Soul music: its sociological and political significance in American Popular Culture

Posted: February 2, 2013 in Miscellaneous, Portia K. Maultsby, Post War Blues


Author: Portia K. Maultsby

Source: Journal of Popular Culture, 17:2 (1983:Fall)


“One of the most innovative and generative forms of music that evolved from the 1960s Black Power Movement served to elevate the consciousness of an African heritage among black Americans. This music, coined “soul,” established new trends and direction for the tradition of urban black popular music. Performers of soul music, in communicating the philosophyof the Black Power Movement, promoted the black pride or self-awareness concept. Their African-derived fashions and hair styles encouraged an identification with the mother country while their song lyrics advocated national black unity. Through their texts, soul singers not only discussed the depressing social and economic conditions of black communities but they also offered solutions for improvement and change. The overall awareness of an African heritage on the part of black performers influenced the conscious and unconscious revival and intensification of musical concepts that represented standards and aesthetics understood by the black community. The intense and emotional nature of songs performed by these musicians captured the new spirit, attitudes, values and convictions of blacks that later altered the social, political and economic structures of American society. Soul music, in the 1960s, served as a vehicle for self-awareness, protest and social change. In the 1970s, it provided musical resources for the evolution of new forms of American popular music. The sociological and political significance of soul music in American popular culture will be examined from three perspectives: 1) its use as an agent for advocating social and political change; 2) the path it paved for the acceptance of black music in an unadulterated form and 3) its impact on American popular culture. Since soul music is a by-product of the Black Power Movement, it will be discussed in this context. Soul and the Black Power Movement The foundation for the Black Power Movement was established by the Civil Rights Movement, which was an outgrowth of the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott of 1955-56. This boycott later proved to be the first of a series of organized efforts on the part of blacks to protest the “second-class” citizenship that defined their status.”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s