Memphis Soul Music
DURATION: 45 minutes
Music was an important element in African American lives. This led to the development of new, distinct styles of music including blues, black gospel, and soul. African American Tennesseans, especially those from Memphis, were at the forefront. Many blues performers from the Mississippi Delta came to Memphis to perform.
Blues was one of many black styles that gained popularity during the 1950s. Before World War II, blues performers like Memphian Bukka White used acoustic instruments to record "race records" - designed for black listeners. After the war, electric guitars became widespread and gave the blues power. Artist B.B. King helped develop the new electrified sound. This also influenced white musicians who adopted the style. Racial barriers began to erode as black music was introduced to young white listeners.
However, soul music, a form that shared musical roots with gospel, was even more popular with the young. Memphis labels Stax and Hi Records created a group of successful soul musicians such as Marvin Gaye, Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett and Al Green. The Memphis soul industry competed vigorously with Detroit’s, although the Memphis style was considered more original.
A group of Memphis players, two black and two white, joined together to form a band that became known for backing (playing music behind) other singers. Booker T. and The MG's (Steve Cropper, Booker T. Jones, Donald Dunn and Al Jackson) provided a unique sound for Otis Redding, Rufus Thomas, Sam and Dave, Carla Thomas, and Wilson Pickett. They performed on more than 600 recordings at Stax and even produced their own hit song, an instrumental, "Green Onions."
One of greatest soul musicians was Otis Redding who began recording at Stax/Volt in 1963 and continued until his death in an airplane crash in 1968. Redding's greatest hit was released after his death, "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," co-written by Cropper. The song shot to number one on the charts and stayed there four weeks.
By 1968 the style began to mirror changes in the Civil Rights Movement, with themes becoming more male-centered. Isaac Hayes became a soul legend for singing such male-oriented tunes as “Shaft.” Hayes was a long time songwriter and arranger for Stax Records in Memphis, playing in the backup band for other performers. He began recording his own music in 1967 and had a hit with his “Hot Buttered Soul” album in 1969. Hayes recorded the theme for the Shaft movie in 1971. He won an Academy Award for best original theme song and then also won Grammy awards for the song.
While not as popular as in the 1960s and 1970s, soul music, much of which originated in Tennessee, remains popular today.
Objectives: Students will
Soul Learning Eduweb - http://www.soulsvilleusa.com/eduweb/
5.0.03.a. Identify significant examples of art, music, and literature from various periods in United States history.
Tennessee Social Studies Process Skills (http://state.tn.us/education/ci/ss/process_std.shtml):
National History Standards (http://nchs.ucla.edu/standards/era9-5-12.html):
Thinking Standards: STANDARD 2: Historical Comprehension
|5-12||I. Draw upon the visual, literary, and musical sources including: (a) photographs, paintings, cartoons, and architectural drawings; (b) novels, poetry, and plays; and, (c) folk, popular and classical music, to clarify, illustrate, or elaborate upon information presented in the historical narrative.|