This Chart of Soul Singers from the 1970s has been a print I've wanted to create for a long time. It's a genre of music (specifically from this decade) that I fell in love with at a very young age. Both my parents loved soul/funk artists and it was always my favorite genre that they played when we were in the car together.
What made me fall even deeper in love with this era of music was its impact on the culture of America following The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Most of my earliest memories of learning about this era in American history came from listening to soul music from the backseat of my dad's car.
Although the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 by the 1970s the nation was still very much in the midst of political and cultural turmoil. It was during this period of time that soul singers like Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and many others used their music to elevate their voices for equality. It was music that is filled with hope, frustration, heartache, and a plea for equality for all people.
It's one of the first times I realized that art mattered. That art could change the world. That these artists were more than singers. They were voices of a generation pleading for a better world.
But the soul singer I loved the most. The one whose words left a lasting impression on me was Curtis Mayfield. Originally the lead singer of The Impressions but by the 70s he went solo and really ventured out into music that spoke of quality and uplifted his community. he's a man whose art I've long admired.
I recently picked up a biography about Curtis. I knew a few details about his life (stories my dad would tell me between songs) but not very much aside from that. And he's rapidly becoming one of my heroes.
Halfway through his biography and I've taken copious notes and book–darted like every other page. He's such a masterful musician, a brilliant businessman with a passionate and courageous heart.
This era of music really is at the heart of everything I love—history, powerful music, and artists expressing themselves in the rawest and most vulnerable ways because they don't know any other way to be.
Chart of Soul Singers from the 1970s
An era of art and music that was pioneered by so many powerhouse vocalists who had a profound impact both on the music industry and the culture of America.