Seriously Anguished Soul Singers

The Believer

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I was in my mid-20s, down on my luck in San Francisco, and listening to a lot of sad soul music. And the more I listened to, the better I felt. But it was mostly because I was nowhere as sad as these singers sounded. I started to read about the life of Little Johnny Taylor and a handful of others whose real lives mirrored the heartbreak contained in their lyrics — so much so that most flammed out or were simply lost to history. It was a quirky batch of stories, and I had a relationship with the folks at The Believer, who I knew might agree. As for the singers, streaming has mostly rescued them from obscurity. 

Commissioning Editor: Andrew Leland
Editor: Andi Mudd
Designer: Jessica Wen-Di Tan