As anachronistic as Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings are, it is well known the highest form of flattery is in imitation. Although critics may dismiss her records as behind the times, mere “clones” of a bygone era, I would argue a space remains for her to fill. There have been many ‘soulful’ artists who pop up on the radar screen who lack the booty shakin’ rhymes necessary for today’s mainstream staying power. However, these artists usually continue to enjoy left of center limelight success. Leela James cried about the state of affairs in her 2005 album, A Change is Gonna Come. She was hailed as the one to “put soul back into neo-soul.” Even as rarely as Sade records, she still causes quite a stir once a new record is released. If Whitney Houston ever cleaned up her act to be a reliable event worth scheduling again, her fans lying in wait would flock back to buy each and every concert ticket. Keys’s album would not be wildly successful if there existed no ears for her piano to enthrall. Artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Nina Simone would not have resonance influencing artists of the present, if the critics were right. Music is one of those cultural phenomenons that does not work in the linear paradigm progressing and transforming with time evolving to surpass its predecessors rendering them obsolete.
Long Live Soul.