Series 1 - Episode 1



The evolution of soul music is a fascinating and vital subject, both from a musical and socio-political point of view, so this new four-part series has its work cut out.

It begins by examining the tangled roots of the form, via the gospel incantations and secular blues of the Deep South – what is soul if not an impassioned union of the spiritual and the carnal? - and the jazz vocals of artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington.

It also encompasses the tragically short yet enormously influential life and career of soul's great progenitor, Sam Cooke, shot dead in a Memphis hotel in 1964. There are those who maintain he was a victim of his own success. Says his British publicist Opal Louis Nations, “One theory has it that he was not gunned down by a woman in a cheap hotel, but that this was a put-up job because he got in the way. He was too successful.”

Whatever the truth, few would dispute that Cooke triggered a musical revolution of vast cultural import.


Documentary examining the historical and political contexts of the evolution of soul, beginning by heading to the churches of the Deep South to explore its roots in African-American gospel music. Gregory Porter, Chuck D, China Moses and Salim Washington share their thoughts on their favourite artists from the 1950s and 60s, and there is archive footage of Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington and Mamie Smith.

Cast & Crew

Contributor Gregory Porter
Contributor Chuck D
Contributor China Moses
Contributor Salim Washington
Documentary Music