Wayne's R&B World


New York's Rhythm and Blues Scene

James Brown "The Godfather of Soul"

Aretha Franklin "The Queen of Soul"

Ruth Brown

Marvin Gaye

The Temptations

The Jackson Five

Otis Redding

Patti LaBelle

Stevie Wonder

The Supremes

 

The Four Tops 

 

The Apollo Theater

Paramount Theater

Roseland Ballroom

Rhythm and Blues: The Music of the People

     This website is dedicated to all lovers of Rhythm and Blues and especially those who reside in New York City, which many consider to be the birthplace and greatest nurturer of this unique musical art form.  It is also designed to bring in those of you who are not familiar with the music or its subtle influences on our daily lives.  Of the various genres of music that have been attributed to African-Americans, R&B is arguably the most popular, enduring, and imitated of them all among its many fans regardless of one's ethnicity, race, origin, or geographic location.  The music itself is an offshoot of both Black Gospel Music, Jazz and the Blues, the three original forms of music expression that are immediately associated with the Black experience in America.  Whether one is a fan of "old school" or Contemporary R&B, this music raises a sustained level of consciousness in its patrons that is the envy of most other art forms.  In a nutshell, it's the "bomb" baby.

Rhythm and Blues in New York

    New York City is historically steeped in the R&B music scene and the culture that has developed around it going back to its earliest beginnings in the late 1940s when it was then popularly known as Rock and Roll by masses of American and worldwide music fans.  The term Rhythm and Blues is widely attributed to Jerry Wexler, a progressive, pioneering music producer and editor at Billboard Magazine.  Also commonly known as "soul music" because of its ability to reach its listeners in the most secluded recesses of their beings, R&B is identifiable by the resonance of bass guitars, drumbeats, and soulful vocals that permeate our psyches and captivate even the most passive among us.  It has often been said that "music is a universal language".  If this is so, then R&B is a language of cosmic proportions in its own right.

    Rhythm and Blues encompasses several types of postwar African-American popular music, and many white artists adopted this terminology a it became more mainstream.  The aforementioned Jerry Wexler found previous descriptions used to categorize black popular music in 1947 appalling.  In the past terms such as Harlem Hit Parade, Sepia, Race, etc.  At Wexler's urging, Billboard changed the chart's name in its June 17, 1949 issue, and it was an easy fit since the magazine had been using the words "rhythm and blues" in news articles for the several years prior to that time.  Although the records that appeared on Billboard's "rhythm-and-blues" charts thereafter were in a variety of different styles, the term was used as a catchall for a host of contemporary forms of black music during that time period.

R&B Artists & NYC Venues

    Rhythm and Blues came into vogue prior to the advent of Rock and Roll.  Its early influences were Jump Blues, Jazz, and Black Gospel Music, where many of these artists sang in their churches as children.  In turn, it has also influenced all of these genres and they often intertwine with one another because of their strong roots within African-American communities across the United States.  Some of the many artists who were spawned by the popularity and growth of the R&B industry were James Brown, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Temptations, Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Jackson 5, Patti LaBelle, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, Wilson Picket, Otis ReddingAretha Franklin, Ben E. King, Mariah Carey, The Isley Brothers, Jackie Wilson, and Lauryn Hill, most of whom were early luminaries of Rhythm and Blues.  There were thousands of theaters and clubs around the country where these R&B performers could and did play.  However, no other city could boast an array of venues such as New York City.  During the late 1940s and early 1950s the Big Apple, as New York is popularly known, possessed dozens of theaters and hundreds of clubs played host to all of the above and countless other acts at the beginnings of their careers.  Any  artists who could perform and be accepted in New York, knew that their chances for success and longevity in the business would greatly increase.  The most popular of these venues was in New York's Harlem at the world famous Apollo Theater, where many of these now legendary performers first achieved nationwide and then worldwide acclaim.  Another extremely popular showplace was the much larger Paramount Theater, located in downtown Brooklyn, where some of the most rousing R&B and Rock and Roll theatric events took place.  Although the Paramount still exist, it no longer serves in the same capacity.  However, the Apollo is still going strong and has become a huge tourist attraction in recent years.  In addition to these and other major music houses, there were other "not-so-legal clubs that many artists flocked to in order to perform and and mingle with the regular folk.  Some of the best sessions into the wee hours of the morning were heard in these mostly obscure "after-hours" clubs.  All-in-all, New York "kept it real" and hosted all of the celebrated and lesser known R&B recording artists of that time, a tradition that is kept up until this very day.

R&B on the Airwaves and in the Clubs

    New York's radio stations have also played a major role in the ever popular Rhythm and Blues phenomenon.  Stations like WWRL, WBLS, and WRKS have held sway over their audiences with steady Oldies grooves, as well as more Contemporary R&B, although in recent times the WWRL has changed its format to accommodate the ever-growing "talk-radio" that has become increasingly popular.  There are various other New York stations that showcase the talents of upcoming artists and cater to listening preferences of R&B fans.  For more information about these other radio venues, you might want to check out OnTheRadio.net to hear all the sounds that make us remember the best and worst times of our lives.  The current state of New York's nightlife is as vibrant as ever and for those of you who prefer your music up close and personal, there are a variety of clubs that meet the needs of anyone who is looking for an R&B "fix" in the city that never sleeps.  Unlike other major American cities, the Big Apple keeps the vibe going 24-7 plus.  For your listening, viewing and dancing pleasure, there are a few websites that should help soothe the passion inside you and take you to the into a realm of complete ecstasy.  If you really want to "feel" your music and get away from the  uptown touristy scene, there are a vast number of places that will not only satisfy that part of your soul, but your palette as well.  A number of clubs also provide food to their patrons, but almost always at a price.For those of you who think that there is only one borough in New York City, R&B in Brooklyn Clubs and Bars is a guide that will give you an idea about what is available outside of the "city" as Manhattan is called and into New York's most populous borough.  Although it is not as glitzy or possess the glamour that is associated with its sister borough, Brooklyn does have a diversity and unique "flavor" of its own.  If your preference is the glitz and glitter of the dance  clubs of Manhattan, then here is a website that will suit your tastes.  New York Dance Clubs notes that these are the "best" in the city, however, my favorite for many years did not make their listing.  The Roseland Ballroom is the number one spot to be, especially when Felix Hernandez is the DJ at his Classic Soul dance parties eight or nine months of the year.  The music is superb and in a truly time honored format that Hernandez has perfected over the past seventeen years at Roseland.  He is also the host of two of the most talked about radio programs that focus on R&B music and the history of hundreds of individual artists and groups on stations WKRS and WBGO, and for my money he's the best in the business.  Well people, I hope that you have enjoyed viewing this website as much as I have in creating it.  Rhythm and Blues music was my inspiration and you can bet that this is not over.  Look for updates because this site is still in development.  Enjoy the beats.  Power to the music and "peace out"!