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Gospel, Soul and Motown
Born in 1942, Aretha was the daughter of a Baptist minister. She originally sang in a relatively controlled jazz style until 1966 when she signed with Atlantic Records. In 1967, ‘Respect’ was her first major hit followed by many others including ‘Chain of fools’, ‘(You make me feel like) a natural woman’, ‘I say a little prayer’ and, in the early 1980s, ‘Hold on, I’m coming’.
Aretha’s powerful and acrobatic vocal style has made her one of the greatest and most influential vocalists popular music has produced.
Became known for their raunchy soul review and late 1960s recordings including the Phil Spectorproduced ‘River deep, mountain high’(1966). Virtually ignored in the USA, they initially became very popular in Britain and supported the Rolling Stones on tour in 1969.
Tina Turner later became a successful artist in her own right with hits such as ‘Nutbush City limits’ (1973) and ‘What’s love got to do with it’(1984). One of the most respected artists in rock, Tina Turner is not only known for her raunchy vocals and appearance but also her durability, determination and congenial nature.
Based in ‘motor town’, Detroit and formed by Berry Gordy Jr in 1960. Gordy’s team of songwriters, producers and choreographers moulded Motown artists (like the Supremes, above) into sophisticated, stylish performers. Strings and brass backing arrangements were often used in Motown productions. Artists included Smokey Robinsonand theMiracles, Marvin Gaye, Mary Wells, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Martha and the Vandellas, the Supremes, Stevie Wonderandthe JacksonFive with the young Michael Jackson.
In 1951 Sam Cooke was the lead vocalist in the gospel group The Soul Stirrers. With the release of his solo pop hit ‘You send me’ in 1957, Sam Cooke became an overnight star. Later hits were ‘Wonderful world’, ‘Bring it on home to me’ and ‘Chain gang’. After his untimely death in 1964, many rock-pop artists produced their own successful versions of his songs.
Sam Cooke’s pure, high pop/gospel vocal style was widely imitated. He successfully combined gospel music with secular themes and became one of America’s most popular vocalists of the 1960s.
It was his songs more than his recordings that were Sam Cooke’s legacy.
Born May 13, 1950
Saginaw, Michigan, USA.
Blind since birth, the twelve-year-old musical prodigyLittle Stevie Wonder topped the charts with his ‘Fingertips-Pt2’ (1963). Recording for Motown’s Tamla label, Stevie Wonder became a superstar in the 1970s and 1980s using musical styles from reggae, jazz, funk and soul. He has written and recorded many popular music standards such as ‘You are the sunshine of my life’, ‘Superstition’, ‘Sir Duke’, ‘My Cherie Amour’, ‘Isn’t she lovely’ and ‘Part-time lover’.
Not only is Stevie Wonder a master of many musical instruments and styles he is also a sophisticated composer and a synthesiser and studio pioneer.
STAX Records was set up in the early 1960s by JimStewart and EstelleAxtonto record soul artists in the Memphis area.Booker T. and the MGs (above) were the resident studio band which consisted of Booker T. Jones (organ), Steve Cropper (guitar), Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn (bass) and drummer Al Jackson. They had their own instrumental hits (‘Green Onions’, ‘Time is tight’), but were also responsible for backing other STAX artists like Otis Redding,Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett, Albert King, Eddie Floyd, and Rufusand Carla Thomas.