Gamble and Huff: The Sound of Philadelphia

It is said that about every 13 minutes, a Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff song is played somewhere in the world. Their music can be heard from the streets of Philadelphia to the United Kingdom, France and even Japan. Teddy Pendergrass’ “Love TKO” has been used in a television commercial in the U.K. for several years and Billy Paul’s “Best of” album was hot on the music charts in France. In 1974, the trio placed more than 25 songs on pop and R&B charts making it the biggest selling music publishing company of the year and the second-largest African American-owned music company in America, just behind Motown. Gamble and Huff created one of the most important post-1960s musical empires and sounds in the United States. This empire and sound was known as The Sound of Philadelphia (TSOP). In 1974, TSOP placed more than 25 songs on pop and R&B charts making it the biggest selling music publishing company of the year and the second-largest African American-owned music company in America, just behind Motown. The Sound of Philadelphia (or Philly) is a style of soul music characterized by funk influences and lush instrumental arrangements, often featuring sweeping strings and piercing horns. The genre laid the groundwork for Disco and what are now considered Quiet Storm and smooth jazz by fusing the R & B rhythm sections of the 1960s with the Pop Vocal tradition, and featuring a slightly more pronounced Jazz influence in its melodic structures and arrangements. There would be no 1970s soul, no R&B, no disco, without Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. Their raw, gospel-driven sound combined with sophisticated, precise musical arrangements and socially conscious lyrics paid off with 175 gold or platinum albums and 18 number one pop singles.

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