Soul Types

There is no doubt about it Soul music originated in the United States of America (USA). It is a combination of the Blues, Rhythm and Blues (R&B), Gospel and Jazz. Some would say it is the evolution of the “Black” experience in the USA. Gospel and R&B are the driving forces behind the Soul sound and many of its artists started out in Gospel before migrating to Secular music. Examples of this are Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Little Richards, Aretha Franklin, Patti Labelle and the list goes on. Early Soul artist the pioneers to say were artists like Sam Cooke, James Brown, Ray Charles, Clyde Macphatter, Johnny Ace, Little Richard, Etta James, Little Eva and Esther Phillips.

James Brown

A lot of my reference sources estimate that the fusion of R&B and Gospel started in the late 1950s in the Southern USA and was mostly played on Black radio stations, with several songs crossing over to mainstream America by being covered by white artists like Pat Boone and others.

As the Soul sound progressed and spread to other areas of the USA, it also evolved but stayed true to its R&B roots. There was an explosion of diversity within the genre and different studios helping to push the sound of their particular region, especially in the 1960s. You had Atlantic Records with acts like the Clovers, Ray Charles, Clyde Macphatter, Wilson Pickett and the Drifters; the Motown Sound out of Detriot with acts like the Temptations, the Supremes, Martha and the Vandelas, Marvin Gaye, Tina Charles and Rare Earth. You had Stax/Volt out of Memphis Tennessee with acts like Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Booker T and the MGs, Mel & Tim, Rufus and Carla Thomas. Northern Soul from cities like New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.
There are many different types of Soul music, including, but not limited to: Southern Soul, which is driving and energetic; Memphis soul, a shimmering and sultry style; New Orleans soul that leans more to R&B; Detroit style, a rhythmic, pop, centre of the road style; Chicago soul, which has a lighter gospel influence; Philadelphia soul, which is a lush orchestral sound with do-wop inspired vocals; Neo and Psychedelic Soul (which paved the way for Funk music in the 1960s, that are a blend of psychedelic rock and soul music; as well as Blue-Eyed Soul, British Soul, and Northern soul, rare soul music played by DJs at nightclubs in Northern England.

What is your favourite type of soul music? Write you comments below or send them to me at


1.Liner notes from my own collection,

2.The Definition of Soul (An Origin of the Genre) by Mark Edward Nero

3.Wikipedia “Soul Music” .


This article has 6 Comments

  1. Hi Harvey. You have an interesting post regarding the soul types of music. I’ve always thought that Soul music music originated in the USA as I don’t know too many soul singers outside of the country. I didn’t know that there were different genres of soul music as well. Since I’m more of that “old-school” type of person that likes to listen to the music of the past esp. hip-hop + r&b, I’ll come to your page to find out more of the different types of soul music out there.


    1. Hello Armand, thank you for your review. Each type of soul has a distinctive sound, especially “Blue-Eyed” and British soul. Over the next few months I will add more information about the recording labels and the artists that are associated with the different types. Thanks agai

  2. at “old-school” type of person that likes to listen to the music of the past esp. hip-hop + r&b, I’ll come to your page to find out more of the different types of soul music out there.

    1. Hello Kali, if you want soul music that would put you in a relaxed mood I would recommend what is called Quiet Storm or ballads. I cannot really suggest websites per se, but I can recommend artists, that you can search on iTunes and download songs by them or even go to YouTube and do the same:
      Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, The Dells, The Delfonics, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, The Impressions, Tyrone Davis. There are a few to get started with. If you like what you hear and want to explore more. Just contact me and we will see where you go from here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *