It can hardly be denied that the past 20 years of American popular music have been shaped by the deep and resilient influence of 1960s soul.1 Artists such as Adele, John Legend, Corinne Bailey Rae, and the late Amy Winehouse have all been heavily influenced by the sounds, artists, and recording methods that characterized the genre’s 60s heyday.2 While these artists may have tapped this era for inspiration, others, such as Leon Bridges, Moses Sumney, and Meshell Ndegeocello, have found themselves pigeonholed by the genre’s rigid constraints.3 As Bridges told The Guardian in 2018, despite his soft-spoken, crooner sensibilities, his sound was often lumped together thoughtlessly with more emotive “soul shouting” vocalists with whom he had little in common.4 In the same feature story, other contemporary Black artists describe how...
An Imperfect Legacy: Soul Music and the Expectations of Authenticity
Vincent Meserko is a lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Dr. Meserko teaches classes in rhetorical criticism, persuasion, and public speaking, and his research investigates the concept of “authenticity” as it plays out in popular music and new communication technologies.
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Vince Meserko; An Imperfect Legacy: Soul Music and the Expectations of Authenticity. Journal of Popular Music Studies 1 June 2021; 33 (2): 15–22. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jpms.2021.33.2.15
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