BBC - Soul Deep: The Story of Black Popular Music (2005)

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This foot-stomping six-part series - made by the BBC team who produced the critically-acclaimed "Lost Highway", "Walk on By" and "Dancing in the Streets" series - charts the evolution of soul music, with a fascinating combination of rare archive footage and over 100 contemporary interviews.
In the words of its greatest performers, producers and songwriters, "Soul Deep: The Story of Black Popular Music" is a search through time and place for the roots of black music, the genetic blueprint for nearly all other forms of modern popular music.
From rhythm & blues, soul, Motown, funk and hip hop, we learn the story of the rise…and further rise of black music—the biggest single influence on global popular culture today.
"Soul Deep" is the story of the beat that made the dance floor jump, the sax that made ears ring and the songs that made us laugh and cry. It's the story of legends like James Brown, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and Ray Charles, and of the music that changed the world.
Central to the rise of soul music as a global phenomenon was the independent record labels, from Stax Records in Detroit to Atlantic Records in New York. The importance of the producer in record making is exemplified by Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records, who single-handedly managed to create the most prolific 'music-making factory' the world has ever seen, producing artists such as The Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and The Jackson 5.
Now, after years of struggle for mainstream acceptance, soul music is one of the biggest musical genres in the world and a billion-dollar industry. This landmark documentary reveals how black music has achieved the enviable position of not having to compromise on its 'blackness' or its attitude. 


Part 1: The Birth of Soul: Ray Charles
The term rhythm and blues was coined by Billboard Magazine journalist Jerry Wexler after he was asked by his editor to find an alternative for the label 'race music'. In a previously unseen BBC interview with Ray Charles, he reveals how his innovations first brought soul to a wider audience. As the black sounds crossed the racial divide, rhythm and blues gave birth to rock 'n' roll ΓÇô a far more sanitised version of the black sound which was seen to be "too uninhibited, too loose, and too sweaty." Black artists were squeezed out of the mainstream charts by white covers of their songs and Charles looked back to his roots for his inspiration and the creation of his own distinctive sound.
This first episode tells the story of Ray Charles, "the man who invented soul", and traces the history of Rhythm and Blues, which led to the explosion of Rock and Roll, changing the image of pop music forever. Programme also reviews the rise of James Brown, Louis Jordan and Fats Domino. Film includes interviews with: Ray Charles, James Brown, Ruth Brown, Etta James, Ahmet Ertegun, Jerry Wexler, David "Fathead" Newman and Branford Marsalis.


Part 2: The Gospel Highway: Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke was gospel music's crown prince, the man who inspired a generation of singers when he took on the pop world and won. In the process he became soul music's first superstar. This episode follows Sam Cooke's career as he made the transition from gospel to pop, and profiles some of the artists who followed him: The Staple Singers, Ben E King, Solomon Burke and Johnnie Taylor. By busting open the ivory doors of the pop tower, these artists became the bridge that established the gospel shout as a lasting sound in American music. The Gospel Highway explores the two different worlds that divided the world of Black music before and after that revolutionary moment in 1957 - the year Sam Cooke went pop. It investigates the intriguing, enigmatic 'Gospel Highway' circuit, then enters the bright, fresh, sequined world of late 1950s and early 1960s pop. In his short life, Sam Cooke would dominate both. Interviewees include: Bobby Womack, Solomon Burke, Ben E King, LC Cooke (Sam's brother), Candi Staton, the Fairfield Four, Mavis Staples and Peter Guralnick.


Part 3: The Sound of Young America: Diana Ross
This episode is about Motown's golden age from 1959 - 1967. It traces the Detroit label's extraordinary rise from cottage industry to mighty record giant before chronicling its fall from pop innocence. The Motown sound and its incredible flood of 1960s hits unquestionably changed the landscape of pop. With the Supremes, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, the label rewrote the cultural rule book and created THE sound of young America. Ultimately, it was Motown svengali Berry Gordy who cleverly, brilliantly and ruthlessly concocted a formula that appealed as much to Blacks as to Whites, creating bright-eyed assimilationist soul. As well as celebrating this music, this film also digs beneath the shimmering pop surface to investigate the machinations at work in the Motown camp. Motown's relationship with Chicago's music scene is also investigated. This program unveils an intriguing musical dynamic that existed between these two industrial northern cities in the mid 1960s. Interviewees include: Mary Wilson, Etta James, Martha Reeves, Jerry Butler and Barney Ales.


Part 4: Southern Soul: Otis Redding
In the summer of 1967, Otis Redding performed in front of a 200,000 capacity crowd at the Monterey Pop Festival, the biggest audience of his career. Backed by the Stax Records house band, Booker T & The MGs, Otis gave the crowd a night of unadulterated down home Southern Soul. It blew the psychedelic cobwebs out of the hippies' minds. And they loved it. It was Otis's finest hour. Five years after walking into Stax Records studio in Memphis as an unknown singer, he was now breaking into the mass white market and seducing its counter-culture, without diluting his music one drop. Tragically, Otis didn't live out the year. But for a brief, brilliant time, he emerged as the very embodiment of the 60s soul music. With his music, Otis helped bring black and white together in the mid 1960s before the more racially divisive Black Power era arrived. This episode tells the story of Otis, Southern Soul and how it evoked the sweet dream of freedom. Interviewees include: Steve Cropper (the MGs), Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, Jerry Wexler, David Porter, Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham.


Part 5: Ain't It Funky: James Brown
Funk was a brand new Soul bag. It was the soundtrack to riots and revolution, the heady Black Power era in the second half of the 60s and early 70s. Its tough urban syncopated rhythms brilliantly evoked a time of Black cultural pride and political upheaval. By emphasizing the first beat of every bar in Brand New Bag, Brown created a musical revolution that changed the course of rhythm and blues, opening the way for hip hop. And it was this new edge which influenced two emerging songwriters at Motown, Norman Whitfield and Barratt Strong, who became the architects of that label's psychedelic soul years. Ain't It Funky traces Funk's roots from the raw blueprint of James Brown's Papa's Got A Brand New Bag to the crazy, psychedelic Funk of George Clinton and his Parliament/Funkadelic thang of the mid-70s. Interviewees include: Bootsy Collins, James Brown, George Clinton, Otis Williams (The Temptations), Pee Wee Ellis, Fred Wesley and David Ritz.


Part 6: From Ghetto to Fabulous: Mary J. Blige
Mary J Blige, the queen of hip-hop soul, speaks candidly about her journey from ghetto to fabulous in the final programme of Soul Deep. Her music represents the fusion of R&B and hip-hop and completes the journey that started 50 years ago with the emergence of the early soul sounds of Ray Charles and ends with black R&B artists' domination of the charts today. Now contemporary R&B is the music that the world spins to. R&B is one of the biggest selling music genres, worldwide its performers are among the most conspicuous celebrities on the planet with mighty corporations queuing up to recruit them to promote their products. This episode investigates how R&B arrived at its lofty heights. An extraordinary story unfolds, tracing the diamond-dripping, premiere-attending world of today's R&B stars, right back to the crack streets of Harlem in the mid 80s. It's also the story of how Mary J Blige's troubled journey revolutionised the sound of modern pop and in doing so took black music from the ghetto to fabulous. The episode includes appearances by Beyonce, Destiny's Child, Whitney Houston, P. Diddy, Anita Baker and The Fugees among others.