KEY -  Black author - Highly recommended  ︎


Doo-wop, funk, Motown, contemporary R&B.
Origins: 1960s.


  • Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise & Fall of the Motown Sound by Nelson George, 1985.

  • Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye by David Ritz, 1985.

  • Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom by Peter Guralnick, 1986. ︎

  • The Death of Rhythm and Blues by Nelson George, 1988.

  • One Nation Under A Groove: Motown & American Culture by Gerald Early, 1995.

  • Miss Rhythm: The Autobiography of Ruth Brown, Rhythm and Blues Legend by Ruth Brown, Andrew Yule, 1996.

  • Just My Soul Responding: Rhythm and Blues, Black Consciousness, and Race Relations by Brian Ward, 1998.

  • A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race & the Soul of America by Craig Werner, 1998.

  • Calling Out Around the World: A Motown Reader by Kingsley Abbott, 2001.

  • Brother Ray: Ray Charles' Own Story by Ray Charles, David Ritz, 2004.

  • Luther: The Life and Longing of Luther Vandross by Craig Seymour, 2004. ︎

  • Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, and the Rise and Fall of American Soul by Craig Werner, 2004.

  • Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke by Peter Guralnick, 2006.

  • Party Music: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers Band and How Black Power Transformed Soul Music by Rickey Vincent, 2013.

  • Soul Train: The Music, Dance, and Style of a Generation by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, 2013.  ︎

  • Love, Peace and Soul: Behind the Scenes of America's Favorite Dance Show Soul Train by Ericka Blount Danois, 2013.

  • My Life with Earth, Wind, & Fire by Maurice White, Herb Powell, 2016.  ︎

  • Got to Be Something Here: The Rise of the Minneapolis Sound by Andrea Swensson, 2017.

  • Bruce W. Talamon. Soul. R&B. Funk. Photographs 1972–1982 by Pearl Cleage, 2018.

  • Time Is Tight: My Life Note by Note by Booker T. Jones, October 2019.

  • Move On Up: Chicago Soul Music and Black Cultural Power by Aaron Cohen, 2019.

  • The Meaning of Soul: Black Music and Resilience Since the 1960s by Emily J. Lordi, July 2020.

  • Why Solange Matters by Stephanie Phillips, April 2021.


  • The T.A.M.I. Show (James Brown & The Rolling Stones), dir. Steve Binder, 1964. 2h 3min. ︎

  • Soul to Soul, dir. Denis Sanders, 1971. 1h 36m.

  • Wattstax, dir. Mel Stuart, prod. Stax Records, 1973. 1h 43min. ︎

  • Soul Power, dir. Jeff Levy-Hinte, 2008. 1h 33m.

  • Finding the Funk, dir. Nelson George, 2013. 1h 18m. 

  • Mr Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown, dir. Alex Gibney, October 2014. 2 hours.

  • What Happened, Miss Simone? dir. Liz Garbus, 2015. 1h 41m. Available on Netflix.

  • Hitsville: The Making of Motown, dir. Benjamin Turner, Gabe Turner, 2019. 1h 52m. ︎



  • “Souls Intact: The Soul Performances of Audre Lorde, Aretha Franklin, and Nina Simone” by Emily Lordi, Women & Performance, 2016.  ︎

  • Barbara Lynn” by National Endowment for the Arts, July 2018.