Feeling Blue: Otis Redding, 1964

The discovery of Otis Redding by the then nascent Stax Records of Memphis Tennessee (see this post for more) remains a testament to the profundity of a series of fortunate events, as well as the contradiction-in-terms that luck is something one earns. When Stax Records was well on its way to regional prominence nurturing the house band Booker T and the…

fun fact!

Released originally in 1932 and 1933, Try A Little Tenderness found a new home in Otis Redding’s soulful 1966 version: Otis’ idol Sam Cooke, though, had already begun to incorporate the song as a part of his regular live shows. Here it is from his seminal 1964 performance at the Copa in NYC:

Little Bitty Brother: Otis Redding, 1965

Ranked #74 in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 greatest albums of all time, Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul is considered a masterpiece by the soul singer Otis Redding. The album — famed for having been cut in a span of 24 hours between July 9 and July 10 of 1965 — contains original hits like Respect, I’ve Been Loving…

fun fact!

When Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records first stumbled on Aretha Franklin, he knew Franklin would have the best chance of producing hits down south with his partner at Stax. He called Jim Stewart in Memphis and asked him if he would take Franklin’s contract. Jim Stewart, then busy trying to maintain a quickly growing label with…

All I’m Askin’: Aretha Franklin, 1967

Singers have been “covering” other artists’ songs for generations now. A cover song, or often colloquially simply, “cover,” is a song that has already been released by a different artist, but has been renewed and reinvented — or, “covered” — by a different artist. Historically and practically, cover songs offer practice and inspiration to developing artists, while also — at…

Just Hold On: Etymology, Part 2

It’s time to dig again into the nature of the genre of soul music. When one looks up the definition of “soul music” — not “soul” as we had investigated before — online, one finds various versions with some common elements. Google calls soul music a kind of music incorporating elements of rhythm and blues and gospel music,…

Got Me Spinnin’: STAX Records, Memphis, TN

We are of course dedicated to capturing the people and spirits who give birth to the sounds we hear: the singers and instrumentalists. They, after all, embody the very musicality we admire and ultimately cling to, even though people in other positions — engineers, producers, and writers — play critical roles too. Yet, these artists and their…

Another Start: Leon Bridges, 2015

It’s really exciting when I hear a new sound from an artist I’ve never heard of before, especially if the artist abides by the soul tradition. Sometimes I would dig a little more deeply only to find out that the artist really isn’t new at all, and that the artist is new only to me. …

Goodbye With Words: Amy Winehouse, 2006

Today, we feature an artist who has carried on the legacy and lasting impact of soul music since its apogee in the 50s and 60s with a defiance that Otis Redding demonstrated with his authenticity. She would have the vocal genius to carve out her own purview of soul, blues, funk and jazz with unrivaled — and effortless — musicality. Amy…

Grateful I Will Be: Otis Redding, 1962

The precise meaning of “soul music” requires a deeper investigation. For now, we might consider it literally, as music that moves, and is at once borne from, the soul, that primordial, inexplicable spirit that injects life into all things seen, heard, and witnessed. It’s music that is unfiltered and honest, open to our qualms and longings, candid as…

Fun Fact!

Otis Redding never learned to read or write music. Everything he did was simply by ear and feeling; he conveyed to fellow musicians what he wanted by singing, shouting, or dancing and rocking his body until everyone understood.