Soul Music of the 70s

Classic soul music is a genre of popular music that originated in the United States in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

It combines elements of African-American gospel music, rhythm and blues, and often jazz. Soul music became popular for dancing and listening in the United States, where record labels such as Motown, Atlantic and Stax were influential during the Civil Rights Movement.

Soul also became popular around the world, directly influencing rock music and other genres.

Classic soul music artists include Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Temptations, Diana Ross and the Supremes, The Four Tops and Curtis Mayfield. classic soul songs include “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke, “Respect” by Aretha Franklin, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding, “.

The greatest classic soul albums of all time

There are many classic soul albums that have stood the test of time and remain popular today. These are a few of the greatest classic soul albums of all time.

One classic soul album that remains popular today is “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye. Released in 1971, this album tackles social issues such as the Vietnam War and racism. The album is noted for its lush production and soulful vocals.

Another classic soul album is “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You” by Aretha Franklin. Released in 1967, this album helped Franklin cross over into the mainstream. The album features some of her most iconic songs, such as “Respect” and “Chain of Fools.”

A third classic soul album is “In the Groove” by Stevie Wonder. Released in 1968, this album features some of Wonder’s most well-known songs, including “I Wish” and “For Once in My Life.” The album was a commercial and critical success, cementing Wonder’s place as one of the most successful soul artists of all time.

These are just a few of the classic soul albums that have stood the test of time. These albums remain popular today due to their soulful vocals, classic production, and social commentary.

Another way classic soul music remains popular today is through soul radio stations. These stations play classic soul songs and help keep the genre alive. In addition, these stations often feature interviews with classic soul artists, giving listeners a chance to hear about the making of the albums and the stories behind them.

Classic soul music remains popular today through live concerts. Many classic soul artists continue to tour and perform their hits. This gives fans a chance to see their favorite artists in person and keeps the music alive.

Classic soul music also known as rhythm and blues remains known through online videos. There are many classic soul songs that have been uploaded to YouTube and other video sharing websites. This gives fans a chance to listen to their favorite songs whenever they want.

Classic Soul music has stood the test of time.

Soul Music has been one of the most influencing genres in musical history. Even though soul songs first started emerging in the 1950s, popularity surged during the 1960s and 1970s.

Not only did this style take off like a rocket during this time period, it also acted as the catalyst for the creation of sub-genres, such as Motown style (pop-friendly), southern soul, and Memphis soul (both nurtured by Stax Records).

Many popular artists today still use soul music as a guide,.

We cannot forget the amazing legacies that helped push this style to become as popular as it did.

Muscles Shoals Sound Studios, Motown, and Stax Records. There have been numerous smaller record labels but these in particular held the hands of many famous soul music of the 70s artists who had major musical impacts.

Each of these three record labels guided and supported many soul music artists of their time and shaped the future of music.

Muscle Shoals

Starting with Muscles Shoals, founded by Rick Hall and a four-man musician group called “The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section in 1969 (same year as the first moon landing!) is a soul music legacy.

This group was actually the first musical group to own their own studio and run their own production company. Unfortunately, the studio closed in 2005, ending their musical journey.

However, in 2006 the studio was recognized as a historic place and transformed into a music museum. It opened as a tourist attraction in 2017. But before the closure of Muscles Shoals, during their successful period of time they represented artists such as:

Aretha Franklin –
“Queen” title goes to Aretha Franklin, who is commonly known as the “Queen of Soul”. Aretha earned her title because she had one of the most successful careers in all of music history. She first signed with Columbia Records in 1960, switched to Atlantic Records in 1967 and then made her way to Muscle Shoals, where she garnered a big hit album called “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)”.

There are many other famous artists who have recorded at Muscle Shoals, such as:

•   Willie Nelson
•   Lynyrd Skynyrd
•   Joe Cocker
•   Rod Stewart
•   Cat Stevens


Founded in 1960 by Berry Gordy Jr., Motown was the place many soul music artists went to make it big. In fact, Motown is considered the most successful soul music label. In the 1960s, Motown released 79 records and had a net worth of $61 million. In a ten-year span, from 1961 to 1971, Motown had 110 songs listed on the top 10 record list. Crazy right?

Motown typically focused on a more “pop-friendly” style of soul music. They even trademarked their own style which they called “The Motown Sound”. Some of the famous musical artists Motown represented were:

Marvin Gaye – Marvin is known as the Prince of Motown. His music helped form Motown’s sound branding in the 1960s. The first big musical hit that he created at Motown was “Stubborn Kind of Fellow,” which was released in 1961. Marvin was Motown’s best-selling artist in in the 1960s and 1970s.

