Rhythm and Soul

“It is pretty much agreed that the list of jazz divas would include Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae and Anita O’Day.” so says Jazz Singing historian Well Friedwald in his Biographical Guide. Agreed. But I would not include Dinah in this list, I would agree with Friedwald that she is the lead in his “Dinah’s Daughters” group, along with Gloria Lynne, Lorez Alexandria and I would add Dakota Staton and Marlena Shaw. “They formulated styles that were equal parts jazz. mainstream pop and blues (or R&B with more than a bit of gospel", says Friedwald. We’re calling them Rhythm and Soul.

What is Rhythm and Blues?
Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African-American communities in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz-based music with a heavy, insistent beat" was becoming more popular.

image of Gloria LynneGLORIA LYNNE (1929–2013) was a jazz vocalist who climbed onto the pop charts with her recording of “I Wish You Love” in 1964 and continued singing for more than half a century.

Image of Marlena ShawMARLENA SHAW (1942- ) is a jazz, blues, and soul singer who began her singing career in the 1960s and is still singing today. Her music has often been sampled in hip hop music and used in television commercials.

Image of Dinah Washington

DINAH WASHINGTON (1924-1963) was the most popular black female recording artist of the 1950s. Primarily a jazz vocalist, she sang in a wide variety of styles and gave herself the title of "Queen of the Blues.”

image of Lorez AlexandriaLOREZ ALEXANDRIA (1929-2001) was described as "one of the most gifted and underrated jazz singers of the Golden Age era."

Image of Dakota StatonDAKOTA STATON (1930-2007) was out of the Dinah Washington school. She had that natural swing built right into her voice, a wonderful feeling for the blues, and great spontaneous instincts when it came to interacting with her musicians.


Soul music, a term adopted to describe African American popular music as it evolved from the 1950s to the ’70s. Some view soul as merely a new term for rhythm and blues. In fact, a new generation of artists profoundly reinterpreted the sounds of the rhythm-and-blues pioneers of the 1950s — Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Sam Cooke, and Ray Charles, whose music found popularity among whites and was transformed into rock and roll.

If rock and roll, represented by performers such as Elvis Presley, can be seen as a white reading of rhythm and blues, soul is a return to African American music’s roots — gospel and blues. The style is marked by searing vocal intensity, the use of church-rooted call-and-response, and extravagant melisma. If in the 1950s Charles was the first to secularize pure gospel songs, that transformation realized its full flowering in the work of Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul,” who, after six years of notable work on Columbia Records, began her glorious reign in 1967 with her first hits for Atlantic Records: “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)” and “Respect.” Before Franklin, though, soul music had exploded largely through the work of Southern artists such as James Brown and Southern-oriented labels such as Stax/Volt.

(Encyclopedia Britannica)


Rock and roll has been described as a merger of country music and rhythm and blues, but, if it were that simple, it would have existed long before it burst into the national consciousness. The seeds of the music had been in place for decades, but they flowered in the mid-1950s when nourished by a volatile mix of Black culture and white spending power. Black vocal groups such as the Dominoes and the Spaniels began combining gospel-style harmonies and call-and-response singing with earthy subject matter and more aggressive rhythm-and-blues rhythms. Heralding this new sound were disc jockeys such as Alan Freed of Cleveland, Ohio, Dewey Phillips of Memphis, Tennessee, and William (“Hoss”) Allen of WLAC in Nashville, Tennessee — who created rock-and-roll radio by playing hard-driving rhythm-and-blues and raunchy blues records that introduced white suburban teenagers to a culture that sounded more exotic, thrilling, and illicit than anything they had ever known. In 1954 that sound coalesced around an image: that of a handsome white singer, Elvis Presley, who sounded like a black man.

To see the video in full screen, click the icon in the lower right-hand corner, and to get back, do the same. IMPORTANT:

“Call Me Irresponsible”
Jimmy Van Heusen-
Sammy Cahn
Oscar Winner 1962

Ray Noble

"Travelin' Light"
Mundy - Mercer

"Go Away, Little Boy"
Adapted from the song
'Go Away, Little Girl"
Gerry Goffin and Carol King

Dinah Washington
“All I Want”