are big time reasons why The O’Jays are still relevant.
The Maestro! This man crafted his own lane, and kept it pushing. Despite the lack of push for his albums in the late 1970s into the early 1980s, Barry White still made quality music.
He would take a break from recording around 1983, and then reappear with solid LP’s from 1987 up until 1991.In the middle of this stage. He would appear as the closer on Quincy Jones’ “The Secret Garden”, along with Al. B. Sure, James Ingram, and El DeBarge.
This song would reach number one on the Billboard R&B charts in 1990, and this cut set the stage for the completion of Barry White’s comeback, 1994’s “The Icon Is Love” LP, which would end up being his first chart topper since his reign in the 1970s.
With over 100 plus million records sold, two Grammy Awards, and countless other awards, the legacy of “The Maestro” Barry White continues to shine.
Talk about staying power, and trooping onward. The Whispers have long been a testament to what soul and r&b are supposed to sound like.
The anchor leg of the late Dick Griffey’s SOLAR records, The Whispers have given us many soul music memories, plenty that continue on right now on many independent internet radio stations that spin r&b/soul music.
Even with three of the original five members still trooping onward (love and light Marcus and Nicholas), these Rhythm & Blues Hall of Famers continue to entertain audiences worldwide.
The velvet voice of the one, and only, Luther V. One cannot go anywhere and not hear Luther Vandross’ influence on a record.
If you’re a fan of soul/disco group, Chic’, then you’ve heard Luther Vandross’ background vocal arrangements. If you’ve heard some of Aretha Franklin’s records in the early 1980s, then you’ve heard the same background vocal arrangements done by Luther.
From his early incarnation of the band named after his namesake, to his work with the band Change, all the way through his solo works, Luther Vandross has never disappointed. If he were still with us, Luther would still be bringing the goods.
There would be no soul with this man here. Along with the equally legendary David Porter, they were a part of the driving force behind the legendary Stax Records.Both are members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Isaac Hayes himself is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The man known as “Black Moses” was the sustainer of the majority of the hits that came from Stax Records during most of the 1970s.Isaac Hayes’ scoring of the iconic film “Shaft” continues to influence generations some 50-plus years since its debut.
Earth, Wind & Fire
Is it now safe to say that these brothers are your favorite band’s favorite band? Here we are, in 2023, and the ride continues with Earth, Wind and Fire.
These brothers continue to bring folks out to see their shows, no matter what age or creed. Best believe you’re going to jam the whole night. Firmly established since 1969, and continuing on to this day.
The genius of the late, great Maurice White seems to always be present with the band. With over 90 million records sold worldwide, and countless awards that would take all day, the Elements of the Universe continue to influence the generations as long as the spirit allows.
Yep, continue to give Patti her flowers. Just like the aforementioned Natalie Cole and Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle walked to the beat of her own drum in the 1970s.
Be it with LaBelle (with Nona Hendrix and the late Sarah Dash) or solo, Patti gave us that work. Her work in the 1980s was straight fire.
With hits like “On My Own” with Michael McDonald, “If Only You Knew”, “Love, Need, & Want You”, etc..
Patti Labelle blazed a trail that has touched many souls. Even now, at 78, Patti continues to march onward in this soulful journey.
We cannot get away with not giving some love to one of the most iconic voices of the last 3 generations. Yvette Marie Stevens, aka Chaka Khan, has been giving us the goods since before a lot of us got into the world good.
With that said, Chaka has been delivering greatness, whether it was her time with iconic band Rufus, or solo.
With over 70 million records sold worldwide, 10 Grammys, and countless other awards to lie out, Chaka Khan continues to wow audiences in the here and now, even as she’s approaching 70 years young. The soul keeps on singing.
Like we stated before, this list is in no particular order, as these names were picked at random. Yet, in the grand scheme of things, all ten of these wonderful artists blazed trails, and influenced the next generations to come with their style, classiness, musicianship, showmanship, and great humility towards their craft.
Soul music will never go away. With the advent of internet radio, soul and r&b as we still know it will always be around. We are the vehicles that keep the aforementioned artists music alive and kicking, no matter the times.