A fusion that points to both genres' shared heritage in the American South, country soul came to prominence after Ray Charles' 1962 crossover hit Modern Sounds In Country and Western Music. The album helped popularize the Nashville sound and break down racial divides.
Who's doing it?
Solomon Burke charted with country covers like "Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Open Arms)" while First Lady of Southern Soul Candi Staton covered Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man." These days, alternative country and folk artists are interpreting R&B standards and bringing more soul into their sound, like Drive-By Truckers' Muscle Shoals-influenced Go-Go Boots.
Where should I start?
Ace Records' compilations Behind Closed Doors: Where Country Meets Soul and its sequel, Sweet Dreams. Country Got Soul (Casual Records, 2003) features contributions by Charlie Rich, Tony Joe White, Dan Penn and others. Also check out Dirty Laundry: The Soul Of Black Country and More Dirty Laundry (from German indie label Trikont) and Light In The Attic's multicultural and geographically diverse compilations Country Funk (1969-1975) and Country Funk II (1967–1974) .
Volume 3 of Ace Records' series, Cold Cold Heart: Where Country Meets Soul Vol. 3, was just released. Americana queen Lucinda Williams also recently released Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, a double album of country soul originals and Frazey Ford incorporates neo-soul in her newest, Indian Ocean.