Soul and Motown #12

Soul and Motown
• “Soul” in music is like love: you know when it is there, and
you know when it is not.
• Soul ain’t nothin’ but a feelin’
– Wilson Pickett
• For a singer, soul is total vocal freedom
– Don Covay
• I am not a blues singer or an R & B singer, I’m a soul
singer. We go into the studio without anything prepared,
just record what come out. That’s soul—, the way you feel.
– Otis Redding
• Soul to me is a feeling, a lot of depth and being able to
bring to the surface that which is happening inside. It’s
just the emotion, the way it affects other people
– Aretha Franklin
What is Soul?
• A description of a
specific style of music
• The Combination of R
& B with Gospel
– The allowance of the
singer to perform with
innermost feelings
• Came from the black
southern church
– At the same time the
sacred and secular were
pulling apart, the music
was combining.
Northern Migration
• Started in the Delta south, moved north during
the 20’s to the 40’s.
• The black culture went to industrial centers in
search of work.
– By 1943, Detroit had an influx of 200,000 people
• Began the new “blues’ movement
– Electric blues, urban blues, and R & B
– It was almost happy, up-tempo, aggressive, and
– Gospel singers moved north as well
• Black recording labels formed to record these
new sounds
• Alan Freed (rock and roll) began playing these
recordings in the early 50’s
– These recordings went on the influence the early RnR
artists, including Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little
Early Groups
• Inspired by these
recordings, groups
began to form
– Gathered, rehearsed,
and performed in the
– Often started as church
– Close harmonies
– Became the ‘Doo-Wop’
• Sam Cooke was one of
the earliest soul stars
– Workin’ on the chain
Ray Charles
• Heavily influenced by the
church at an early age.
• “You went to church every Sunday, so
naturally I was around church music.
The preacher would say a couple of
lines and then the church would sing
what he said. It was very ad-lib”
• Ray’s early music was adlibbed secular words over
gospel melodies.
– I got a woman
• “a vocal that bounced
between the bedroom and
the blessed”
– With “What I’d say”, Ray
successfully brought the
fiery combination of
gospel and R & B to the
national market.
• It was Soul music!
Aretha Franklin
• Reverend C.L. Franklin was
known as the Man with the
Million-Dollar Voice.
– Pastor in Detroit, Michigan
– His sermons were
recorded under Chess
• Aretha, greatly involved in
the church began recording
at age 17
• Tried to be a pop singer in
the early 60’s, did poorly
• Aretha was urged to try
singing in the ‘Soul’ style
– Her first album did well
– ‘Respect’ became her first
and only #1 hit
Lady Soul
• Went on to have several
hits, won grammy awards
8 years in a row.
• Popular with both the black
and white community
• Aretha was very
professional and business
• Was the Atlantic top artist
for most of the 60’s
• Went gospel in 72’
– Was accused of selling
out, similar to Dylan and
• Considered one of the
most important artists on
the music Scene.
James Brown
• James Brown is considered the second most
important Soul artist
• Called the ‘Godfather of Soul’
Soul Brother Number 1
Mr. Dynamite,
The Hardest Working Man in Show Business
Mr. Sex Machine
• The exact opposite of Aretha
– Aretha: Good Vocal Control, good pitch and control,
Clear and strong, remarkable range
– James: raspy and strong, shouts a raw basic vocal line
– Aretha: Complicated music sophisticated chord
– James: simple and basic
– Aretha: Shy and introverted
– James: Flamboyant, egotistical, and aggressive; he
thrives in the spotlight
James Cont.
• Born in 33’ in Augusta,
• Naturally musical from an
early age.
– Taught himself keyboards,
drums, and bass
• Arrested in 49, sent to jail
for three and a half years
for breaking into an
• Began recording in the
50’s, didn’t make it big
until getting signed by
King Records in the 60’s
• Toured with a group of 40
singers and dancers,
developed an
overpowering stage act
The James Brown Show
• Programmed down to the last detail
– Musicians were fired if they missed a note
• His dancing became a model for musicians
like Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson.
• At the end of his show, with sweat pouring
off his face, he would launch into “Please,
Please, Please,” sinking to his knees and
appearing to collapse prostrate on the
• Several of his band members would help
him off the stage, draped in a colorful
cape; but he would always return! He
would do this several more times until the
crowd was in a frenzy!
James goes on...
• In the 60’s his voice
began to strain,
becoming rawer.
• Came out with his two
biggest hits in 65’
– Papa’s Got a Brand
New Bag
– I feel Good
• Performed for 3
million concertgoers,
and sold fifty million
• Between 67’ and 72’
put thirty songs in the
top 40
The James Brown Legacy
• Toured Africa, people
had his records even
without electricity.
• Owned 500 suits, 300
pair of shoes,
diamonds and cars, a
personal jet, and a
funky home in
• His Ego is legendary
• Walked the edge of
politics, was influential
with the black
movements of the
James Concluded
• Had personal
problems in the
– Son died
– Reached bottom in
• Had several arrests
for drinking and
domestic violence.
