Move On UpChicago Soul Music and Black Cultural Power

Move On UpChicago Soul Music and Black Cultural Power

Aaron Cohen

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780226176079

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book looks at the social and cultural changes in Chicago that shaped soul music (or R&B) in the city primarily during the 1960s and 1970s, as well as how the musicians and their audiences became change agents. A key argument is that more than just a series of hits or a monolithic sound, R&B from this time and place reflected significant stylistic differences and became a crucial source of black empowerment. Curtis Mayfield, The Chi-Lites, Chaka Khan, and Jerry Butler are some of the musicians who are highlighted in the narrative as are the influences that shaped their work. Numerous other performers who collaborated with musicians from different backgrounds, or defied segregation to create their own strong statements of identity are also included. As the book shows, soul music also helped spark the rise of African American advertising firms and black elected officials in Chicago. This account is told through original interviews with more than 100 musicians, producers, educators, entrepreneurs, and activists. These voices are combined with an examination of recordings and historical media accounts. Contemporary musicological and sociological scholarship is also included to add perspectives. The book fills a gap in contemporary cultural studies as Chicago has been underrepresented in books on soul music, despite the city’s large population, influential artists, and prominent place in African American history.