Friday, May 13, 2011

Blue Eyed Soul

Here's another "Music Entertainment Industry Term" that I'm sure we're all familiar with. Blue Eyed Soul. Basically, White performers (usually singers) with the distinctive ability to render rhythm and blues material in an authentic manner. So authentic, in fact that one is hard pressed to determine that the performer is not actually black. Blue eyed soul performers must be white, however they can be male or female and are permitted to have blue, green, brown or pink eyes. Or any combination thereof. The eyes ,furthermore need not have the ability to actually see, but they may not be crossed. Too distracting. Onward...

The phrase was coined in the '60s during the time when racial segregation was still an obvious problem in the U.S. (note my use of the word "obvious") and there was much unrest due to it. Also, since soul music was starting to gain increasing mainstream exposure and popularity, it became a somewhat controversial term.
Philadelphia disc jockey and political activist Georgie Woods ("the guy with the goods") is widely credited for coining the term.

Sometimes when white artists remade black music for mainstream consumption the music became somewhat diluted, causing resentment among many. Others saw any growth in the exposure of the music to be a positive thing. In the U.K. musicians were well documented students of American black music, but few had the authentic sound and delivery. one exception was Steve Winwood of The Spencer Davis Group and later Traffic. Dusty Springfield and Welshman Tom Jones were others. The careers of many blue-eyed soul vocalists involved varying amounts of evolution and change. For example, David Coverdale's early work with the soul band The Fabuloso Brothers, and his eventual stardom as a hard rock/heavy metal singer with Deep Purple and Whitesnake. Others took a reverse trajectory, such as Michael Bolton early on fronting hard rock bands such as Blackjack before becoming the RnB crooner we all know today.

That authentic sound and delivery was to be found in greater abundance in the U.S. with artists such as Wayne Cochran, Mitch Ryder,The Righteous  Brothers, Felix Cavaliere of The Young Rascals on up to Boz Scaggs, Joss Stone, Teena Marie, George Michael and even the so-called "boy bands" like N'Sync and The Backstreet Boys. Also, not to be excluded is rap music where Eminem is the best of a very few white artists.
To follow are some examples of Blue Eyed Soul through the ages.

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