Abbreviated as R&B or RnB, Rhythm & Blues is a term used to describe popular African-American music, originating in the 1940s. Rhythm and Blues was a coined term as “urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a heavy, insistent beat” was becoming more popular.
Early to the mid 1950s only African Americans were the consumers of the Rhythm and Blues style and the sale of the recordings were localised in the African- American markets. It was later when the white teenager audience started becoming aware of R&B. By the mid-50s, most of the guitar-led electric blues music that come from Chicago and Memphis was considered rhythm and blues, since they appealed to older buyers.
From the 1950s through to the 1970s, the music generally consisted of piano, one or two guitars, bass, drums, saxophone. Regularly background vocalists would be found in the more commercial rhythm and blues music. The actual lyrics of Rhythm and Blues music often contain African-American experiences. The lyrics would focus on the various themes such as success and failures in terms of relationships, freedom, aspirations, economics, and sex.
Rhythm & Blues Musicians
Performers like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and B.B. King were regarded as rhythm-and-blues performers. Ike Turner, a piano-player-turned-guitarist from Mississippi was one important personal in the transition. He worked as a talent scout for many labels and led a band called the Kings of Rhythm and became a significant force in the modernization of rhythm and blues.
With the British rhythm and blues developed in the early 60s inspired by the recordings of the American artists like Beatles, rhythm and blues, however, attained a new meaning. Notable among them were the Rolling Stones, who played a mixture of Chicago blues and black rock and roll and recount their music as Rhythm and Blues. Rhythm and Blues remained the rubric for bands like Animals, from Newcastle on Tyne.
By the 70s, the term Rhythm and Blues have changed and was used as an umbrella term for soul and funk. And in the 80s, a comparatively newer style of R&B developed and becoming known as “Contemporary R&B”. Contemporary R&B contained components of rhythm and blues, soul, funk, pop, hip hop and dance. 20th century Popular R&B vocalist includes Michael Jackson, R. Kelly, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey.
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