R & B, or Rhythm and Blues, is an African-American musical genre that originated in the 1940s. While its sound has transformed over the years, R&B’s millions of fans including Tunde Folawiyo continue to revel in its ability to inspire emotion. With soulful singing and a strong backbeat, R&B remains one of the most beloved musical genres today.
The 1920s and 1930s saw a migration of African Americans to major urban United States cities such as New York, Detroit and Chicago, prompting the birth of a musical genre boasting the rhythms of jazz and blues. Both of these placed a heavy emphasis on the use of the electric guitar, piano and saxophone. The R&B genre’s earliest bands included Count Basie, Louis Jordan and Lionel Hampton, each with hit songs at the time. By the mid-1940s, popular songs such as “R.M. Blues” by Roy Milton and “The Honeydripper” by Joe Liggin sold one million copies each, a tremendous fete for the musical genre. Although the term ‘rhythm and blues’ was frequently applied to blues records since its coining in the 1950s, the mid-1950s saw a shift in the term’s meaning as the genre’s influence in rock and roll was recognised. With this, the term “R&B” became used to describe musical styles incorporating other sounds of music including electric blues, gospel and soul music. As time went on, new musical styling’s were added to the R&B genre and by the 1970s, the term was used to label styles such as soul and funk before finally becoming known as “Contemporary R&B” in the 1980s.
One of the most significant names in R&B history, Motown Records, was founded in 1959, under the first African American owner of a major label, Berry Gordy. Motown’s enormous success led to a large desire for soul music, with the combination of soul and pop becoming known as the “Motown Sound”. Famous artists of the time including Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and the Jackson 5 were all represented by the Motown label, further rocketing it to world-wide success and recognition. Motown had 110 songs reaching the top 10 from 1961 to 1971, further demonstrating the genre’s profound impact on pop culture of that time.
Although R&B music has undergone many changes in its history, it remains one of the most popular genres in the music industry today, boasting millions of fans including those like Tunde Folawiyo. With many of today’s leading artists utilising an R&B influence in their music, the genre will continue to inspire millions with its unique sound and history.