Florida Soul:
From Ray Charles to KC and the Sunshine Band

John Capouya

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"Compelling. . . .Given how much great regional American soul music remains to be rediscovered, analyzed and archived, Mr. Capouya is to be commended. The casual fan will enjoy dipping in and out of these stand-alone stories; the hard-core fanatic will relish wading deep into the musical waters."—Wall Street Journal
 
“The story of a state long denied its place in soul capitals. Capouya tells quite a tale, taking us from the legends RC to KC; from Jackie Moore to Sam Moore; to many more.”—Jeffrey M. Lemlich, author of Savage Lost: Florida Garage Bands, the ’60s and Beyond
 
“Engaging and comprehensive. Spotlighting the rich and underappreciated histories of R&B, soul, funk, and disco in Florida, Capouya contributes greatly to our understanding of the music and its contexts.”—Charles L. Hughes, author of Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South
 
“Capouya reaches back over eighty years to tell the often overlooked history of Florida’s vibrant soul music scene, painting the music and its makers with sympathetic insight and an eye for detail.”—Michael Lydon, author of Ray Charles: Man and Music
 
“Shows us the great artists who changed the nation’s music and culture. A superb read.”—William McKeen, author of Everybody Had an Ocean: Music and Mayhem in 1960s Los Angeles
 
“Capouya smoothly weaves together the diverse sounds of one of the key regions in American music history. He discusses Florida history, soul knowledge, and the arc of uneven racial progress and does it as gracefully as a Timmy Thomas wail.”—RJ Smith, author of The One: The Life and Music of James Brown
 
When recalling the roots of soul music, most people are likely to name Memphis, Detroit, New Orleans, Muscle Shoals, or Macon. But Florida also has a rich soul music history—an important cultural legacy that has often gone unrecognized. Florida Soul celebrates great artists of the Sunshine State who produced some of the most electric, emotive soul music America has ever heard.
 
This book tells the story of Ray Charles’s musical upbringing in Florida, where he wrote his first songs and made his first recordings. It highlights the careers of Pensacola singers James and Bobby Purify and their producer, Papa Don Schroeder. Florida Soul reveals how Hank Ballard created his international hit song “The Twist” after seeing the dance in Tampa and profiles Gainesville singer Linda Lyndell (“What a Man”). Miami’s Overtown and Liberty City neighborhoods produced Sam Moore of the legendary duo Sam and Dave, Willie Clarke and Johnny Pearsall of Deep City Records, and singer Helene Smith. Miami was also the longtime headquarters of Henry Stone, whose influential company T.K. Productions put out hits by Timmy Thomas, Latimore, Betty Wright, and KC and the Sunshine Band. Stone’s artists and distribution deals influenced charts and radio airplay across the world.
 
Born in the era of segregation with origins in gospel, rhythm and blues, and jazz and reaching maturity during the civil rights movement, soul music is still enjoyed today, still very much a part of our collective culture. John Capouya draws on extensive interviews with surviving musicians to re-create the excitement and honor the achievements of soul’s golden age, establishing Florida as one of the great soul music capitals of the United States.
 
John Capouya is associate professor of journalism and writing at the University of Tampa. His previous book, the biography Gorgeous George: The Outrageous Bad-Boy Wrestler Who Created American Pop Culture, is being adapted into a feature film.
 

Adds a significant entry to the scholarship on soul music. . . . Throughout these profiles, a portrait of how racial segregation and post-Civil Rights Act integration in Florida affected both black and white musicians emerges. . . . Essential. -- Library Journal

Entertaining and colorful . . . Assures that the Sunshine State gets its due alongside the musical hubs of Detroit, Memphis, and New Orleans. -- Publishers Weekly

As Mr. Capouya brings the epoch, the genre and its creative music-makers to life, he shapes eloquent personality portraits that bring us inside the lives and minds of dozens of individuals we would not otherwise get to know. -- Florida Weekly

[Capouya] looks at the music not only as entertainment but as an expression of the culture and history that surrounded it. -- Tampa Bay Times

[Capouya’s] respect for the music, sound, and culture of Florida . . . will resonate for eons to come. -- HenryStoneMusic Blog

It’s a fluent, well-written book filled with facts and a valuable source of information for classic soul music fans. -- Soul Express

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