Progressive soul (often shortened to prog-soul; also called black prog, black rock, and progressive R&B) is a type of African-American music that uses a progressive approach, particularly in the context of the soul and funk genres. It developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s through the recordings of innovative black musicians who pushed the structural and stylistic boundaries of those genres. Among their influences were musical forms that arose from rhythm and blues music's transformation into rock, such as Motown, progressive rock, psychedelic soul, and jazz fusion.
|Cultural origins||Late 1960s – early 1970s, United States|
Progressive soul music can feature an eclectic range of influences, from both African and European sources. Musical characteristics commonly found in works of the genre are traditional R&B melodies, complex vocal patterns, rhythmically-unified extended composition, ambitious rock guitar, and instrumental techniques borrowed from jazz. Prog-soul artists often write songs around album-oriented concepts and socially conscious topics based in the African-American experience, left-wing politics, and bohemianism, sometimes employing thematic devices from Afrofuturism and science fiction. Their lyrics, while challenging, can also be marked by irony and humor.
The original progressive soul movement peaked in the 1970s with the works of Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Sly and the Family Stone, Parliament-Funkadelic, and Earth, Wind & Fire, among others. Since the 1980s, both prominent American and British acts have recorded music in its tradition, including Prince, Peter Gabriel, Sade, Bilal, and Janelle Monáe. The neo soul wave of the late 1990s and early 2000s, featuring the Soulquarians collective, is considered a derivative development of the genre.