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Where Did R&B Music Come From?

By David Woo ; Updated September 15, 2017

The rhythm and blues genre (R&B) is a result of a great deal of musical evolution, and has a fascinating origin. R&B is an American musical form that continues to influence modern musicians.

Racial Origins

The term R&B originated in the late 1940s. In 1948, RCA Victor marketed black music as blues and rhythm, and in 1949 the term "rhythm and blues" replaced the Billboard category "Harlem Hit Parade."

Cultural Origins

R&B has grown out of African American culture. It shows radical differences from the genres pioneered by Caucasian American and European cultures, such as classical music or rock 'n' roll (though the genre certainly still has ties to these styles).

Aesthetic Origins

The R&B genre is an evolutionary result of multiple African-American genres including jazz, funk, gospel and soul.

Founding Musicians

Some of the most significant musicians who created the R&B sound include Louis Jordan and the Tympany Five, Big Joe Turner, Roy Brown, Billy Wright, Wynonie Harris and Johnny Otis.

Founding Record Labels

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, music was highly segregated. The music produced by blacks was originally marketed as "race music," though this was deemed offensive after World War II. The founders of "race music" include RCA Victor, Savoy Records, Atlantic Records and Chess Records.

References

About the Author

David Woo has been an aspiring journalist and writer since 2008. He contributes to various online mediums including eHow, where he writes about luthiers. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in musicology from the University of California-Berkeley.