Strings And Things Pt.1: 36 Orchestral Soul Gems

I’ve been told by fellow DJs on the soul scene, quite derisively sometimes, that the soul music that I spin is too *sweet.* Not Funky, nitty or gritty, I tend towards pretty melodies, and… frankly, string sections. Violins? Cellos? Upright Bass? Why?!?!

As I try to lean back into live DJing in a new town, I’ve had to also get acquainted with a theme of music I love. And that frankly in an activity (Vinyl DJing and record collecting) it’s fair to push back against the standards established by mostly white, mostly heterosexual, mostly CIS gendered men. As is the norm in American Society, still, for reasons unreasonable to me.

wc2There is a lack of history and understanding for many artists of color, that having a record with gossamer strings in their discography was once a trading card in a world that only gave African – Americans some semblance of respectability politics on vinyl as a credit line to better nightclub gigs and recording contracts.

I start this collection of sweet, swinging soul with Dinah Washington, who was accused of selling out when her string laden cross-over smash “What A Diff’rence A Day Makes” landed in the Pop and R&B Top 10 in 1959. In actuality Washington’s discography included lush strings since the early 1950’s. As a pioneer of R&B and one of the first women to take ownership of both her songcraft and finances, I’m pretty sure The Queen loved bathing in strings in the studio and on stage.

With that, I take you on a 90+ minute journey of soulful strings. Some tracks blare the presence right away, some float in, some surprise you in the middle of the proceedings. I hope you find delight throughout.


1) Dinah Washington – Mad About The Boy
2) Caterina Valente – Full Moon & Empty Arms
3) Brook Benton – Fools Rush In
4) Dusty Springfield – Once Upon A Time
5) The Dells – If It Ain’t One Thing (It’s Another)
6) Gladys Knight & The Pips – Come See About Me
7) The Gems – I Can’t Help Myself
8) The Miracles – I’ll Try Something New
9) The Supremes – Honey Babe
10) The Superbs – I Was Born When You Kissed Me
11) The Joy Tones – This Love (That I’m Giving You)
12) Marv Johnson – The Man Who Don’t Believe In Love
13) Teddy Randazzo – You Don’t Need A Heart
14) Dionne Warwick – Only The Strong, Only The Brave
15) Kim Weston – I’m Still Loving You
16) Betty Everett – Getting Mighty Crowded
17) The Velvets – Baby, The Magic Is Gone
18) The What Four – Anything For A Laugh
19) The O’Jays – Think It Over
20) Ginny Arnell – A Little Bit Of Love Can Hurt
21) Lenny Welch – Darling, Take Me Back (I’m Sorry)
22) Barbara McNair – You’re Gonna Love My Baby
23) Jerry Butler – You Don’t Know What You Got Until You Lose It
24) Beverly Noble – Better Off Without You
25) Lesley Gore – What Am I Gonna Do With You (Hey, Baby)
26) Brenda Holloway – Hurt A Little Every Day
27) Vinnie Monte – I Don’t Have The Heart To Tell Her
28) The Royalettes – It’s Better Not To Know
29) Pat Thomas – I Can’t Wait Until I See My Baby’s Face
30) John Andrea – Come On In
31) Mary Wells – Never, Ever Leave Me
32) The Vibrations – Canadian Sunset
33) Francine “Peaches” Barker – Traces
34) Walter Jackson – It’s An Uphill Climb To The Bottom
35) Marvin Gaye – Talk About A Good Feeling
36) The Temptations – That’ll Be The Day

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