The music of Soul and R&B's golden age is big business these days. Echoes of Motown, Stax-Volt, Atlantic and other labels can be heard everywhere through the influence of their artists--people like Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Otis Redding and Al Green to name a few. With the arrival and tragic early passing of Amy Winehouse, the retro-soul sound is in full swing as a dominant pop music trend. Veteran artists like Sharon Jones (whose band The Dap-Kings were pivotal in Winehouse's smash Back to Black) and singers like Duffy are enjoying great popularity.
Heartfelt homage or cynically derivative? Only your ears can decide. If you dig that classic soul sound and want to hear something new, check out these artists in the library's free music database, Freegal.
A click on any artist's name will take you right to the Freegal download page for that musician.
Ryan Shawopens a new window. Shaw reminds me a bit of Otis Redding, and his "Do The 45" sounds just like Junior Wells' "Shotgun" - in other words, an old-school dance floor hit.
Raphael Saadiqopens a new window. Stevie Wonder guests on a track with this smooth crooner.
Aloe Blaccopens a new window. Blacc's music features his sweet voice front-and-center, with influences from hip-hop, rap and 70s funk.
Cee Lo Greenopens a new window. Much of his work has a serious, urban hip-hop influence.
Adeleopens a new window. Ah, Adele. How could we ignore you? A phenomenon in her own right, Adele's voice has reached out across the globe to touch the heartbroken. If you've been living with tribesmen in Borneo for a year, it's time to discover what 750 gazillion people have been talking about.
John Legendopens a new window. R&B sound that is less retro, more modern, with hip-hop and reggae influences.
Eli "Paperboy' Reedopens a new window. Love this guy.
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kingsopens a new window. A rock 'n soul party!
Bonus recommendation: check out a legend you may have missed 50 years ago, the original Soul Stirrer, Sam Cookeopens a new window!