• Still considered one
of the most
influential artists of
all time.
Berry Gordy
• In 53’, Berry Gordy Jr. opened his 3-D
record Mart in Detroit and tried to
specialize in a jazz-oriented inventory.
• Kids kept asking for the music of Fats
Domino and the early doo-wop groups.
• His Store closed in 55
• In 60’ Gordy borrowed $700 to start his
own record company (Tamla Records)
• One of the first Artists was Smokey
Robinson, who recorded a hit for them.
• Motown began in a blue-trimmed white
frame house in Detroit. The recording
studio was the size of a living room.
• In 60’ Detroit had the
fourth largest black
population in the U.S.
• If artists wanted to record,
they had to go out of
• Gordy got a lot of this
business for Tamla
(motown) records
• As segregation began to
break down, Gordy strove
to bring black artists to the
top of all charts, not just
the R & B charts.
• He began signing artists
and creating a new sound,
with his absolute control at
the wheel.
Smokey Robinson
• The first real Motown find,
Smokey was a talented
songwriter .
• Smokey and his group
“The Miracles” auditioned
for Gordy in the preMotown days.
• Smokey’s earliest hits
helped put Motown on the
• Smokey became one of the
important building blocks
for the new recording
– He wrote many songs
for the other groups in
– I second that emotion
Female Groups
• The first was the
– Please Mr. Postman
became Motown’s
first hit
• Another was
Martha and the
– Martha started as
the Motown
– Heat Wave
Marvin Gaye
• Originally not from
• Played organ in his
fathers church in D.C.
• Toured with the
Miracles at first, put
out a solo album in
• Put 17 songs in the
top 40 by himself, and
a dozen more doing
duets with other
motown performers.
• Gaye’s biggest hit
was “I heard it
through the
Marvin’s troubles
• Troubles began for
Marvin in the late 70’s
– Bitter divorce with
Anna Gordy Gaye
(Barry’s sister, 17
years older then
– IRS Issues
– Drugs
– Bankruptcy
• Shot and killed by his
father at age 44
The H-D-H formula for
• Gordy hired Eddie Holland as a songwriter
and producer.
• Soon after he hired Eddie’s brother Brian
and Lamont Dozier to the Motown staff.
• Between 63’ and 67’ they produced the
bulk of the Motown Hits
– These four people, under Berry’s
guidance, had total control of the artists
and the music being produced.
– When these people left, it all but ended
The Routine
• Started with a 45 minute dancing routine, once set, never
to vary (compare to James Brown)
• Strict quality control
– Had a panel listen to the music and vote on its release
– Left nothing to chance
• Used one band, the Funk Brothers, for all the
instrumentation during recording. Wanted consistency
• Avoided controversial lyrics, kept it light
• Employed coaches for his artists
– Etiquette (how to get in and out of a car, makeup and hair,
how to walk, talk, and behave in public)
– Vocal
– Choreographer
• Oversaw artist finances, laid down conduct rules for tours
• Saw the group as a family
– Became a family when many of them became romantically
Four Tops and The
The Four tops had been singing
together since 50’s, Gordy
discovered them singing in a
– I can’t help myself
Probably the most popular of all
Motown groups was The
– They sang well, dressed well,
and danced!
Hits include:
– My Girl
– Papa was a rolling stone
Suffered personnel changes, ego
issues, drugs, alcohol, personal
issues, and suicide.
Continued despite this, went on
to win grammy’s, and make it
into the Rock and Roll hall of
Stevie Wonder
• In 60’ when Motown started
making it big, people began
flocking to the studio
• Among them was 10 year old
Steveland Morris.
– He amazed Gordy by playing
the piano, organ, drums, and
anything else he could find in
the studio.
• Recorded “Fingertips #2” for
Motown, became the studio’s
second #1
• It would launch him on to a
career whose singles charts
accomplishments would rank
him fourth in the history of rock
behind Elvis, the Beatles, and
Elton John.
Wonder’s full potential wasn’t
realized until the 70’s
When he wanted to leave
Motown, he used money he had
saved to set up his own forty
track studio.
Gordy made an unprecedented
offer. The company would
distribute his album and split
songwriting royalties fifty-fifty;
Wonder would do his own
production and have his own
publishing company.
His self produced albums
produced several hits.
– Higher Ground
– Superstition
Diana Ross and the
In the 60’s Diana Ross and the
Supremes were ranked 3rd in sales
(behind Elvis and the Beatles)
They are the only American group
to have five consecutive number 1
Stop! In the Name of Love
By the mid 60’s, the Supremes
were Motown’s biggest act.
Of course problems began to arise
– Diana began showing up arm in
arm with Gordy
• Became “The Act”
– One of the original members
– Diana left the group to pursue a
solo career
As a soloist, Ross went on to
become a major figure in the music
She appeared on television, Vegas,
and film.
Left Motown in 81’ for $20m