There’s no sound like the sweet sound of soul. Long gone are the days of Motown that had folks dancing in the streets. Many artists have been influenced by funky Motown beats, but it’s difficult to find music that embodies the elements of soul, funk, blues and jazz that made the music what it was. For all the fans of the old school sound here’s a little list (in no particular order) of 10 artists from this decade that are dedicated to bringing back the Motown sound.
1. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
Working hard to revitalize the sound, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings use traditional recording equipment to help create the funky music that they play so well. Led by Jones’ powerful voice and carried by the Dap-Kings big brass, this group will transport you back to the’60s and ‘70s.
2. Mayer Hawthorne
Hailing from the streets of Ann Arbor, Mich., Mayer Hawthorne grew up in Motown’s backyard. Producing a sound that’s unmistakably soul, Hawthorne creates crooning harmonies that will leave listeners swooning. Singing and playing the instruments on the tracks, Hawthorne is a multi-talented wonder.
3. Janelle Monae
Janelle Monae has received wide recognition for her soulful debut The ArchAndroid and will be performing at this year’s Grammys. Monae’s sound has stronger elements of jazz and R&B, but her rich vocals are unmistakably funky fresh.
4. Jamie Lidell
British artist Jamie Lidell produces smooth and sophisticated music that’s unassuming but sure to have anyone tapping their toes in a matter of minutes.
5. Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears
The type of music that will make you want to strap on your roller-skates and hit the rink, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears are nothing but feel-good sound. Characterized by a driving, funky beat, this energetic band has no problem saying how they really feel, even if it might offend.
6. James Morrison
Though not an artist that is dedicated solely to revitalizing the Motown sound, James Morrison has enough bluesy jazz on his 2008 sophomore album, Songs For You, Truths For Me to get on the list. This U.K. artist proves that Motown is not a location, it is a feeling.
7. Robert Randolph and the Family Band
They’ve got the funk and are dealing it out in spades. With fast-paced rhythms and strong bass beats led by Robert’s steel pedal guitar, the Randolph’s prove that the family that jams together, stays together. Named by Rolling Stone as one of their 100 greatest guitarists of all time, Robert Randolph is one bad mother—shut yo’ mouth!
Easy Lee (Charles Peters) and Tre (Treson Scipio) describe themselves as “The Roots meet OutKast over dinner with Marvin Gaye at D’Angelo’s house.” The duo puts a new twist on the classic sound by bringing a more hardcore hip-hop flavor into the mix. With flowing rhymes and jazzy hooks, MoJoe bring a more modern interpretation of Motown sound.
9. Charles Bradley
Rich and soulful, this brand-new 62-year-old artist has all of the qualities of a legendary great. With a voice that will echo down in your bones, Charles Bradley brings back the art of storytelling.
10. Menahan Street Band
Like many of the artists on this list, the Menahan Street Band are on Daptone Records. Comprised of members from the Dap-Kings, The Budos Band, Antibalas and El Michels Affair, the Menahan Street Band has talent to spare. With blaring brass and sturdy percussion this band creates grooves to move to.