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Development of Soul – a Uniquely American Genre

Although it has been embraced by the world for decades, there remains no easy way to clearly define soul music. This dynamic style of music rose to popularity in the 1950s, brought to the limelight by legendary musicians such as James Brown and Ray Charles. In this era, artists blended gospel harmonies with rhythm and blues to create a style that was quite unique. After all, incorporating the subjects of love, relationships and cool happenings into gospel music was not widely accepted by the general public at the time.

Despite the critics, the early bits of soul music became incredibly popular, particularly among the African-American community. Gospel was already familiar to many listeners and the new combination proved powerful enough to speak to the soul. Record companies across the nation hopped on the bandwagon, capitalizing on the demand and helping drive the soul music genre to the forefront of the industry. Mainstream record labels like Atlantic Records signed music artists such as Solomon Burke while newcomers Goldwax Records and Stax Records went after the likes of Aretha Franklin, James Carr and Otis Redding. Some companies even leveraged the new phenomenon by merging it with rock and roll, leading to the evolution of talents such as Jimi Hendrix and the Experience.

By the time the 1970s rolled around, soul shaped dramatically with bands such as Parliament Funkadelic, fully embracing the implementation of psychedelic rock. One of the most influential albums of this period in soul was Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, a riveting composition that touched on racial conflict in the United States and the controversial subject of the Vietnam War. From there, soul music made the transition to funky, disco styles, an era that left a lasting impression on the genre. The Commodores and Earth, Wind and Fire are just two of many instrumental groups to power the disco movement with a variety of mainstream hits that got the public’s attention.

Though primarily dominated by African Americans, there are a few Caucasian artists that have left a memorable stamp on soul music as well. Often referred to as “Blue-eyed Soul,” Hall & Oates, Bee Gees and Bobby Caldwell were among some of the most known to make major contributions to new-wave soul music. In fact, a number of ’70s and ’80s bands such as Chicago just wouldn’t have been the same without the powerful influence of soulful melodies.

Soul music continues to thrive to this day, now existing in a wonderful array of variations. You will find it incorporated into hip hop, modern gospel and contemporary music in general. The seeds planted by the likes of Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder were nurtured by legendary groups such as the Dramatics and Sly & The Family Stone. Neo soul artists like Anthony Hamilton, Musiq Soulchild, Angie Stone, Raphael Saadiq, Dwele, and Alicia Keys grabbed a hold to those roots and created a style that is fresh yet reminiscent of the golden days.

Where is soul headed? It is headed around the world with no boundaries to reach, touching an audience of new and old fans alike.


The Power of Socially Conscious Music

The influence music has on our way of thinking and lifestyle dates back many years. Some of that influence has been negative regardless of the artists’ intention. Seeing him for the man that he is today, you might never believe rapper Ice Cube purposely delivered negative messages with the album titled Kill at Will. Several might disagree, especially when the album depicts a young Cube posing with an automatic handgun, looking as if he’s offering the weapon to the listener. Although the album mainly dealt in politics and struggles of America’s inner city ghettos, it’s no doubt those genuine hardcore tracks like “Endangered Species” and “The Product” could have easily been used to fuel the anger of someone who already had a negative outlook on life. At the same time, a soulful cut like “Dead Homies” could do the exact opposite, affecting listeners in a positive light, causing them to think twice about the consequences of their actions.

Every once in a while we are graced with a moving song or album, such as Ice Cube’s Kill at Will. A creative artist comes along and opens our ears with revealing lyrics powerful enough to challenge the common way of thinking and initiate compelling conversation. There are many occasions when popular music takes a listener deeper than the political realm, often proving that politics aren’t that deep at all. There are instances when an artist drops a cutting-edge track and changes the perception of a particular genre. Take Ne-Yo for example. An admitted hip hop junkie, the smooth R&B soulster lifted the spirits of women across the country with his hit single “Miss Independent”. This catchy track highlighted the qualities of strong, independent ladies, a refreshing theme in an industry that has been known to portray females in a classless manner. Aptly titled Year of the Gentlemen, Ne-Yo’s latest album is jammed with socially charged melodies.

Quality conscious music is based on originality that not only inspires imagination, but touches lives as well. One artist who has built a name for such emotional lyrics is India.Arie. Released late 2005, her song titled “I Am Not My Hair” became an anthem for breast cancer survivors, women young and old, black and white. Arie even shaved her head to express her creativity and further drive the message home. Like many of her songs, this one flows like a poem, reminding women everywhere that they shouldn’t be defined by their skin or hair, but by the beauty within their soul. Although the track became more commercialized with remixed versions featuring Akon and pop rocker Pink, it still offers strong appeal and relays a deep felt message.

Socially conscious music is the type that breaks the mold, displaying a sense of purpose beyond the world of marketing. “Do a Little Better” by Prince “BlkMagic” Damons is another track that makes the listener think and even commands the attention of fans who may prefer other genres. Melding a soft R&B feel with a smooth hip hop vibe, this influential tune touches on cancer, the government’s stranglehold over the medical field, and pulling together as a race of people to make it through the storm of life.

When these songs are able to impact their listeners in a positive way, they remind us that music has a role that is far more essential than encouraging us to dance and bob our heads.


