The History of R&B

Rhythm and blues--famously known as R&B--is the term used for a wide range of musical styles black Americans created in the 1940s. Some of the styles under the R&B umbrella include gospel, soul, funk and even pop.

R&B's predecessors are often credited as jazz and the blues, particularly the music scenes of urban industrial centers, such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit and New York. It is from these genres that R&B musicians formed comparatively simpler ensembles, which usually consisted of a pianist, one or two guitar players, a bassist, a drummer and a saxophonist.

From 1948 onward, black music was marketed as "rhythm and blues," a term attributed to music journalist/producer Jerry Wexler. In the 1950s, as the hits began to rack up, R&B provided a template for another genre: rock 'n' roll.

The R&B market was dominated by Berry Gordy's Motown Records in the 1960s, with such acts as the Temptations, Diana Ross and the Supremes, and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. R&B also was referred to as soul music. Sam Cooke was as one of the founders of that style, which combined elements of gospel music.

Later, "R&B" was applied as a blanket term for more than just soul music. It also included funk, the danceable, more rhythmic product of soul and jazz; and disco, a genre of dance music.

R&B is now referred to as "contemporary R&B." This term is used to define a genre of black-dominated pop that traces its roots as far back as the demise of disco in the late '70s and early '80s.

Approved by Jesse Anderson