Rhythm and Blues
Like many music genres, the term of Rhythm and Blues is an umbrella term that covers a variety of music, referring to the rhythm of the backbeat that was influenced by rock and roll, while the chord changes were reminiscent of the blues. R&B’s origins can be rooted in jazz, blues, and gospel.
It used to be that rock and roll record companies would describe R&B as ‘race music’ simply because of the artists being African-American. R&B thrived in the 1950’s, and much of it was played by artists of other genres, such as Jazz. Ray Charles, Ruth Brown, and Fats Domino could be considered the most famous R&B artists back then.
As sales continued to climb with R&B, a new style of music called Soul began to emerge. With the sixties, and the innovation of Funk by James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone, R&B sort of evolved into what is known as Contemporary R&B. After the disco era, there was a pop/R&B combination that was made popular by eighties artists like Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, and Tina Turner. It was during this time that a softer version of R&B was developed known as Quiet Storm, named after a Smoky Robinson song of the same name.
The nineties brought a whole new crop of R&B talent such as Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey, and TLC. At the time, it began to grow vitrually impossible to tell the difference between R&B and the rising tide of hip hop artists. R&B is a continually developing genre whose influence can be seen in most modern artists from Usher to Britney Spears.