Northern soul is a music and dance movement that emerged in Northern England in the late 1960s from the British mod scene. Northern soul mainly consists of a particular style of black American soul music based on the heavy beat and fast tempo of the mid-1960s Tamla Motown sound.
The northern soul movement, however, generally eschews Motown or Motown-influenced music that has met with significant mainstream success. The recordings most prized by enthusiasts of the genre are usually by lesser-known artists, released only in limited numbers, often by small regional American labels such as Ric-Tic and Golden World Records (Detroit), Mirwood (Los Angeles) and Shout and Okeh (New York/Chicago).
William Christopher Handy (November 16, 1873 – March 28, 1958) was a bluescomposer and musician. He was widely known as the “Father of the Blues”.
Handy remains among the most influential of American songwriters. Though he was one of many musicians who played the distinctively American form of music known as the blues, he is credited with giving it its contemporary form. While Handy was not the first to publish music in the blues form, he took the blues from a regional music style with a limited audience to one of the dominant national forces in American music.
Handy was an educated musician who used folk material in his compositions. He was scrupulous in documenting the sources of his works, which frequently combined stylistic influences from several performers.
Without the blues, there would have been no Duke Ellington. There would have been no Elvis Presley. There would have been no British Invasion, and there’d be no hip hop. There’d be, in essence, no recognizable popular American music as we now know it. So, in celebration of the father of everything we listen to today, some of his music.
The word “genius” gets bandied about in the most disagreeable fashion. When the same term can be applied to Stephen Hawking as well as the latest pop flavor-of-the-month, we’ve reached a point of not being able to discern the genuine article from mere frippery.
However, composer/musician Sufjan Stevens fits the bill. His songs are swirling soundscapes, as informed by pop craft as serious compositional strategies. His lyrics are spare, cutting poems. Every one of his albums is the work of a master; and the frightening thing is that he’s only 38, just entering into fully harnessing his powers.
So, for our evening music chat, a bit of the genius that is Sufjan Stevens.