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The Origin of Rhythm & Blues

Updated on June 24, 2008

Rhythm and blues (also known as R and B or RnB) is a popular music genre combining jazz, gospel, and blues influenced by African American artists. This popular genre of music was produced and supported mostly by black Americans in the early 1940s. Today it is one of the most popular musical styles amongst all people. Although R&B comprises an array of jump and club blues, rock and roll, doo-wop, soul, Motown, funk, disco and rap; there may also be undertones of jazz, gospel and even country style music as well.


This sophisticated music which has origins as far back as one can remember but truly began in the 1930s growing from the blues meeting urban beats. R&B generally was played in an ensemble style, typically including a lead singer, instrumentalist, rhythm section, wind instruments and some combination of piano and organ. In 1948, RCA Victor began marketing this new sound under the name Blues and Rhythm. The term Rhythm and Blues was originally coined in 1949 by Jerry Wexler of Billboard Magazine.

The approach to musical rhythm is the most important distinguishing characteristic of R&B music and its sub-genres. It was during the l950s that rhythm and blues began concentrating on targeting to a teenage audience, rather than an adult one. By the 1970s, rhythm and blues was being used as an overall blanket term to describe soul and funk. In the 2000s, the acronym R&B is almost always used instead of the term of rhythm and blues. The late 60's modern version of soul and funk-influenced pop music, sometimes referred to as bubble gum music spawned the less favorable yet popular disco music of the 70's.

New Orleans was one of the early hotbeds of rhythm and blues. Lionel Hampton was a major figure in that transition during the late Forties, recalling as well, that nurtured with his combo for two years was a future icon of rhythm & blues and, later, rock & roll, Ruth Jones, known to us as Dinah Washington.

Lionel Hampton and Dinah Shore
Lionel Hampton and Dinah Shore

One of the early hotbeds of the musical style of rhythm and blues was New Orleans. Today R&B continues with the likes of Keisha Cole, Alicia Keys, and Neo & Usher.

Alicia Keys




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      Futamarka 5 years ago

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      SLIM 6 years ago

      My name is - my name is - my name is - SSSLLLIIIMMM Shady. BoH!

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      Francis 6 years ago

      So what is origins of rhythm

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      Roxy 6 years ago

      My name is Roxy and i really do love Alicia Keys she's one of my favourite RnB stars and she's an inspiration and my fave celeb model (one of)

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      cynthia 8 years ago

      My name is Cynthia.I love Alicia Keys. Every project I do for music is on her. I love Alicia Auguello Cook.(her birthname)