Latino musicians help drive "souldies" comeback
A new generation of Latino artists is reinterpreting old R&B classics and producing new ones in a soul music revival that's hot on streaming services, YouTube and music venues.
Why it matters: The music, sometimes called modern "souldies" or "brown-eyed soul," shows the deep, historic influence of Black culture on Latinos.
Details: New artists like the Thee Sacred Souls, Joey Quiñones & Thee Sinseers, Los Yesterdays, and former Kumbia Kings member Frankie J have adopted the old sound for new fans.
- Videos like Trish Toledo's "Do You Love" and Monica Rocha and Cota's Smokey Robinson cover of "You Really Got A Hold On Me," have generated millions of views online.
- Thee Sacred Souls recently performed on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and "CBS Mornings." Others have given concerts to packed crowds across California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
Background: "Brown-eyed soul" refers to pre-Beatles rock and R&B played by mainly Mexican American artists in the 1950s and 1960s, according to various scholars.
- It was inspired by jazz, blues, rock, Latin jazz and even rancheras and norteño music.
- The music became the preferred music genre for low riders in the American Southwest.
Yes, but: It had been years since new performers hit the scene and garnered large audiences.
- Now, new artists are building fresh fan bases because the music feels more authentic and not fake, William Nericcio, a professor of English and comparative literature at San Diego State University, tells Axios.
- "When that many people are moved by Black soulful oldies, especially Latinos, it's because they love love. This is an era of hate."
- "Bad" Vic Benavides of Los Yesterdays tells Axios the pandemic may have helped older and younger generations reconnect with each other as they shared music.
The intrigue: Artists from these groups come from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.
- Thee Sacred Souls is fronted by Josh Lane, a Black singer trained in opera.
- Toledo is the daughter of an Ecuadorian father and a Guatemalan mother.
- Bobby Oroza, whose popular cover of Sunny & The Sunliners' "Should I Take You Home" has been used in a video by Pachuco Supply, was born to a Bolivian mother and Finnish father.
What they're saying: Joey Quiñones tells Axios he tries to keep the music authentic by creating lyrics that mention writing love letters instead of texting them.
- He and other artists watch old footage of James Brown to replicate his sound.
- "But at the end of the day, if you're singing from the heart, and you're telling us your story, it's going to come across as pure and a soul."
- Malik Malo, 30, says he initially started singing modern R&B and shifted to souldies on the advice of a manager.
- "The feedback was incredible."
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