The classic balladeers of soul were the '60s originals who combined gospel fervor with secular sexuality to create the idiomtheir remarkable voices adding the crowning touch. And there's little disagreement as to who among these pioneers held the titles of queen and king: Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding ruled.
The 70s are generally perceived as the disco years, when soul music was put to rest. But classic soul styles adapting to disco. The Staple Singers, a popular gospel group through the '50s and '60s, went secular in 1970, applying moral (but not overtly religious) themes to Southern soul and funk. They enjoyed one of their biggest hits mid-decade with the theme song Let's Do It Again, written and produced by Curtis Mayfield for Sidney Poitier's film comedy. Luther Ingram hit in 1972 with (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right, a radically rearranged version of a song the Emotions recorded two years earlier, and one of the last great Stax hits.
- John Morthland