The only difference between the rhythm and blues (R&B) and gospel is with gospel you sing "Oh Lord," while with Rhythm and Blues soul music you sing "Oh Baby." Gospel music was the root beginnings of soul music however it is not merely the root that make R&B what it is today.
R& B soul music came to life as its own genre during the 50's. While its origins may have began around the northern cities of America like Chicago it wasn't long before other cities followed suit like Memphis, Detroit, New York, Florence, and Philadelphia.
Many artists throughout the years helped develop what is known as R&B soul music such as artist like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Barry White, Luther Vandrose, James Brown, and Issac Hayes to mention just a few.
Soul music origin's came from the influence of gospel music and the more traditional R&B sounds. The R&B soul sound of Memphis was more influenced by the gospel mix in cities like Memphis, than was the rhythm and blues soul of Detroit, which came up to become the smooth, polished sounds of Motown by artist such as Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, and Marvin Gaye.
If were to have to pick the top ten all time best R&B Soul artists one would be hard pressed to limit the list to ten. You could take into consideration the artists contributions to the music industry, however, most R&B artists have contributed in one fashion or another.
Early top soul artists would have to include Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Sam Cooke, and Elvis. Then as soul music took on a bit more groove to it and became known more by Motown/Soul in the late 60's and 70's you would have to add artists names such as Nina Simone, Jackie Wilson, Etta James, Ray Charles, Little Richard, and James Brown.
However, that leaves out a lot of influential R&B soul artists that have contributed so much to the still existing sound of rare soul music found in may of the more current soundtracks of today's artists like Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Al Green, Gladys Knight, Chaka Kahn, Brian McKnight, Kenny G, and R. Kelly. The list could go on forever, as I am sure many of you are aware.
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