Journey Through American Music Episode 5: Soul Stirrings

2008 • 0h 46m

Episode 5 of a musical journey through the origins of American music presented by Morgan Freeman. Each episode mixes documentary and performance whilst retracing the roots of American music and features performances at Montreux from such legendary artists as Muddy Waters, Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Al Green, Carlos Santana, and Eric Clapton.

In this engrossing program, full of live performances and lively opinions, actor Morgan Freeman traces the ancestry and growth of sweet soul music. Soul had its roots in the 1950s when two forms of African-American music came together in a rather unlikely alliance. There were the pure yet emotional gospel sounds of the Southern Baptist church, and the more worldly, rocking approach of rhythm & blues. Freeman presents footage from singers in both houses: Ernestine Anderson and regular chart-topper, LaVern Baker from R&B, and the legendary Mighty Clouds of Joy from gospel.

The program then takes an in-depth look at the man who is often hailed as the father of soul, Ray Charles. In 1954, Charles took an old gospel song and gave it an R&B makeover to come up with "I Got A Woman." For many, that’s where soul began. Morgan even feels moved to sing his own rendition! Another giant figure in the early history of soul was Solomon Burke. He joined Atlantic Records just as Ray Charles was leaving in 1959, and we also see plenty of Solomon here.

The program also features Aaron Neville and his brothers from New Orleans, who brewed their funky version of R&B and early soul from the late ‘50s onwards. Nelson George—America’s foremost black music critic—and soul music historian, Rob Bowman, impart their expert knowledge, while musicians such as Sweet Honey In The Rock and Speech from Arrested Development describe what soul means to them.