The Southern states of the U.S.A. are steeped in a long history of music. African Americans have enriched that history, from ”negro spirituals” through to Blues, Jazz, R&B and Soul Music.
This writer’s first introduction to Soul was via the rasping vocals of the likes of Otis Redding and Wilson Picket back in the 1960s.
The Stax record company, based in Memphis Tennessee, and the Fame, and later, Muscles Shoals studios based in Muscles Shoals Alabama, launched a new wave of Rhythm and Blues across America and the rest of the world during those halcyon days that revolutionised popular music.
Singers, such as Pickett, Joe Tex, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Candi Staton, Bettye Swan, The Staple Singers and Millie Jackson cut some of their biggest hits in Muscle Shoals.
The Stax label provided an even greater legacy through artists such as Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Eddie Floyd, Booker T & the MGs, William Bell, Johnnie Taylor and many more.
The seventies brought singers like Al Green, Denise Lasalle, Tommy Tate, Luther Ingram, Ann Peebles, Dorothy Moore to the public eye; all based in the Southern States.
So what’s happening today? Veterans such as Lasalle, Floyd, Moore and Staton continue to wow their fans; but a new breed of Southern Soul artists have burst on the scene in recent years.
Artists such as Darryl Johnson, Alonzo Reid, Sweet Angel, MsCharli Creole Diva and Jerry Adams are proving to lovers of Soul Music that the South still has a lot to offer.
Joe Tex II, son of the aforementioned Soul legend, is continuing the legacy of his father’s classic work; Joe’s reworking of I Gotcha into a soulful ballad is a fine example that the Southern Soul sound is still alive.
Darryl Johnson, of the Detroit Memphis Experience, and former member of The Chairmen of the Board, has launched his solo career with a beautiful song entitled “Nightmare” that has broken through to the UK Soul Top 20.
Sweet Angel has been recording bluesy soulful original material, in the Denise Lasalle, Betty Wright vein since 2007. Her latest single, “Still Crazy For You” is attracting radio play both sides of the Atlantic.
Alonzo Reid paid his dues as a youngster, learning from such gospel acts as the Swan Silvertones before going on the road with the Pilgrim Jubilees of Chicago. Alonzo later played behind the likes of Shirley Caesar, The Mighty Clouds Of Joy and The Soul Stirrers before crossing over to Rhythm and Blues in 1997.
Having played drums and percussion for the late, great Marvin Sease for 14 years, Alonzo stepped up to the plate with his debut CD, "Undercover Freak" in 2011. Alonzo has just released his new single, "Three Wishes".
MsCharli currently has a new single, “Giddy Up” making waves, along with a clever Zydeco arrangement of the same song.
Jerry Adams, with a strong gospel background, and influenced by Motown giants , The Temptations and Marvin Gaye, is currently attracting a great degree of interest through his joint release of “Rock You” and a remake of the classic “My Girl”.
So, it is clear, that just from these few examples, Southern Soul IS alive and kicking!