Memphis soul music started in Tennessee with the creation of a white owned company called Stax Records.  Out of that stable came one of the first racially integrated bands Booker T & the MGs.  Other bits of Memphis soul included performers like Otis Redding and Sam & DaveAl Green shot to the top of the charts with his second album after he signed onto Hi Records out of Memphis. The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin was the first female artist inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and named the #1 Greatest Singer of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2008.  The roots of soul music grew much deeper with a group from Chicago called The Chi-Lites.  Some of the best known soul groups were a part of the Sounds of Philadelphia family they included The Stylistics, Blue Magic, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes as well as the mighty, mighty The O’Jays. Jersey City gave us The Manhattans, while Washington, DC was melting hearts with Ray, Goodman & Brown as well as so many others. Bay Town, Texas gave us Joe Tex and Watts, California gave us The Whispers.   James Brown, as a song writer, band leader and singer was a pivotal force in the history of Black music in America.  He was known as Soul Brother Number One, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, and foremost, the Godfather of Soul. 
Booker T. & the M.G.'s are an instrumental soul band that were popular in the 1960s and 1970s. They were one of the first racially integrated bands, formed as the house band for Stax Records, and are often placed in the subgenre of Memphis soul. They are probably best known for their 1962 hit instrumental "Green Onions" and for being members of the house band for many Stax/Volt performers. As originators of the unique Stax sound, the group was one of the most prolific, respected, and imitated of their era.
Otis Redding, often called the "King of Soul," is renowned for an ability to convey strong emotion through his voice. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (where he was inducted in 1989), Redding's name is "synonymous with the term soul, music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm and blues into a form of funky, secular testifying."  Redding died in a plane crash at the age of 26, one month before his biggest hit, "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay", was released.

Sam & Dave were a soul and R&B duo who performed together from 1961 through 1981. According to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Sam & Dave were the most successful soul duo, and brought the sounds of the black gospel church to pop music with their call-and-response records. These included "Soul Man", "Hold On, I'm Comin", "I Thank You", "When Something is Wrong with My Baby", "Wrap It Up", and many other Southern Soul classics.  Sam & Dave are members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame,the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and are Grammy Award and multiple Gold Record award winning artists.

Al Green rose to prominence in the '70s with his incomparable voice, full of falsetto swoops and nuanced turns of phrase. During 1972 and 1973, he placed six consecutive singles in the Top 10: “Let’s Stay Together,” “Look What You Done for Me,” “I’m Still in Love With You,” “You Ought to Be With Me,” “Call Me” and “Here I Am (Come and Take Me).” “Let’s Stay Together” topped the pop chart for one week and the R&B charts for nine.  In terms of popularity and artistry, Green was the top male soul singer in the world, voluntarily ending his reign with a move from secular to gospel music in 1979.

Aretha Franklin is commonly referred to as "The Queen of Soul". She has scored a total of 20 #1 singles on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart, two of which also became #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100: "Respect" and "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),. Since 1961, Franklin has scored a total of 45 "Top 40" hits. Aretha is one of the most honored artists by the Grammy Awards, with 20 Grammys to date, which include the Living Legend Grammy and the Lifetime Achievement Grammy. In 1987, Franklin became the first female artist to be entered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Chi-Lites, one of the most popular smooth soul groups of the early '70s, didn't hail from Philadelphia or Memphis, the two cities known for sweet, string-laden soul. Instead, they were from Chicago, a town better known for its gritty urban blues and driving R&B. The Chi-Lites had a lush, creamy sound distinguished by their four-part harmonies and layered productions. During the early '70s, they racked up 11 Top Ten R&B singles, ranging from the romantic ballads "Have You Seen Her" and "Oh Girl" to protest songs like "(For God's Sake) Give More Power to the People."

The Stylistics were one of the best-known Philadelphia soul groups of the 1970s. Of all their peers, the Stylistics were one of the smoothest and sweetest soul groups of their era. During the early 1970s, the band had twelve straight R&B top ten hits, including "You Are Everything", "Betcha by Golly, Wow", "I'm Stone in Love with You", "Break Up to Make Up", and "You Make Me Feel Brand New."


Blue Magic is often overlooked in discussions of the great Philly soul acts of the 70s, but the quintet was responsible for some of the most enjoyable smooth soul of that decade.  Blue Magic was formed in Philadelphia in 1973.  Blue Magic's debut album included "Look Me Up," an infectious stepper highlighted by Ted Mills' clear falsetto, and which created early comparisons with the Stylistics.  Real crossover success came in 1974 with "Sideshow," a now-classic Philly forlorn ballad that topped the Soul charts and made the Pop Top 10.

Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes were one of the most popular Philadelphia soul groups of the 1970s. The group's repertoire included soul, R&B, doo-wop, and disco. Despite group founder and original lead singer Harold Melvin's top billing, the Blue Notes' most famous member was Teddy Pendergrass, their lead singer during the success years at Philadelphia International.  This incarnation of the group, scored several major R&B hits. Among the Blue Notes' most important and successful recordings are love songs such as "If You Don't Know Me By Now," "I Miss You," "The Love I Lost" and "Don't Leave Me This Way," and socially conscious songs such as "Wake Up Everybody" and "Bad Luck."
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