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History of Pop Music. Rhythm & Blues. Origins. Rhythm and Blues was the description given to music that was primarily marketed to African-Americans during the 1940s . R & B is a term that has been used to describe different types of music over the years. 1940s & 1950s: Blues

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History of pop music

History of Pop Music

Rhythm & Blues


  • Rhythm and Blues was the description given to music that was primarily marketed to African-Americans during the 1940s.

  • R & B is a term that has been used to describe different types of music over the years.

    • 1940s & 1950s: Blues

    • 1960s: Motown & Soul

    • 1970s: Soul & Funk

    • 1980s-Present: Soul & hip hop

  • R & B used to be called “race” music until 1948 at which point it was deemed offensive and changed.

  • Early R & B sounded very similar to early rock n’ roll and at times was basically synonymous.

  • Early artists include: Lloyd Price, Solomon Burke, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, and Nat King Cole Sam Cooke

Lloyd Price

Fats Domino

Ray Charles

Nat King Cole

Doo wop
Doo Wop

  • Type of music that developed during the 1950s and 1960s in Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago.

  • Based around vocal harmonies.

  • Important Doo Wop groups included:

    • Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, The Platters, The Penguins, The Ink Spots, The Drifters, and the Five Satins


  • Motown was founded by Berry Gordy in 1960 in Detroit, MI.

  • The first artist signed to Motown was Smokey Robinson & the Miracles.

  • Between 1961 and 1971, Motown had 110 top 10 hits.

  • Motown boasted a stable of artists greater than any other, the list includes all of the following:

    • The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Jackson 5, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Mary Wells, The Spinners, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Jr. Walker, Lionel Ritchie, Rick James, Boys II Men, Erykah Badu.

Memphis soul
Memphis Soul

  • While Berry Gordy was recording in Detroit, a number of artists were creating great music in Memphis, TN.

  • The two main record labels were Stax and Hi Records.

  • The sound was a little rougher than Motown, complete with horns and saxophones.

  • The Memphis artists include the following:

    • Otis Redding, Rufus & Carla Thomas, Sam & Dave, Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Booker T. & the MGs, The Staple Singers, Wilson Pickett

Other important artists of the 60s 70s
Other Important Artists of the 60s & 70s

  • Soul music became more important than just music, it united people in a way that other music did not.

  • Artists came from all corners of the United States, including Chicago, Philadelphia, NYC, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and other major cities.

  • Some of the major artists of this era include:

    • Aretha Franklin (Queen of Soul)

    • James Brown (Godfather of Soul)

    • Curtis Mayfield

    • Sly & the Family Stone, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Barry White, The Isley Brothers, Etta James, Archie Bell & the Drells, Ike & Tina Turner, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Parliament Funkadelic, Teddy Pendergrass, & Gil Scot-Heron.

Michael jackson prince the 1980s
Michael Jackson, Prince, & the 1980s

  • R & B’s popularity hit a new high in the 1980s due to the unrivaled popularity of Michael Jackson, Prince, and Whitney Houston.

    • Prince video

  • The creation of MTV in the early 1980s turned many R & B artists into even bigger sensations.

  • Other artists who enjoyed popularity during the 1980s:

    • New Edition/Bobby Brown

    • Luther Vandross

    • Janet Jackson

    • Rick James

    • Teena Marie

    • Cameo

1990s r b
1990s R & B

  • Artists from the 1980s still continued to dominate the charts during the 90s (MJ, Prince, Janet)

  • New artists began to emerge during the 1990s that would become major forces in popular music. (Mariah Carey, Usher, TLC, R. Kelly, Aaliyah)

  • 90s R & B had many different styles and faces:

    • Neo-Doo Wop (Boys II Men, Shai)

    • Smooth (R. Kelly, Keith Sweat)

    • Hip Hop (Mary J. Blige, SWV)

    • Neo-Soul (Maxwell, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Angie Stone, Jill Scott)

R b today
R & B Today

  • R & B still dominates the radio stations, clubs, and youth culture.

  • Some recent artists have had crossover success with the general public. (Destiny’s Child/Beyonce, Usher, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Ne-Yo, John Legend)

  • Other artists have pushed R & B into different more adventurous areas (Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, How to Dress Well, & Miguel)