Soul music (often referred to simply as soul) is a popular music genre that originated in the United States in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It combines elements of African-American gospel music, rhythm and blues and jazz. Soul music became popular for dancing and listening in the United States, where record labels such as Motown, Atlantic and Stax were influential during the Civil Rights Movement. Soul also became popular the world, directly influencing rock music and the music of Africa
Soul music has its roots in traditional African-American gospel music and rhythm and blues, and the hybridization of their respective religious and secular styles, in both lyrical content and instrumentation, that began to occur in the 1950s. The term soul had been used among African - American musicians to emphasize the feeling of being an African-American in the United States.
Writer Peter Guralnick is among those to identify Solomon Burke as a key figure in the emergence of soul music, and Atlantic Records as the key record label. Burke's early 1960s songs, including "Cry to Me", "Just Out of Reach" and "Down in the Valley" are considered classics of the genre.
Guralnick wrote: "Soul started, in a sense, with the 1961 success of Solomon Burke's "Just Out Of Reach". Ray Charles, of course, had already enjoyed enormous success (also on Atlantic), as had James Brown and Sam Cooke — primarily in a pop vein. Each of these singers, though, could be looked upon as an isolated phenomenon; it was only with the coming together of Burke and Atlantic Records that you could begin to see anything resembling a movement."
The most important female soul singer to emerge was Aretha Franklin, originally a gospel singer who began to make secular recordings in 1960 but whose career was later revitalised by her recordings for Atlantic. Her 1967 recordings, such as "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)", "Respect" (originally sung by Otis Redding), and "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" (written by Chips Moman and Dan Penn), were significant and commercially successful productions.
Information sourced from Wikipedia