Blue-eyed soul

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"White soul" redirects here. For the album by Green, see White Soul.

Blue-eyed soul (also known as white soul) is a term sometimes used for rhythm and blues and soul music performed by white artists.[1] The term was first used in the mid-1960s to describe white artists who performed soul and R&B that was similar to the music of the Motown and Stax record labels. The somewhat controversial term was coined during racial segregation in 1960s United States at the time of the music genre's emergence in popular music culture.[2]

The term continued to be used in the 1970s and 1980s, particularly by the British music press, to describe a new generation of white singers who adopted elements of classic soul music. To a lesser extent, the term has been applied to singers in other music genres that are influenced by soul music, such as urban music and hip hop soul.[not verified in body]

1960s and 1970s[edit]

Steve Winwood performing with Traffic, 1969

Blue-eyed soul began when white musicians remade African-American music for white audiences. Often the music was diluted for its new audience, a move that angered some African Americans as cultural appropriation, but pleased others who felt the growth of their music genre was positive.[citation needed]

The regional beach music and Carolina shag trends that originated in the areas around North and South Carolina in the late 1950s were, at least partly, a manifestation of blue-eyed soul.[citation needed] Local white bands backed nationally popular black R&B artists during their tours, and performed on their own at fraternity parties and other college social events. According to beach band historian Greg Haynes, artists such as Bonnie Bramlett and The Allman Brothers (originally known as The Allman Joys) began their careers on this circuit. Bill Deal and the Rhondels and The Swingin' Medallions are beach bands which have charted nationally.

Georgie Woods, a Philadelphia radio DJ, came up with the term blue-eyed soul in the 1960s to describe white artists who received airplay on rhythm and blues radio stations.[citation needed] In the early 1960s, one of the rare female blue-eyed soul singers was Timi Yuro, whose vocal delivery and repertoire were influenced by African American singers such as Dinah Washington. Perhaps one of the most famous duos to be associated with the term were The Righteous Brothers,[3] due to their emotive vocal style; their 1964 LP Some Blue-Eyed Soul[4] was named after the term. Lonnie Mack's 1963 gospel-infused vocals earned him widespread critical acclaim as a blue-eyed soul singer.[5] Groups such as The Rascals (originally The Young Rascals) had soul-tinged songs, but it was the soulful vocals of Felix Cavaliere that gave them the blue-eyed soul sound. By the mid-1960s, British singers Dusty Springfield, Eric Burdon and Tom Jones had become leading vocal stars of the emerging style.[6] Other notable UK exponents of blue-eyed soul included The Spencer Davis Group (featuring singer-organist-guitarist Steve Winwood) and archetypal mod band The Small Faces, whose sound was heavily influenced by the Stax label's house band Booker T. & the M.G.'s. Blue-eyed soul singer, Chris Clark became the first white singer to have an R&B hit with Motown Records in 1966. Most of the leading UK pop groups of the period – including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Who – regularly covered Stax and Motown tracks on record or in concert, and all of them have acknowledged the influence of Motown and Stax artists on their music.[citation needed] In 1967, Jerry Lee Lewis, whose latter days at Sun Records (1961–63) had been characterized by R&B covers, recorded an album for Smash entitled Soul My Way. Delaney and Bonnie (Bramlett) produced the blue-eyed soul album Home on Stax in 1969.[7]

Michael Sembello, who left home at 17 to tour with Stevie Wonder, wrote and performed on numerous blue-eyed soul hits for Wonder, Brian McKnight, David Sanborn, Bill Champlin and Bobby Caldwell. Todd Rundgren began his career in Woody's Truck Stop, a group based on the model of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. He left the band to form the garage rock band Nazz in 1967.

Outside the Anglo-American scene, in Italy, Mina and Carmen Villani fused elements of soul music with the traditional Italian pop music.[8][9][10][11][12] Carola and Doris were notable Scandinavian artists who were influenced by soul music.[13][14][15][16]

On 1 February 1975, Tower of Power became the first white/mixed act to appear on Soul Train. Also in 1975, David Bowie, another early white artist to appear on Soul Train, released Young Americans, a popular blue-eyed soul album. It featured the funk-inspired "Fame", which became Bowie's first #1 hit in the US. Hall & Oates' 1975 Silver Album (real title Daryl Hall & John Oates) includes the ballad "Sara Smile", long considered a blue-eyed soul standard. "She's Gone", another soulful hit, was originally released in 1973 but did better as a re-release after "Sara Smile". Average White Band is a Scottish funk and R&B band who had a series of soul and disco hits between 1974 and 1980, their biggest two being "Pick Up the Pieces" from their 1975 best-selling album AWB, and "Cut the Cake" from their 1975 album of the same name. Boz Scaggs' 1976 "Lowdown", which featured Scaggs' laid-back vocals and a smooth funky groove, peaked at #3 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart (and reaching Top 5 on the R&B chart). In April 1976, The Faragher Brothers became the first all-white ensemble to make an appearance on Soul Train. In September that year, white funk band Wild Cherry released the Billboard Hot 100 chart topping funk/rock single "Play That Funky Music" and also went to number one on the Hot Soul Singles chart. The single would eventually sell 2.5 million copies.

