Many people sometimes wonder why so many (but not all) of the world's most significant musicians and singers have gotten their start in the United States. It's not just that the U.S. culture can be said to glorify entertainment and celebrity over everything else, and it's not just because everyone wants to be an American. Many music history experts find that so much music comes from the U.S. simply because it is a diverse country, and because its people represent a plethora of significant life experiences that can't be matched by any other nation's population. The entire genre of 70's soul music can be credited as an expression of the experiences of black Americans.
If you've ever wondered what 70's soul music was really all about, you have to take a little lesson in African-American history. As descendents of those Africans that had been brought to America as slaves and servants, the African musicians must deal with an ongoing internal struggle that often plays itself out in their music. Proud of being American, yet indignant at the way their people were treated for far too long in that country, black artists find a need to deal with their emotions in song; this is precisely why their music has so much "soul."
Defined as a genre that combines elements of the boisterous gospel sound and the emotional vibe of rhythm and blues, there can be no doubt that 70's soul music was and is the sound of the African-American experience. Soul music musicians were known for their flamboyant style of dress, their spirited handclapping during songs, and their funky dance moves. Although it had gospel roots, the genre became completely secularized, despite the fact that it still mimicked the "call and response" aspect of traditional African-American choir music.
It's common for most radio stations to play 70's soul music as "oldies" or "classics" but it's important to realize that this music was very different from a lot of the hair bands and rock that were coming out over the radio waves at the time. If you look for lists of popular soul music artists are records online, you're likely to find them mixed in with other genres of music. This is an example of the blended background that influenced soul music and encouraged people of all nationalities and races to become engaged with its underlying message: survival and celebration about life, and love and the ongoing struggle.