Introduction to Gospel, R&B, and Soul Music Over the past century, popular music has gone through many trends, and new genres have formed out of a multitude of music and performing styles. An example is the way that gospel music—particularly the style sung by African-Americans throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—helped to inspire modern performers as diverse as Kanye West and Adele. Of course, these changes didn’t happen overnight. They occurred as gospel music slowly turned into two parallel and related forms of music: R&B and soul music. These two genres are among the most popular and influential ever created, and their evolution has affected all of popular music. You can hear the complex vocal arrangements common in these genres in classic groups like The Beatles and even in boy bands like N’Sync. And the hard-driving rhythms of R&B and soul are all over hip-hop and dance music. Gospel, R&B, and soul music have not remained static and unchanging. Every decade has brought new musical ideas, more skilled artists, and improved production and performing techniques. Each of these aspects helped to make soul and R&B into some of the most predominant music styles of today.


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