The globally popular and universally influential music genre of Rock has undergone a number of changes, transitions and alterations during its existence. Regardless of which traits spawned its numerous subgenres, most listeners have an idea of what basic characteristics define a rock song. Here’s a better question: What makes a rock song soulful?
Rock’n Roll is unequivocally the defiant, rebellious offspring of traditional soul music; it’s questioned authority, threw tantrums, talked back to its teachers and elders, and stormed out of rooms. Filled with and fueled by unquenchable passion, Rock both snarled at the floor in the darkest basements and smiled at the sky from the highest penthouses. Rock music cursed at itself in the mirror, yelled in its parents’ faces, aggressively stood up for those in need, and cried the hardest at funerals.
Creating soulful rock music is an art.
Here in Art of Rock & Soul Part I, a LiquidAE.com exclusive Art 101 series, we reveal 10 of the most soulful rock singers of all time!
Lenny Kravitz An unmistakable vocal, Kravitz just melts right into the melody. When he sings he becomes one with the edgy, soulful music. Try listening to “I Belong to You” and not be equally moved and impressed.
Caleb Followill (of Kings of Leon) Caleb’s voice is a mix of anguish and yearning you can’t turn away from. Followill out in front just sucks you right into Kings of Leon’s soulful southern rock.
Ben Harper Mixing blues, reggae, folk, and soul into his own brand of rock brought Ben Harper from underground favorite to multi-time Grammy-winner and every-time soul-stirring singer.
John Mayer John Mayer and his guitar are the evolution of BB King and Lucille; they speak to one another as well as their listeners. Their combined voices are incredibly soulful.
Anthony Kedis (of Red Hot Chili Peppers) Co-founder and lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Anthony Kedis’ blues and funk-influenced wales made a new generation of rockers and rock fans retrace the genres roots, bringing widespread love for his group and the legends they immolated.
Lajon Whitherspoon (of Sevendust) In an interview with SoulTrain.com, Sevendust lead singer Lajon Whitherspoon said this of his soulfulness: “I bring the soul because I consider myself a soul singer. I believe people believe and feel conviction, and that’s where I come from with my singing. It’s real. I hope it never stops me because I can’t undo that.”
Citizen Cope There’s a reason fans across America and beyond flock in drones to Citizen Cope’s shows when his tours roll through their backyards. Each breath from the Memphis-born singer’s lungs has the air of southern hospitality.
Eddie Vedder (of Pearl Jam) Something’s almost Gospel-like to Eddie Vedder’s singing style. A pioneer of the Seattle grunge movement who evolved light years beyond the 90s-born subgenre, the Pearl Jam front man remains one of the most passionate rock singers alive today, and ever.
Joe Cocker Gritty-voiced Englishman Joe Cocker grunted and moaned to music, struggling up notes that sent shockwaves through listeners’ bodies. Cocker is one of the true icons of rock music’s soul revolution. Usually backed by lingering electric guitars and humming bass cords, Cocker’s bluesy delivery screamed soulful. RIP
Prince Prince is not generally categorized as a rock singer, but when His Royal Badness committed himself to singing rock or rock-inspired tunes the results were outstanding! With songs like “U Got the Look” and “Let’s Go Crazy” it was impossible not to include the late great Prince on this list. |
CREDITS: Written by Mr. Joe Walker | Additional insight provided by Bowlegged Lou of Full Force, Stokley Williams of Mint Condition, Malina Moye, Leigh Kakaty of Pop Evil, CJ Haynes, Nik West, and DJ Plastic Vibez | Photos –Search Engine Exploration | Producer – Liquid Arts & Entertainment | Creative Director – The Liquidation Committee | Editor – Mr. Joe Walker | Copy Editor – Mr. Joe Walker | Site Editor – Doug Sims | Webmaster – Doug Sims | Twitter – @LiquidAEMag | Instagram – @liquidmagazine
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