Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke

Southern soul is a subgenre of R&B that originated in the Southern United States.

According to AllMusic, “Southern Soul is gritty, funky soul that borrows equally from the fervor of Southern gospel and the hard-driving energy of R&B. It is distinguished by a passionate, gospel-tinged singer, punchy horns, chicken-scratch guitars, and tight rhythm sections. Southern soul emerged in the ’60s and reigned until the end of the decade, when smoother Philadelphia soul became popular. In the ’80s and ’90s, Southern soul resurfaced as a revivalist genre.”

Notable southern soul artists include Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and Aretha Franklin.

Discover the genre’s essential tracks with our Classic Southern Soul playlist below.

Discover other subgenres in our Subgenre Spotlight series.