Icons of R&B and Soul

An Encyclopedia of the Artists Who Revolutionized Rhythm

by Bob Gulla


Through substantial entries on the chief architects and innovators, Icons of R&B and Soul offers a vibrant overview of the music's impact in American culture and how it reflected contemporary society's politics, trends, and social issues.

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December 2007


Pages 552
Volumes 2
Size 7x10
Topics Popular Culture/Icons and Celebrities

Drawn from a mosaic of influences, including folk, gospel, and blues, R&B represents both everything that came before and nothing that was heard before. This is the music that bridged the gap between audiences and helped, at the very height of racism in America, to dismantle racial barriers. So much of today's music is derived directly from the highly influential and critically important sounds of R&B that without it we would have never known the classic soul of the late '50s and '60s, the glory days of the genre. Similarly, rock n' roll as seen through the eyes of Bill Haley and Elvis Presley would have never evolved without the foundation laid by their R&B predecessors. Through substantial entries on the chief architects and innovators, Icons of R&B and Soul offers a vibrant overview of the music's impact in American culture and how it reflected contemporary society's politics, trends, and social issues.

Numerous sidebars highlight Motown, prominent record labels, hit songs, related singers and songwriters, key events, and significant aspects of the music industry. Also included is a list of important print and Web resources, as well as a list of selected recordings. An essential reference for high school and public libraries, this encyclopedia will help students explore the historical and cultural framework of R&B and soul music through the musicians who have come to define the genre. Among the featured: -Ray Charles -Little Richard -Fats Domino & New Orleans R&B -Ruth Brown -Sam Cooke -Etta James -James Brown -Aretha Franklin -The Supremes -Otis Redding -Ike & Tina Turner -Curtis Mayfield -Berry Gordy -Stevie Wonder -Marvin Gaye -Smokey Robinson -The Temptations -Prince



"As with other entries in the series, the articles in these three volumes feature a nice mix of scholarly excellence and great reading appeal. The editor/authors were chosen for their breadth of knowledge, and much care was taken to present the topics in a way that provides context. Expect to find a time line of significant events, followed by entries with essential historical data and a legacy discussion pointing out the significance of the icon to the genre. Signed articles are accompanied by further reading and interspersed with chronologies and interesting sidebars.These sets are excellent for students requiring authoritative studies yet popular enough in writing style to allow for leisure reading. Recommended as solid encyclopedias of important figures, so purchase as interest warrants for school, public, and college library reference collections."Library Journal

"This biographical dictionary examines the innovations of 24 R&B artists. From Ray Charles to Prince, the detailed entries intimately describe the lives, backgrounds, careers and contributions of some of the most influential figures in the creation of R&B music. The extended essays capture not only the details of personal lives but also the distinctive creative processes involved in composing, performing and recording mucis. Inevitably, the discussion also embraces a number of genres from early rock and roll to soul, disco and funk. The scope includes individual performers as well as prominent groups. Also highlighted are the studio efforts of the architects the Philadelphia sound, the producing team of Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell..... Each entry includes a selective discography and suggestions for further reading. Numerous sidebars feature related artists, music companies, songs and selected issues."Lawrence Looks at Books

"With its extended essay format, Icons of R&B and Soul is recommended for both large and small collections. Its depth of coverage makes it appropriate for large collections as a useful supplement to standard popular music reference works."Reference & User Services Quarterly

"In Icons of R&B and Soul, author Gulla includes a diverse group of artists. Most of the 24 articles treat the essential royalty, such as James Brown and Aretha Franklin, but there is also a pleasant surprise--a lengthy entry on Dusty Springfield, the most acclaimed British R&B singer....These works are recommended for high-school and public libraries as well as academic libraries with popular-culture collections. (Joint review with Icons of Rock)."Booklist

"Secondary or college students and interested readers are treated to compact essays of R&B and Soul artists who have made an impact on pop and popular culture. The essays are linear beginning with childhood. They follow the artist's life, touching on personal as well as musical ups and downs. The volumes are arranged chronologically in order to show the evolution of the music. Included with each entry are black-and-white photos of the artist, an assessment of his/her legacy, a selected discography, and a further reading section. Volume one also begins with an R&B and Soul time line and volume two has a bibliography of books and music."MultiCultural Review

"In the preface to these volumes, Gulla opines that given the information available on the Web, he was surprised to find a relatively unexplored topic. And he is right; this work does fill a void....While the author was selective, all of the giants, from Ray Charles to Prince, are here. The limited scope is a virtue, as it gives the author space to consider the career of each artist in some detail....Logical subheadings guide readers through the material, and the writing is consistently more compelling than most standard-issue reference prose....The bibliographies, discographies, filmographies, and lists of Web sites are extensive. This set will be useful for reports on these musical legends."School Library Journal

"[A]n excellent, two-volume, in-depth survey of musicians and their contributions to changing the atmostphere of rock and soul music. Each featured musician receives biographical coverage, a history of hits, social issues of their times affecting their music, a discography and more. An outstanding survey recommended for any music library strong in popular and soul music."Midwest Book Review/Internet Bookwatch

". . . recommended for school and public libraries."ARBA

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