Detroit R&B/Soul History

From MusicWiki Detroit
Jump to: navigation, search
This is a Stub Page, Content needs to be added.

Musicwiki Detroit is a Long Term Community project
designed to cover everything music in the Metro Detroit Area.
If you would like to contribute content, please signup


In the 1950's Detroit had an active R&B and soul community but it began in the Great Migration of the early 20th century, when millions of African Americans made their way to industrial cities like Detroit in search of opportunity. In 1949 Billboard magazine coined the phrase “Rhythm & Blues.” R&B replaced previous labels — Race Music, Sepia Music, and Harlem Hit Parade and acknowledged that R&B is distinct from Blues.

Soul music (often referred to simply as soul) is a music genre that originated in the African American community in the United States in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It combines elements of African-American gospel music, rhythm and blues and jazz.


Two Detroit Record labels were instrumental in creating the Detroit R&B/Soul Sound.


Fortune Records Wikipedia an independent record label located in Detroit from 1946 to 1995 was a family run business operated Jack and Devora Brown. From the early 1950s to fall 1956, Fortune had a storefront at 11629 Linwood, however, Fortune's best-known location was at 3942 Third Avenue in a small concrete block building. Fortune moved there in the fall of 1956 and stayed there until the mid-1990s, when the building was sold and vacated. The storefront contained a record shop in the front (the Browns sold their product direct to the public) and the crude 18-by-40 studio in the rear (which originally had a dirt floor).

Releases on Fortune Records were often characterized by raw, unrestrained vocal performances and relatively simple instrumental arrangements, recorded without excessive care for production values. Recording was accomplished via a few microphones to an Ampex one-track tape deck. As a result, the label's records have a distinctively direct sound and often packed considerable emotional power. It is estimated that Fortune Records and its subsidiaries, Hi-Q Records and Strate-8, released approximately 400 45-RPM vinyl records, as well as long-playing albums, during its existence


Motown Records founded in 1959 by Berry Gordy became far bigger Detroit rival then Fortune Records perfecting its highly polished Soul sound with a distinct pop influence which came to be known as the Motown Sound. During the 1960s, Motown achieved spectacular success for a small record company: 79 records in the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100 record chart between 1960 and 1969.