In 1987, he was added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his undeniable contribution to Motown sound. It’s no wonder why he is considered the Prince!

Stevie Wonder -Talking about wonder, another famous artist that Motown represented is the one and only Stevie Wonder. Stevie was only 11 years only when he first signed to Motown, singing his own composed song called “Lonely Boy”.

By the time Stevie hit age 13, he became the youngest musical artist to ever make the top charts. Like Marvin, Stevie was also a best-selling artist, selling over 100 million records and winning 25 Grammy awards.

marvin gaye
Soul Songs

Gladys Knight – The “Empress of Soul”! Gladys and her group called “Gladys Knight and the Pipes” signed to Motown in 1966, where big musical hits were created. Notable songs she made were “Friendship Train” and “Neither One of Us”, which the group received a Grammy for. Fun fact: in 1968, Gladys was the very first person who suggested Motown to sign “The Jackson Five”.

Stax Records

Another major player was Stax Records. This label was founded in 1957 and orginally named Satellite Records. It wasn’t until 1961 when the name changed to Stax Records. The studio was actually a revamped movie theatre. Because of the uneven, sloped floors of the studio, it gave the musical recording a different and distinctive sound. Die-hard soul fans can typically tell if a song was recorded at Stax Records.

Their most successful year was 1967, when they had multiple signings and were growing in fame. However, Stax Records was unfortunately forced into bankruptcy and closed down for good in 1976. But during their successful times, some of the big stars they signed were:

Johnnie Harrison Taylor – Johnnie signed with Stax in 1966 and is known as the “Philosopher of Soul”. One of his top hits was “Who’s Making Love”, which ended up selling more than one million copies worldwide. During his time at Stax, he had an array of successful hits.

He is also known for keeping Stax afloat after one of their big artists died, Otis Redding. Johnnie did so well, that he was given a gold disc award from the Recording Industry Association of America in 1973.

Isaac Hayes – Isaac was heavily involved with Stax. He not only recorded at Stax, he was also one of the record producers for the label. He was an incredible songwriter as well, with the song “Soul Man” being one of the top influential songs recognized by the Grammy Hall of Fame. As a result from his successful history, Isaac was added to the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was also honored the Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) icon in 2003 during the Urban Awards for his incredible influence on future musical artists. In total, Isaac received five BMI icon awards.

Rufus Thomas – Rufus was one of the first artists signed to the Stax label. Before signing with Stax in the 1960s and 1970s, he was previously signed with many other labels, such as Chess Records and Sun Records. One of his first recordings at Stax was a duo effort with his 17-year-old daughter Carla. Some of his other big hitters that he recorded at Stax were “Can Your Monkey Do the Dog” and “Somebody Stole My Dog”. Rufus comically referred to himself as “the funkiest man alive”.

Additional artists who signed with Stax include:

•   Otis Redding - Otis was actually signed to Volt, which was one of Stax’s subsidiary labels.
•   Sam and Dave
•   Carla Thomas 

A majority of fans agree that the soul music of the 70s is the sweet spot or the Golden Age. The quality of music from that era was astounding! Marvin Gaye alone was truly phenomenal. The creativity that took place during this time period resulted in incredible music, which helped pave the way to the creation of popular music today. Without our influential 70s RnB music ancestors and the record labels that guided them, who knows how music would have been different in the world.

The Coastal Carolinas and Virginia adopted this style of music now known as Beach.

Classic Soul

A genre of popular music that originated in the United States from African American communities in the Deep South of the United States. It combines elements of African-American gospel, blues, and jazz.

Soul music became popular for dancing and listening in the United States, where record labels such as Motown, Atlantic and Stax were important in the 1960s. Soul also became popular around the world during this time and into 70’s soul thanks to Four Tops, Temptations, Supremes, and Marvin Gaye.

Soul music of the 70s is characterized by strong rhythms, vocal styles that range from melodic to aggressive, and heavy use of brass instruments. The term “soul” derives from the soul jazz style of jazz music.

The term “rhythm and blues” was coined by record companies to describe the type of rock-and-roll music they marketed to African Americans beginning in 1954.

70s RnB music was influenced by gospel music; rhythm and blues; jazz; funk; and Latin American music such as Cuban son montuno. 70s Soul also became associated with political activism during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.

—Artists such as James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and Otis Redding are legends in Classic Soul music.

classic soul music of the 70s
classic soul music of the 70s