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Hear the Soul

Experience the USA

All music has soul but with soul music, the name says it all. The roots stretch back to the 1950’s with legendary artists like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and James Brown. But soul is still going strong today. Throughout the USA, you’ll find soul-stirring music and experiences to keep your hands clapping and toes tapping.

Explore Soul

The neon sign outside the Stax Museum of American Soul in Memphis, Tennessee

Stax Museum of American Soul

Visit the place known as “Soulsville USA” to see the legacy of soul music preserved in Memphis, Tennessee. The story starts in the early 1960s when siblings Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton – hence the Stax Records name – cultivated stars, including Carla Thomas, Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes and Wilson Pickett. Stax Museum exhibits include Hayes’ gold-plated 1972 Cadillac Eldorado, a dance floor, album art, videos and a listening station. While in Memphis don't miss the Memphis Rock n’ Soul Museum, Elvis Presley’s Graceland estate and Beale Street.

Exterior view of the Motown Museum in Detroit, Michigan

Motown Museum

One of the greatest soul record companies formed in Detroit, Michigan, giving birth to the distinctive 1960s Motown Sound. Tour Berry Gordy’s former home, emblazoned with a “Hitsville, U.S.A” sign, where super groups like The Supremes, The Jackson 5 and The Temptations recorded hit after hit in Studio A. Let a knowledgeable guide take you through the museum, listen to catchy tunes and see costumes, gold records and other memorabilia. The Model T Ford also was invented in the Motor City, where visitors will find an energetic pulse in cultural venues, entertainment districts and the downtown RiverWalk.

Inside the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama

Muscle Shoals Sound Studio

Travel any time at all in northwest Alabama and you’ll quickly discover how the Muscle Shoals Sound, at its peak in the 1960s and ’70s, continues to lure musicians from around the world to record hits here. Visit both FAME Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio to learn how competing businesses hosted the biggest names in the industry: soul singers like Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Otis Redding, and later, Rod Stewart, The Rolling Stones and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Go to neighboring Tuscumbia and learn more by touring the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.

Outside the Apollo Theater in New York City
Joe Buglewicz

The Apollo Theater

It’s an honor for performers to earn their way to The Apollo Theater stage in New York City. Some of the biggest names in the business – Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis Jr., James Brown, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross and Lauryn Hill among them – got their start here. Amateur Night contests on Wednesdays, established in 1934, are especially popular. The audience isn’t shy about voicing its opinion in this “be good or be gone” venue. On other days, laugh at a comedian’s jokes, and dine on fabulous meals throughout the entertainment mecca of New York City.

Blueberry Hill in the Delmar Loop neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri

Blueberry Hill

Chuck Berry, the “Father of Rock ’n’ Roll,” performed more than 200 concerts in the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill, open since 1972 on the Delmar Loop in St. Louis, Missouri. In recent years, Ed Sheeran, Grandmaster Flash and a host of others continue to make music here. Eat the famous burgers, order drinks from the bar and soak up the nostalgia. While you’re in the neighborhood, snap a selfie next to the Chuck Berry statue, read sidewalk plaques on the St. Louis Walk of Fame and catch more music at The Pageant and Delmar Hall concert venues.

A lovely riverfront scene in Augusta, Georgia, the hometown of James Brown

The James Brown Family Historical Tour

It’s never too late to learn about the legacy left by singer and bandleader James Brown, “The Godfather of Soul.” Board a 25-passenger bus and let the James Brown Family Foundation take you on a tour of his hometown, Augusta, Georgia, including where he went to school and lived. Stop at his statue in Augusta Common, and see Brown memorabilia at the Augusta Museum of History. Linger in town a little longer to enjoy southern hospitality. Stroll the Riverwalk or get tickets to see the Masters tournament in April at the Augusta National Golf Club.

Fireworks display over Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Visit this trendy, energetic restaurant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to hear great music. Order a stiff drink at the whiskey bar – try a flight if you can’t settle on one – and eat inspired entrees like shepherd’s pie and short ribs or bar bites like deviled eggs and burgers. There’s live neo soul and jazz music every day downstairs, and DJs spin tunes Friday and Saturday in the upstairs Parisian-style club. While you’re in the “Birthplace of America,” board a sightseeing bus tour of historic sites, including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, then visit the vendors at Reading Terminal Market.

Gospel music performance at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park in Chicago, Illinois

Chicago Gospel Music Festival

Urban gospel was born in Chicago, Illinois. Feel the power behind the lyrics sung by soloists, bands and choral ensembles during this June festival in Millennium Park and the nearby Chicago Cultural Center. Over two days hear historic anthem-like songs and contemporary selections, and be mesmerized by the soulful arrangements and onstage energy. There’s no shortage of things to see and do near the concert sites. Go shopping along the Magnificent Mile, wander through world-class museums, stroll along the Lake Michigan shoreline and eat signature foods like deep-dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs.

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Soul Stories


Unassuming Creativity Thrives in Minneapolis, Minnesota

From restaurants to breweries, music venues to galleries, lakes and nature trails, Minneapolis operates with an unassuming creative energy.


Grit Meets Art in Detroit, Michigan: America’s Heartland

Groove to the beat of this incomparable city with Motown musician and Detroit’s own, Omar Aragones.


How to Best Explore Minneapolis, Minnesota

Let soul-pop musician, Lady Lark, guide you on a tour through the best stops of the Twin Cities.


Discover Detroit, Michigan with Motown Artist, Omar Aragones

Spend a day exploring the musician’s favorite places of his hometown.


Soul Cities: Music Roots and New Sounds in 5 U.S. Destinations

Robust, uplifting, joyous and comforting – the sound created when Gospel music, Jazz and R&B collided had to be called Soul.


The Magic of San Juan, Puerto Rico: Calma Carmona on Inspiration

The San Juan songstress explains why the city is so magical to her.


Where Soul Music Meets Soul Food

Soul music and soul food both bring comfort and evoke feelings of home.


Signature Soul Artists and How to Trace Their Steps in the USA

The pillars of soul music cannot be confined to any one geographical area or span of time.


5 Places to Experience the Nightlife of San Juan, Puerto Rico

In San Juan, there’s something for everyone, whether you love dancing, craft cocktails, or just a dive bar to soak up the local ambiance.


Day to Night: Exciting Ways to Explore San Juan, Puerto Rico

Visiting San Juan? Here are five experiences you won’t want to miss.


The Record Labels of Soul and Their Legacies Today

More than any other genre, the labels, studios, cities and artists involved in the creation of soul music are intrinsically intertwined.