While a number of US cities have long been associated with soul music – think Memphis, Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, New Orleans and Los Angeles – Miami isn’t an automatic add to that list. Not that the city hasn’t produced its fair share of hitmakers: for most soul music lovers, Miami and other cities in the ‘sunshine’ state of Florida figure in there somewhere – but likely no one major label was based there in the ‘60s and ‘70s (other than Henry Stone’s T.K. Records and its subsidiaries and imprints) in quite the same way that Memphis was home to Stax, Detroit to Motown and Chicago to Chess and Brunswick.
John Capouya’s recent tome, “Florida Soul” begins to set the record straight in regards Florida’s place as the birthplace of a number of key performers (think Ray Charles, Sam Moore among others) as well as site for some of the greatest recordings ever cut in the world of soul music. Think any number of Betty Wright recordings, classics by James & Bobby Purify (“I’m Your Puppet”), Timmy Thomas (“Why Can’t We Live Together”), Jackie Moore (“Precious, Precious”), Latimore (“Let’s Straighten It Out”) and a string of international hits by K.C. & The Sunshine Band.
There are naturally chapters devoted to Charles and Sam Moore but perhaps of more interest to keen followers of R&B and soul music, the likes of Jackie Moore, blue-eyed songstress Linda Lyndell, Willie Clarke, Helene Smith and others who never achieved consistent mainstream success have the opportunity to have their stories thoroughly documented and in particular, make fascinating reading for soul connoisseurs.
Henry Stone and the TK family of artists are given a couple of chapters that are essential to the history of soul music in the state which – via Miami’s Criteria Studios and producers like Dave Crawford and Brad Shapiro – became a hive of activity in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, hosting sessions for the likes of Aretha Franklin, Brook Benton, Esther Phillips, Dee Dee Warwick and many others. As a historical account of the importance of Florida in the history of soul music, John Capouya’s book is essential reading.