Wikipedia's Rhythm and Blues Portal
Rhythm and blues, commonly abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African American communities in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a heavy, insistent beat" was becoming more popular.
In the commercial rhythm and blues music typical of the 1950s through the 1970s, the bands usually consisted of piano, one or two guitars, bass, drums, one or more saxophones, and sometimes background vocalists. R&B lyrical themes often encapsulate the African-American experience of pain and the quest for freedom and joy, as well as triumphs and failures in terms of relationships, economics, and aspirations.
The term "rhythm and blues" has undergone a number of shifts in meaning. In the early 1950s, it was frequently applied to blues records. Starting in the mid-1950s, after this style of music contributed to the development of rock and roll, the term "R&B" became used to refer to music styles that developed from and incorporated electric blues, as well as gospel and soul music. In the 1960s, several British rock bands such as the Rolling Stones, the Who and the Animals were referred to and promoted as being R&B bands; posters for the Who's residency at the Marquee Club in 1964 contained the slogan, "Maximum R&B". Their mix of rock and roll and R&B is now known as "British rhythm and blues". By the 1970s, the term "rhythm and blues" changed again and was used as a blanket term for soul and funk. In the 1980s, a newer style of R&B developed, becoming known as "contemporary R&B". It combines rhythm and blues with elements of pop, soul, funk, hip hop, and electronic music. Popular R&B vocalists at the end of the 20th century included Prince, R. Kelly, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey. In the 21st century, R&B has remained a popular genre becoming more pop-oriented and alternatively influenced with successful artists including Bruno Mars, Daft Punk, Robin Thicke, The Weeknd, and Mark Ronson.
Winter in America is a studio album by American soul musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron and musician Brian Jackson, released in May 1974 on Strata-East Records. Recording sessions for the album took place on three recording dates in September and October 1973 at D&B Sound Studio in Silver Spring, Maryland. The album serves as the third collaborational effort by Scott-Heron with Jackson, following the latter's contributions on Pieces of a Man (1971) and Free Will (1972). As their first record produced together, it was also the first of their recorded work to have Jackson receive co-billing for a release. Winter in America features introspective, socially-conscious lyrics by Scott-Heron with mellow instrumentation stylistically rooted in jazz and the blues. Jackson's free jazz arrangements accompany the fusion, which Scott-Heron dubbed as "bluesology". The album contains proto-rap elements such as spoken word-vocalization and stripped-down production, which allowed them to rely on traditional African and R&B sounds.
Winter in America serves as Gil Scott-Heron's and Brian Jackson's debut album for Strata-East Records following a dispute with their former label and departure, while also serving as the two musicians' only release for the independent jazz label. Upon its release, the album featured limited distribution in the United States and eventually became a rarity for record collectors prior to its subsequent U.S. re-release. However, with the help of the its only single "The Bottle", Winter in America proved to be Scott-Heron's and Jackson's breakthrough effort, as well as a commercial success in comparison to their previous work.
The album proved to be Gil Scott-Heron's and Brian Jackson's most critically acclaimed release and has often been viewed by many music writers and critics as their greatest work. In addition to earning such critical acclaim, Winter in America has also been noted by several critics for its influence on such music genres as neo soul and hip hop music, as the genre's artists have been influenced by Scott-Heron's and Jackson's unique approach regarding lyricism and sound. On March 10, 1998, Winter in America was reissued on compact disc for the first time in the United States by Gil Scott-Heron's Rumal-Gia Records.
The Supremes were a successful American female singing trio. Active from 1959 until 1977, the Supremes performed, at various times, doo-wop, pop, soul, Broadway show tunes, and disco.
One of Motown Records' signature acts, The Supremes were the most successful African American musical act of the 1960s, recording twelve American number-one hits between 1964 and 1969. Many of these singles were written and produced by Motown's main songwriting and production team, Holland-Dozier-Holland. The crossover success of the Supremes during the mid-1960s paved the way for future black soul and R&B acts to gain mainstream audiences both in the United States and overseas.
Founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1959, The Supremes began as a quartet called The Primettes. Founding members Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Diana Ross and Betty McGlown, all from the Brewster-Douglass public housing project in Detroit, were the sister act to The Primes (later known as The Temptations). In 1960, Barbara Martin replaced McGlown, and the group signed with Motown in 1961 as The Supremes. Martin left in early 1962, and Ross, Ballard and Wilson carried on as a trio. Achieving success in the mid-1960s with Ross as lead singer, Motown president Berry Gordy renamed the group Diana Ross & the Supremes in 1967 and replaced Ballard with Cindy Birdsong. Ross left the group for a successful solo career in 1970 and was replaced by Jean Terrell. After 1972, the lineup of the Supremes changed frequently, with Lynda Laurence, Scherrie Payne and Susaye Greene all becoming members before the group ended its eighteen-year existence in 1977.
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