The Coasters
Live at the Apollo
Stevie Wonder
Sam Cooke

R&B

Evolving out of jump blues in the late '40s, R&B laid the groundwork for rock & roll. R&B kept the tempo and the drive of jump blues, but its instrumentation was sparer and the emphasis was on the song, not improvisation. It was blues chord changes played with an insistent backbeat. During the '50s, R&B was dominated by vocalists like Ray Charles and Ruth Brown, as well as vocal groups like the Drifters and the Coasters. Eventually, R&B metamorphosed into soul, which was funkier and looser than the pile-driving rhythms of R&B. Soul came to describe a number of R&B-based music styles. From the bouncy, catchy acts at Motown to the horn-driven, gritty soul of Stax/Volt, there was an immense amount of diversity within soul. During the first part of the '60s, soul music remained close to its R&B roots. However, musicians pushed the music in different directions; usually, different regions of America produced different kinds of soul. In urban centers like New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, the music concentrated on vocal interplay and smooth productions. In Detroit, Motown concentrated on creating a pop-oriented sound that was informed equally by gospel, R&B, and rock & roll. In the South, the music became harder and tougher, relying on syncopated rhythms, raw vocals, and blaring horns. All of these styles formed soul, which ruled the black music charts throughout the '60s and also frequently crossed over into the pop charts. During the '60s and '70s, soul began to splinter apart -- artists like James Brown and Sly Stone developed funk; Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff initiated Philly soul with the O'Jays and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes; and later in the decade, danceable R&B became a mass phenomenon with the brief disco fad. During the '80s and '90s, the polished, less earthy sound of urban and quiet storm ruled the airwaves, but even then, R&B began adding stylistic components of hip-hop until -- by the end of the millennium -- there were hundreds of artists who featured both rapping and singing on their records.

R&B Artists Highlights grid list

The Coasters
The Coasters
Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke
Earth, Wind & Fire
Earth, Wind & Fire
Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson
Harold Melvin
Harold Melvin
The Isley Brothers
The Isley Brothers
Fats Domino
Fats Domino
Al Green
Al Green
The Impressions
The Impressions
The Platters
The Platters
Miguel
Miguel
The Temptations
The Temptations
The O'Jays
The O'Jays
Barry White
Barry White
The Drifters
The Drifters
Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson
Smokey Robinson
Smokey Robinson
Chic
Chic
Ruth Brown
Ruth Brown
Sam & Dave
Sam & Dave
The Supremes
The Supremes
Adrian Younge
Adrian Younge
Otis Redding
Otis Redding
Sly & the Family Stone
Sly & the Family Stone
Ray Charles
Ray Charles
Parliament
Parliament
Jackie Wilson
Jackie Wilson
Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin
Isaac Hayes
Isaac Hayes
Curtis Mayfield
Curtis Mayfield
Wilson Pickett
Wilson Pickett
Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye
Anderson .Paak
Anderson .Paak
The Four Tops
The Four Tops
Solomon Burke
Solomon Burke
Babyface
Babyface
James Brown
James Brown
Luther Vandross
Luther Vandross
Jerry Butler
Jerry Butler
The Chi-Lites
The Chi-Lites
Booker T. & the MG's
Booker T. & the MG's
Dionne Warwick
Dionne Warwick
Lloyd Price
Lloyd Price
Ben E. King
Ben E. King
Commodores
Commodores
Usher
Usher
The Shirelles
The Shirelles

R&B subgenres and styles [+]