Ring in the R&B

R&B ringtones continue to be some of the most popular and most downloaded ring tones in the market. They consistently top the ringtone charts and message boards are often clogged with requests for R&B songs. What is the cause of R&B’s appeal?

Short for rhythm and blues, the term was first used by Billboard magazine’s Jerry Wexler to describe the unique sound performed by African American artists of that time. This combination of jazz, gospel and blues was characterized by a catchy back beat. Today, the term has also expanded to include soul and funk, and other songs that were inspired by African-American pop that replaced disco as the “sound” of the 80’s.

R&B typically has a background of guitar, bass, saxophone, drums or keyboard. It includes doo wop, which was a precursor to rock and roll, and hard bop. Jazz and R&B are so closely intertwined that many artists did both, swinging between the two genres.

The first well known R&B artists were Jay McShann’s, Tiny Bradshaw’s, Johnny Otis, Count Basie and. Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson (he was the best example of one-man fusion, who was both a skilled bebop saxophonist and blues shouter). R&B later developed regional variations, such as the New Orleans sound. Great artists included Great Fats Domino, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Frankie Ford, Irma Thomas, The Neville Brothers, and Dr. John.

But it was in the 80’s, with James Brown’s soul music and the psychedelic innovations of Sly & the Family Stone that R&B began to develop its “modern” sound and fully infiltrated mainstream music.

R&B is sometimes called urban contemporary or urban pop. It’s known by its sophisticated electronic productions, with cathy drum beat and very smooth vocals. Luther Vandross, Prince, Michael Jackson made R&B very popular, along with female singers like Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson. Tina Turner made a comeback, while New Kids on the Block and The Backstreet Boys sent millions of girls screaming. Keith Sweat, BellBivdeVoe and Boyz II Men all brought their own innovations, as well as R&B balladeers like Babyface and Brian McKnight.

In the 90’s R&B took an edgier tone with alternative rock, adult contemporary, and gangsta rap. Mary J. Blige. Blige. R. Kelly, Montell Jordan, Brandy, and Aaliyah introduced slang and attitude to the R&B scene, and their influence can be seen in the works of Jaheim, Ashanti, Amerie, and Keyshia Cole. Lauryn Hill, and Maxwell hve also tried to combine R&B with other genres.

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