In 1978, The Bee Gees topped R&B album charts with their Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, along with several songs from the album, including "Stayin' Alive", "Night Fever" and "You Should Be Dancing", which originally charted back in 1976. The Bee Gees again had a hit album on the R&B charts in 1979 with the Spirits Having Flown album along with its three pop #1 singles, "Too Much Heaven", "Tragedy" and "Love You Inside Out".

Other blue-eyed soul of the decade include the hits "How Long" by Ace (Paul Carrack, lead vocals), three hits by Ambrosia, "How Much I Feel", "Biggest Part of Me" and "You're the Only Woman", and Bobby Caldwell's soul standard "What You Won't Do for Love".

1980s and later[edit]

Duffy, Welsh soul artist

Hall & Oates' chart success was at its highest when their singles got heavy airplay on urban contemporary radio, as was the case with "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)", "One on One", "Say It Isn't So", "Adult Education", "Out of Touch", "Method of Modern Love" and "Everything Your Heart Desires". Most of those singles charted on the R&B and dance charts, including some #1 hits. Simply Red scored one of the most successful blue-eyed soul ballads of all time in 1986 with "Holding Back the Years".

Other blue-eyed soul hits of the 1980s include: Phil Collins' cover version of "You Can't Hurry Love", Culture Club's "Church of the Poison Mind" (1983), Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up", The Style Council's "Speak Like a Child", (1983) Eurythmics' "Missionary Man" (1986), and Steve Winwood's "Roll with It" (1988).[17] As the decade drew to a close, British artist Lisa Stansfield had considerable success on R&B radio, scoring three #1 R&B hits, the most popular being "All Around the World".

A backlash ensued in the late 1980s as some black people felt that white people were cashing in on the popularity of their music. However, the extent of the backlash was not universally agreed upon. In 1989, Ebony Magazine published an article exploring whether white people were "taking over" R&B. The article featured various members of the music industry, both black and white, who believed collaboration was a unifying force, and there was agreement that the future of R&B was not compromised by the contemporary urban sound. A similar article in Ebony, written in 1999 highlighted conflicting opinions about the "blue-eyed" influence; however, the source of contention was not about the artistic merit of blue-eyed soul, but rather the economic inequality that persisted in American life and within the music industry.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Blue-Eyed Soul". Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "Blue Eyed Soul Music – What is Blue Eyed Soul Music? – Oldies Music Songs and Artists". 2012-05-22. Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  3. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 55 - Crammer: A lively cram course on the history of rock and some other things" (audio). Pop Chronicles. 
  4. ^ "Righteous Brothers, The – Some Blue-Eyed Soul at Discogs". Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  5. ^ Alec Dubrow, Rolling Stone, November 23, 1968) Quote: "It is truly the voice of Lonnie Mack that sets him apart. He is primarily a gospel singer, and in a way not too different from, say, Elvis, whose gospel works are both great and largely unnoticed. Lonnie's songs have a sincerity and intensity that's hard to find anywhere." See also, Bill Millar (1983). "Blue-eyed Soul: Colour Me Soul". The History of Rock. Archived from the original on 2007-11-22. Retrieved 2007-11-14: "Lonnie Mack wailed a soul ballad as gutsily as any black gospel singer. The anguished inflections which stamped his best songs ("Why?", "She Don't Come Here Anymore" and "Where There's a Will") had a directness which would have been wholly embarrassing in the hands of almost any other white vocalist."
  6. ^ "Dusty Springfield Biography". Retrieved 2013-03-25. 
  7. ^ "The Righteous Brothers "Blue-Eyed Soul"". Retrieved 14 September 2010. [dead link]
  8. ^ Settimana 20 Dicembre 1968 Hitparadeitalia site. Retrieved 6 August 2007
  9. ^ Se stasera sono qui hitparadeitalia site. Retrieved 10 August 2007
  10. ^ Loris Biazzetti 2005. The Platinum Collection. CD liner notes. EMI
  11. ^ Io e te da soli HitParadeItalia site. Retrieved 27 June 2007
  12. ^ "Carmen Villani". Radio Italia Musica. 
  13. ^ Carola (FI): Chain of Fools (Song) (In German).
  14. ^ Carolaa neljällä kielellä (Carola in four languages. In Finnish). YLE
  15. ^ "Forty Essential Funk Albums". 
  16. ^ Doris: Did You Give The World Some Love Today, Baby? Other Music digital music store
  17. ^ G. Wald, Soul's Revival: White Soul, Nostalgia and the Culturally Constructed Past, M. Guillory and R. C. Green, Soul: Black power, politics, and pleasure (New York University Press, 1997), pp. 139–58.
  18. ^ Hughes, Zondra (1999). "'Are Whites Stealing Rhythm & Blues? – conflicting opinions about the 'blue-eyed' influence in rhythm and blues music". Ebony Magazine. Retrieved 14 July 2008. 

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