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The Cities of Soul: Chicago

Orchestrated, big, political, profound, uplifting, spiritual these are the sounds of Chicago soul and let's not forget the voices.  Curtis Mayfield, Jerry Butler, Jackie Wilson, Etta James, Minnie Ripperton these people told us People Get Ready, Why Don't You Check Out Your Mind, Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher, At Last, I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun.  Musicality came from Chicago, the electrified blues came from Chicago, and shaped Soul forever.  Howlin Wolf and Muddy Waters headed a movement electrifying their Delta Blues in small clubs across the Northern boom town.  Their two guitar, bass, and drums lineup playing the 12 Bar Blues turnaround would be the same recreated in Britain. Fed back to America in the form of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, both would have American releases on Chicago Soul/Blues labels. Chicago, where gospel got the blues and brought everyone to church with The Staple Singers and Mahalia Jackson.  Both  crossed over and commanded large secular crowds, their talent  bound to escape Sunday morning.  African Americans escaping the oppression of Jim Crow laws and seeking employment in the industrial North, came to Chicago in the "Great Migration" intermingling with immigrants from Europe.  Born in Czestochowa, Poland Phil and Leonard Chess fell in love with their city's sound and brought it to the world with Chess/Checker Records.  Curtis Mayfield wrote anthems for his generation, becoming a spokesperson and poet of the civil rights era as well as being an innovative guitarist. He released his music and other's Soul artists on his own groundbreaking label Curtom. Donny Hathaway was Soul's great tortured genius who used his demons to create some of Soul's most emotional work. Lou Rawls met Jazz Composer David Axelrod and together they created beautifully complex songs.  Of course there are hundreds of bands that were together for a year, cut a side then broke up, which produced diamonds in their short lifespans. As with the city the sound had it's gritty side and could sometimes out "South" the South.  Otis Clay, Etta James, Muddy and the Wolf all had a sound straight out the Deep South that pleased their Northern audiences.  A city in the middle of the country, not truly Northern filed with Southerners, Chicago's Soul was uniquely it's own.  It's sticky sweet in the Chi-Lites and gritty like a growl from Etta James, poetic when sung by Curtis and woven with the deep Soul of Mahalia Jackson's church.

New Orleans, Memphis, Los Angeles, New York, the Bay Area, Miami, Detroit and Philadelphia all had their own style and stamp on the formation of Soul.  For the next  months the Sound-Clash explores the cities that created Soul music, Friday nights at 10. 


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