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Blue-eyed soul (also known as white soul) is rhythm and blues or soul music performed by white artists. 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 term continued to be used in the 1970s and 1980s, particularly by the Britishmarker 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.

1960s and 1970s

Blue-eyed soul began when white musicians remade African American music for mass audiences, partly due to segregation laws that prevented blacks from performing for whites. Often the music was diluted for its new audience, a move that angered some African Americans as cultural expropriation, but pleased others who felt the growth of their music genre was positive.

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. 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 Escorts) began their careers on this circuit. Bill Deal and the Rhondels and The Swinging 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. Perhaps one of the most famous duos to be associated with the term were The Righteous Brothers, due to their emotive vocal style. By the mid-1960s, British singers Dusty Springfield, Eric Burdon and Tom Jones had become leading vocal stars of the emerging style. Other notable UK exponents of blue-eyed soul included The Spencer Davis Group (featuring singer-organist Steve Winwood) and archetypal mod band The Small Faces, whose sound was heavily influenced by the Stax label's house band Booker T & the MGs. 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. In 1967, Jerry Lee Lewis, whose latter days at Sun Records (1961-1963) 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.

Outside the Anglo-American scene, Italian singer Mina fused elements of soul music with the classic Italian melody. Carola and Doris were notable Scandinavian artists who were influenced by soul music.

On February 1, 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. 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. In April 1976, The Faragher Brothers became the first all-white ensemble to make an appearance on Soul Train.

1980s and later

In the 1980s, blue-eyed soul hits were released by artists including Phil Collins' "You Can't Hurry Love", Culture Club's "Church of the Poison Mind" (1983), The Style Council's "Speak Like a Child", (1983) Eurythmics' "Missionary Man" (1986), and Steve Winwood "Roll With It" (1988). Annie Lennox, of the Eurythmics, was often cited as possessing "soul" and went on to record the female empowerment anthem "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves" with Aretha Franklin. In the late 1990s, music video channel VH1 proclaimed Lennox to be the greatest living female blue-eyed soul singer. George Michael was one of the first artists to successfully bring soul to pop music, and also the first white solo artist to sing a duet with Aretha Franklin, in their hit "I Knew You Were Waiting ". Michael was the first white male vocalist to hit #1 on the US R&B album charts, with his debut album Faith. "Faith" also is the best-selling Blue-eyed Soul album ever, with worldwide sales of approximately 20 million copies. His fourth single from the album the Ballad, "One More Try", hit #1 in the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts. In 1989 he became the first white artist to win the American Music Award for Favourite Male Vocalist and Favourite Album (Faith) (Soul/R&B). Around the same time audiences were struck by the soulfulness of Teena Marie and Michael McDonald is also frequently described as a 'blue-eyed soul' artist.

Out of Philadelphia alone there were major blue-eyed sould artists including writer, producer, performer, Michael Sembello who left home at 17 to tour with Stevie Wonder writing and performing on numerous blue-eyed soul hits for Brian McKnight, Stevie Wonder, David Sanborn, Bill Champlian and Bobby Caldwell. Todd Rundgren, also a Phildelphia native, is also included in this category of performing artists who began his career in Woody's Truck Stop, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based group based on the model of Paul Butterfield Blues Band. However, he left the band to form the garage rock group Nazz in 1967. Also from Philadelphia, you will find Hall & Oates as part of the Philadelphia blue-eyed soul boys.

Blue-eyed soul also made a crossover into instrumentals, as evidenced by the smooth sounds of rising star David Sanborn, who had guest appearances on select R&B hits, both by Black and White artists. Eventually, Sanborn laid the groundwork for what is now known as Smooth Jazz, and he has become a major influence on most of the current Smooth Jazz artists, such as Rick Braun, Euge Groove and Mindi Abair.

Hall & Oates' chart success was at its highest when their singles got heavy airplay on urban contemporary (black) radio, as was the case with "I Can't Go for That ", "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 high or at #1 on the R&B and dance charts. The boy band New Kids On The Block were also part of the blue eyed soul movement with hits such as "Please Don't Go Girl", the Delfonics covered "Didnt' I (Blow Your Mind)" and their first number 1 hit "I'll Be Loving You Forever". A backlash ensued in the late 1980s as some blacks felt that whites were cashing in on the new popularity of their music. However, the extent of the backlash was not universally agreed upon. In 1989, Ebony Magazine published an article exploring whether whites were "taking over" R&B. The article featured various members of the music industry, both black and white, who believed collaboration was in fact 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 persists both in American life and within the music industry. In the 2000s Natasha Bedingfield, Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse, Adele and Duffy, have all enjoyed success in the American charts, leading to talk of a "Second British Invasion", "Female Invasion" or "British soul invasion".

2007, Soul artist Guy Sebastian recorded The Memphis Album his tribute album of soul classics at Ardent Studios in Memphismarker, Tennessee with many of the original Stax music band members including Steve Cropper, Donald Duck Dunn, Lester Snell, Steve Potts (a.k.a. Booker T. and the MGs).

See also


  3. Settimana 20 Dicembre 1968 Hitparadeitalia site. Retrieved 6 August 2007
  4. Se stasera sono qui hitparadeitalia site. Retrieved 10 August 2007
  5. Loris Biazzetti 2005. The Platinum Collection. CD liner notes. EMI
  6. Io e te da soli HitParadeItalia site. Retrieved 27 June 2007
  7. Carola (FI): Chain of Fools (Song) (In German).
  8. Carolaa neljällä kielellä (Carola in four languages. In Finnish). YLE
  9. DORIS: Did You Give The World Some Love Today, Baby? Other Music digital music store
  10. 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.
  11. George Michael - Star Snapshot
  12. N. McCormick, "Flower of Brit-soul turns shrinking violet" Daily Telegraph, 29 Jan 2004,, retrieved 02/07/09.
  13. "Singer-songwriter Adele brings introspection to Brit-soul scene", Seattle Times January 26, 2009,, retrieved 02/07/09

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