Recording Studios: Booker T. & the M.G.’s also played on the records of Otis Redding, Stax’s biggest star. Otis had a strong voice that was perfect for up-tempo soul, but he could also use a softer voice in romantic soul ballads. His dynamic performances on the Stax European tour and at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 made him a huge star worldwide with hits like I’ve Been Loving You Too Long and Respect. His greatest song was his last recording (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay. Like Sam Cooke three years earlier, Otis never saw the release of his greatest song. He died in a plane crash in December 1967, just three weeks before its release. His death shocked the world, but Stax survived and artists like Isaac Hayes and The Staple Sisters continued to release classic soul records.
Recording Studios: Memphis Soul
The Memphis soul produced at Hi Records was some of the most beautiful soul music ever made. House band the Hi Rhythm Section provided a solid beat and a funky feel to which house producer Willie Mitchell added strings, horns and backing singers to create a rich soul sound. Hi Record’s biggest star Al Green had many crossover hits in the early 70s including Let’s Stay Together and Call Me. He also recorded the gospel-soul classics Take Me To The River and Love and Happiness.
Other soul artists from the South include Aretha Franklin, who brought female gospel styles to soul music in the mid-60s, and Percy Sledge, whose 1966 single When a Man Loves a Woman became one of soul’s biggest-selling records. Both these artists, as well as many others, recorded some of their best music with a group of soulful white session musicians called the Swampers at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
Recording Studios: Soul Music’s Influence
Soul music led to many later genres, including funk, hip hop and contemporary R&B. Funk developed when soul artists like James Brown and Stevie Wonder began extending the rhythmic grooves in their soul music. Hip-hop developed when DJs in the late-70s began rapping over soul and funk grooves, and contemporary R&B developed from the music of artists like Al Green and Aretha Franklin. Contemporary R&B artists like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey became some of the biggest-selling artists of all time, while more recent singers like Mary J. Blige, Beyonce Knowles and Macy Gray are also very popular. Other styles that have developed from soul include neo soul and modern British soul. Major artists in these styles can be found in the listing below.