Soul music is something which Tunde Folawiyo loves to listen to; like many fans of this genre, he is probably familiar with New Orleans soul, a style greatly influenced by gospel music. It is believed to have been developed by a producer and composer named Allen Toussaint during the early sixties, but only became internationally popular after artists like Little Richard began to incorporate it into their music.
Born in New Orleans, Toussaint took an interest in soul music from a very young age, but it was only in 1960, when he was hired as a producer for a label called ‘Minit’, that his talent became apparent. Over the next five years or so, he began to develop the unique sound which would eventually become known as New Orleans soul. His first hit as a producer was the single ‘Ooh Po Pah Doo’, which was performed by Jessie Hill. Following this, he worked with a huge number of local soul singers, including Irma Thomas and Lee Dorsey.
Whilst, as mentioned above, this style was based on religious music, it was also strongly influenced by boogie-woogie, and sixties pop. Tunde Folawiyo, and other music fans, may know that guitars were a rarity in New Orleans soul performances; instead, musicians usually favoured the saxophone and the piano. The compositions themselves consisted of rock n’ roll rhythms, coupled with simple pop melodies which featured hints of gospel. As time went on, and this style became more well-known, musicians also began to use Latin and Caribbean rhythms in their pieces.
Although there were about 24 New Orleans soul singles which became national hits, this particular style did not gain the same recognition that others did, with many amazing pieces failing to make an impact on music fans outside of the city. However, New Orleans soul did influence many British Invasion bands, who not only performed covers of obscure singles, but also used the typical compositional features of this style for their own creations.
The development of this style is attributed to Toussaint; however, it was Little Richard who put New Orleans soul on the international map; this is something which both Sam Cookie and Otis Redding – soul music’s founding fathers – agreed upon. Fusing together gospel, New Orleans, R&B, and boogie-woogie with great skill, he became known for delivering his songs in an ecstatic manner, which his fans adored. One of his first hit singles, entitled Tutti Frutti, was amongst the first New Orleans soul songs to become an international hit.