The Melding of Soul and Spoken Word

Forms of poetry have existed as early as 1700 BC, back when the Indian Vedas and Zoroaster’s Gathas where devising ways to aid in memorization and oral transmission. Spoken word as we know it today got its claim to fame in the early 1990s. Films, such as Poetic Justice in 1993 and Slam! in 1998, receive much of the credit for the current spoken word explosion. Poetic Justice saw actor/singer Janet Jackson use poetry as an outlet to deal with inner conflicts and express her emotions. Her character, Justice, was traumatized by losing her boyfriend to a violent shooting. The only method able to soothe the feelings of loss and agony was writing poetry. Though you could argue that this wasn’t the best movie, it did touch on the impact of spoken word and even gave us some passages from renowned poet Dr. Maya Angelou. In Slam!, Saul Williams’ character, Ray Joshua, used poetry to rehabilitate himself and rejoin society following a stint in prison.

Both of the films mentioned above opened our eyes to spoken word but none more so than the 1997 release of Love Jones. Starring Larenz Tate and Nia Long, this film made poetry hip and sexy. The poems in Love Jones were driven by emotion, unleashing a side of spoken word that most people didn’t know existed. When Larenz Tate’s character, Darius Lovehall stepped on stage, his risqué, flirtatious poem, “Brother to the Night,” captivated the audience of movie extras and film lovers across the nation. The poetry was so deep that ladies in the streets suddenly found themselves bombarded by guys spitting romantic pick up lines patterned after Lovehall’s influential poetry. It is no doubt– Love Jones was a film that paved the way for new age spoken word, resulting in the revival of coffeehouses and bookstores that opened the doors to open-mic nights and a barrage of soulful, jazzy poetry.

Neo soul is the name of a fresh new genre that meshes the best of spoken word with soulful music. Often referred to as spoken word soul, it contains elements of jazz, funk, R&B and electronic sounds. This movement originated in the late ’90s, introduced by hip hop notables like Common, The Roots and Mos Def, and then ascended to popularity at the turn of the century and into the present. Indie artists such as Dr. Cornell West and Coco Brown have fully grasped the original foundation of doo-wop and gospel tunes, merging powerful spoken words to form the center of which all music is based.

Artists like Gil Scott-Heron, Floetry, Slum Village, Jill Scott, and Talib Kweli are considered the progenitors of this new style of soul. Their success has powered the underground culture and inspired unsigned hype to stop waiting for the big name record companies and use other mediums to promote their talents. Some of the artists you’ve never even heard of can be found on a number of web-based outlets including CD Baby, Dusty Groove, MySpace and YouTube. Donald “Dee M” Manor, Shades of J co-founder and producer, is one of many who believe that this soulful, poetic movement will “always be relevant.” Leaving us with the final though, that from old to new, soul will be a large part of our musical culture.


Prince Damons Widget

Prince Damons is one of the hottest upcoming urban artists today! This accomplished musician blends the best beats of modern hip-hop with the hint of southern soul. Give a listen and don't forget to download the Free Mp3 of "Can I Take Ya Picture"! http://widget.nabbr.com/prince_damons.html

Artist Profile

Out of the soul of Mississippi comes a young talented musician, songwriter, and producer. Prince "BlkMagic" Damons is one of the hottest new producers in Hip-Hop and R&B. Though the "Dirty South" claims Prince "BlkMagic" Damons as one of their areas top producers, his hot tracks are being heard all over the world. Prince "BlkMagic" Damons is the musical genius reconstructing the soul of today’s music. BlkMagic has produced hits for some of today's hottest artists as well as seasoned veterans like Atlantic Records legendary recording artist "Mr. Tighten Up" Archie Bell. You can even hear Prince "BlkMagic" Damons’ bangin’ tracks in the background of several WB TV shows and movies like the Tyra Banks show and TMZ.

Born in a small town in Northeast Mississippi, Prince Damons started playing his first instrument around the age of four. His profile now includes 13 different instruments including piano, drums, bass and guitar. Damons earned his Bachelors Degree in Commercial Music at the University of North Alabama. Damons later relocated to California after landing a deal as a freelance music producer and ghost writer that allowed him to work with several major record labels across the country.

Prince "BlkMagic" Damons is currently working on his highly anticipated solo project, "Atmospheric Soul". Teaming up with old friends and multi-platinum selling artists such as Lenny Williams (Tower of Power), Dwele, E40, Too Short, Goapele, American Idol Finalist LaToya London and "Mr. Tighten Up" himself Archie Bell amongst many others, this album is rumoring Prince "BlkMagic" Damons to be the "Quincy Jones" of a new era. "Atmospheric Soul" takes Soul to the next level embracing and compressing the sounds of R&B, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Spoken Word and a hint of Country influence.

In recent news Damons just finished working in the studio with Tapa Records' pop/rock singing sensation Nicci Nix(www.niccinix.com) who's new record is scheduled to be release in the Fall of 2009. Even more recent, Prince Damons is producing new albums for living legend, Archie Bell as well as America's sweetheart, LaToya London of American Idol (Season 3). For more info log onto: www.princedamons.com or www.TapaRecords.com

For Bookings Contact: Sparks Ent. Group 310.562.2335 or www.taparecords.com (serious business inquiries only)