Neo Soul
Neo Soul, also known as Nu soul, is a marketing term for the sub-genre of contemporary R&B.  Individuals in this category of music tend to be well educated and use their poetic and artistic skills to teach the world about the Black experience.  When you say Neo Soul you must include Erykah Badu whose work encompasses elements of R&B, hip hop and jazz.  She is best known for her role in the rise of the neo soul, and for her eccentric, cerebral musical styling and sense of fashion. She is known as the "First Lady of Neo-Soul."  Other notables who fall under this genre are Sade, Maxwell and Jill Scott.

 

Erykah Badu is known as the "First Lady of Neo-Soul". Baduizm, Badu's highly acclaimed debut album debuted at #2 on the  charts. The lead single "On & On" reached #12. Badu received notice for her introspective lyrics and jazzy, bass-heavy sound, and was hailed as one of the leading lights of the burgeoning neo soul genre. Her sophisticated style of singing drew many comparisons to Billie Holiday. Baduizm eventually went triple platinum and, along with "On & On," won Grammy Awards at the 1998 ceremonies.

 

Sade, born Helen Foasade Adu, first achieved success as the frontwoman and lead vocalist of the popular Grammy Award winning  group Sade.   Her debut album, Diamond Life went platinum off the strength of the Top 10 singles "Smooth Operator" and "Hang on to Your Love." Her second album, Promise, featured "Never As Good As the First Time" and arguably her signature song, "The Sweetest Taboo." In 1986, Sade won a Grammy for Best New Artist. 1988's Stronger Than Pride featured her first #1 soul single "Paradise.," Love Deluxe continued the unbroken streak of multi-platinum Sade albums, spinning off the hits "No Ordinary Love," "Feel No Pain," and "Pearl."

 

Maxwell played an important role in the development of the subgenre of neo-soul music. Heavily inspired by the sound of classic soul music, Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite, featuring "Ascension (Don't Ever Wonder)", sold over 500,000 copies, earning gold status, and was nominated for a Grammy Award.  Maxwell's second studio album, Embrya, was released in 1998. The following year, Maxwell released "Fortunate", a single written by R. Kelly and featured on the soundtrack for the 1999 film Life. To date, "Fortunate" is Maxwell's most successful single, and was Billboard's number one R&B single of 1999.

 

Eric Benét released his True to Myself, in fall 1996. Individual songs from the album were successful, including the top-ten R&B hit "Spiritual Thang" and "Let's Stay Together." His next album, A Day in the Life, was released in 1999. Its first single, "Georgy Porgy" received significant airplay, but the second single, "Spend My Life With You", rose to #1on the American R&B charts, was certified gold, and nominated for a 2000 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group. The album, A Day in the Life also won a Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Album, Male.

 

Jill Scott is a singer-songwriter, poet, and actress.  Her debut album, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1 was released in 2000. She experienced some chart success and notice with the single "A Long Walk", which eventually earned her a Grammy nomination in early 2003 for Best Female Vocal Performance. Scott lost that award, but won a 2005 Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative R&B Performance for "Cross My Mind."  Scott's second full-length album, Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2, followed in 2004.  Her third studio album, The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3, was released in 2007. She has won three Grammy Awards.