New Orleans Contributions to R&B Music

Rhythm and blues has evolved so much as a genre over the years. One thing that will never change is the history of sound. We’re taking a look back at the music history of the great city of New Orleans and their contributions to R&B music. New Orleans is the birth place of many great musicians and original sounds.

A new style came out of New Orleans after World War II. Prominent musicians such as Fats Domino helped shape what was first widely known as “rhythm and blues”, which was an important ancestor of rock and roll, if not the first form of the music.

The city developed it’s own style called New Orleans R&B. It was most popular between the years of 1948-1955, serving as a precursor to Rock & Roll and strongly influencing Ska. Instrumentation typically included drums, bass, piano, horns, electric guitar, and vocals. It is characterized by syncopated “second line” rhythms, a strong backbeat, and soulful vocals. Artists like Roy Brown, Dave Bartholomew, and Fats Domino are representative of the New Orleans R&B sound.

“Blue Monday” was a #1 R&B Hit in recorded in 1957 by Fats Domino. It was performed by in the popular Jayne Mansfield flick The Girl Can’t Help It:

Check out some current R&B artists who represent New Orleans:

August Alsina

In 2013 August talked to Complex about Growing Up in New Orleans. He stated, “Growing up in New Orleans, we the murder capital. You just got to kind of find your way. I remember just a lot of people dying. Whether from the gun or whatever the fuck. Like one of my homies, I remember he died from crashing a go kart into a light pole. I remember being young as hell, like, ‘Damn, he ain’t even here no more. That’s crazy.’ So I have to take that in every morning.

Dawn Richard (D∆WN)

Complex also covered Dawn’s roots and where she get her inspiration.”The exact genre of D∆WN’s music is unclassified, with online music services first listing her as R&B, and more recently slotting her work into the electronic charts. However, as a native of New Orleans, defying categorization is something she was born to do. “Any given day [when] you walk on the street you see someone tap dancing, singing, wearing a headdress…there could possibly be a parade happening in your front yard.” The Big Easy’s influence is perhaps most apparent in D∆WN’s stylistic choices: sculptural headwear, sheer fabrics, and jeweled heels. “If you know New Orleans, if you know that culture, [then] you understand me perfectly…New Orleans is all extra and it’s basic to us.”

Rico Love

Songwriter and producer Rico Love was born in New Orleans, Louisiana .From 2005 through 2012, Rico was behind seven songs that peaked within the Top Ten of Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, including Usher’s “There Goes My Baby,” Mary J. Blige’s “Mr. Wrong,” Trey Songz’ “Heart Attack,” Kelly Rowland’s “Motivation,” and Melanie Fiona’s “4AM.” Discrete Luxury, his first solo EP, was released in February 2014 through Interscope — “They Don’t Know” reached the Top 15 of Billboard’s R&B chart. The album Turn the Lights On followed in May 2015.


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