Bandcamp: Seven UK Soul Artists Telling Their Stories in Song

When it first exploded in the 1960’s, soul music meant different things to different people. To some, it represented a “blasphemous” marriage between the church’s gospel music and the nightclub’s secular R&B. But to others, it was a powerful new vehicle for expressing both pain and pleasure. Aretha Franklin demanded “R.E.S.P.E.C.T” from men and society; Ray Charles scandalously sung of the pleasures of sex on “What’d I Say;” and Marvin Gaye lamented the loss of his first marriage on Here, My Dear, bringing a vulnerability to soul music that continues to influence its male artists today.

Across the pond in the UK, soul was almost as influential on Britain’s musicians as rock n’ roll. In its early days, the British take on the genre was popularly articulated by the platinum coiffed Dusty Springfield and the blue-eyed Tom Jones. But the ‘80s and ‘90s saw artists of color like Sade, Soul II Soul, and Omar making inroads into the pop charts. One needs to look no further than Amy Winehouse’s small but influential body of work to confirm Britain’s reputation as the second home of soul, not to mention the critically acclaimed work of artists like Laura Mvula, Lianne La Havas, and Andreya Triana. Mary J. Blige sought out the talent and eclectic spirit of British Soul for her 2014 album The London Sessions for a reason.

Today, UK Soul is as diverse as the country where it’s made, and the most compelling artists in the scene use the genre as a way to share both personal and political history. 

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