When we look back at late 60’s Soul Music in terms of a transitional period that saw the rise of women’s liberation, we know one name in particular: Aretha. True to life, from 1967 through 1974, she sat on multiple thrones. She had major hit singles on both the R&B and Pop charts, critically acclaimed albums by the plenty and Grammy nominations in the mail. Indeed she won for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance for each year from 1967 through 1974.
She’s not on this playlist though. Ever wonder who else was nominated? Or who else was on the airwaves during that period? Then and now, some of the finest sixties soul gets lost between the Early through Mid 60’s emphasis on Girl Groups and Uptown Soul Ingenues that served us up music while the Queen was in waiting. On the charts it was a lot more difficult for Black Female acts compared to the abundant opportunities for chart success that seemed endless as late as 1965.
Truth be told, it starting in 1967, it was even a difficult time to transition for acts as surefire with success as The Supremes, Martha & The Vandellas and Dionne Warwick. All three had sporadic success through the turn of the decade, as all three focused their ability to draw revenue through ever more profitable concert appearances.
This playlist is full of former ‘girl group’ era stalwarts alongside new voices trying to maintain traction in a grittier, funkier world. Many on our list were, alongside being musicians, now mothers, wives, divorcées, actresses or in some cases struggling with the bounds of heterosexuality. In that deepening of nuances, their music grew in complexity, displaying a freshness, flyness and frankness that had not been possible in the early 60’s.
Gathered here are 35 songs that shine in the transition moments between Motown Mondays, Funky Fridays and Disco Sundays. This is a time, now 50 years in our collective rear view mirrors, that we should look back towards with newfound pride and embrace the brillance to inform us of our current moment.
4) Ella Fitzgerald – The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game