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What Is The True Meaning Of Soul?

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Courtesy of Duke University Press

This episode originally aired on September 7, 2020.

MONDAY on "The Source" — Marlena Shaw's 1969 hit "California Soul" has been sampled time and time again, but Emily Lordi thinks the singer doesn't get enough credit.

In her new book "The Meaning of Soul: Black Music and Resilience Since the 1960s," Lordi explains that Shaw is not as famous as she ought to be because her work is uncategorizable. Shaw draws on jazz training, but her scat isn't conventional. Shaw creates music from the perspective of a Black woman, and Lordi says it deserves more acclaim.

Credit Courtesy of Duke University Press

Lordi also discusses the work of Aretha Franklin, James Brown and Minnie Riperton, among other artists who pioneered a new path in the music world. Lordi's book covers the resilience of soul, as well as the traditions of singing in code, with lyrical messages hidden in the superficial sound of a song.

This music helped to motivate Black communities during a time of uncertainty and menace, Lordi explains. And their legacies have been reanimated in the work of contemporary artists.

Guest: Emily Lordi, associate professor of English at Vanderbilt University and author of "The Meaning of Soul: Black Music and Resilience Since the 1960s"

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 833-877-8255, email thesource@tpr.org  or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview originally aired on Monday, September 7.

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Kathleen Creedon can be reached at kathleen@tpr.org or on Twitter at @Kath_Creedon