Soul music, that sweet soul music don’t you miss it? There is a lot to say about the intoxicating vibe that runs through your body when you hear Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” or how about your journey down memory lane when you hear “Voyage To Atlantis” by The Isley Brothers. The essence of soul music has definitely evolved over the years, however its metamorphosis has been one that many do not appreciate. It would be safe to say that over the years the industry has been on life support, waiting for the new transplant that will change everything to come.
R&B is still a driving force in the industry, but the formulaic and boring muck that is being served up to us on the radio daily lacks soul. The once arduous and willing task of writing and producing a song has been replaced by throwing a song together with a rap artist adding their adlibs. However, there is a balance after all, on the flip side of all of the darkness, there is a land where the anomaly exists and an abundance of pixie dust is not needed in order to create great tracks that are unheard of.
This other side that is whispered about, is the land of the underground. The underground, as it is known, is where independent artists are able to showcase their remarkable talent while bringing music aficionados the music that they crave. Instead of performing in impersonal arenas, these artists choose smaller venues like clubs and cafes to share their music. And being independent means taking full control of the reigns for their career. That includes, promotions, releasing CDs etc.
Chris Rizik Publisher of the popular Ann Arbor, Michigan based Soultracks.com, is one of the many staunch supporters of indie artists. The soul focused website covers news on the soul classic artists that we love, as well as the artists that are sure to become future classics. Chris states, “While many classic soul fans believe that those genres peaked in the 1970’s, there are many, many very talented singers, songwriters and musicians today.”
And that statement rings true, especially in the United States, where there are artists from every corner of the country writing and singing from the soul that do not get airplay. Another tireless supporter of the indie music scene is One Nation Under The Soul Shack (ONUTSS). Founded by Pam and Detrel, it is a New York based company that hosts listening parties and artist showcases. “Today’s secular and R&B music is not for grown folks who know and love real soul music. It is crystal clear as to who dominates the airwaves these days. And not to say that anything is wrong with this music, it’s just that there is so much more.” says Pam of ONUTSS. These three soul enthusiasts agree that there are many avenues for artists to take when looking for types of exposure, particularly word of mouth, working the U.K. scene and using the internet radio stations, magazines and dj’s etc at their disposal is the way to go.
There are many phenomenal indie artists to name, however, these four talented artists should definitely peak your curiosity. Sy Smith is a galactic soul treasure, who brings the soul and funk on her recent release Conflict. Never one for being boring, Sy keeps her vibe fresh and new on every release. She has also been featured for the past four seasons, as a back up singer on American Idol this woman is always on her grind.
Rahbi (pronounced Robbie), known as the Prince of Soul Glam, is a force to reckon with onstage. An infusion of Prince and James Brown seamlessly blend with his own style, making Rahbi’s shows a must see. Rahbi’s new live CD Raw Live is a taste of his spectacular glam show.
Taniq is a newlywed couple with a melodic love vibe. Their music is jazz, soul and love wrapped all in one; sexy scats and all can be found on their new album The Life & Times of Love. And then there is the Grammy winning producer and songwriter Gordon Chambers, who has written for everyone from Brownstone and Whitney Houston to Anita Baker. He is a contemporary Al Green, so seductive on Love Stories.
According to Detrel, “Soul music is alive and well. However, you must know the intricacies of searching for true musical treasures that lie within secret alcoves if you are seeking good music.” There are a bevy of social gatherings across the U.S., listening parties etc around the city of New York and beyond. It really is up to you to keep your calendar updated with the various dates. It is, as Detrel said, all about finding the readily available treasures, instead of waiting for them to come to you.
Cover photo of Sy Smith courtesy of: Revive Music