Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South

Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South

by Charles L. Hughes

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Overview

In the sound of the 1960s and 1970s, nothing symbolized the rift between black and white America better than the seemingly divided genres of country and soul. Yet the music emerged from the same songwriters, musicians, and producers in the recording studios of Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee, and Muscle Shoals, Alabama--what Charles L. Hughes calls the "country-soul triangle." In legendary studios like Stax and FAME, integrated groups of musicians like Booker T. and the MGs and the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section produced music that both challenged and reconfirmed racial divisions in the United States. Working with artists from Aretha Franklin to Willie Nelson, these musicians became crucial contributors to the era's popular music and internationally recognized symbols of American racial politics in the turbulent years of civil rights protests, Black Power, and white backlash.

Hughes offers a provocative reinterpretation of this key moment in American popular music and challenges the conventional wisdom about the racial politics of southern studios and the music that emerged from them. Drawing on interviews and rarely used archives, Hughes brings to life the daily world of session musicians, producers, and songwriters at the heart of the country and soul scenes. In doing so, he shows how the country-soul triangle gave birth to new ways of thinking about music, race, labor, and the South in this pivotal period.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469622446
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 03/23/2015
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 280
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Charles L. Hughes is director of the Memphis Center at Rhodes College.

What People are Saying About This

Mark Anthony Neal

The sweet sounds of Soul make it easy to imagine an American South that, perhaps, never existed, where the music had folk dancing across color lines. Those lines remain intact in Charles L. Hughes exhaustively researched and provocative book Country Soul: Making Music and Making in the American South. In it, Hughes celebrates the most American of American music and the genius of musicians who may not have changed the world, but certainly made the world a better sounding place.

Karl Hagstrom Miller University of Virginia

With Country Soul, Charles L. Hughes offers a much-needed revisionist history of southern soul and country music, one that takes the music and musicians seriously while remaining critical of both the contemporary racial politics of the music business and the accumulated romanticism of the surrounding scholarship. It's a massive achievement and a gentle ode to the legacy of musicians who built American culture before being tossed out of the history books

From the Publisher

The sweet sounds of Soul make it easy to imagine an American South that, perhaps, never existed, where the music had folk dancing across color lines. Those lines remain intact in this exhaustively researched and provocative book. In it, Charles L. Hughes celebrates the most American of American music and the genius of musicians who may not have changed the world, but certainly made the world a better-sounding place.—Mark Anthony Neal, author Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture and the Post-Soul Aesthetic

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