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The Unsung Heroes of Soul
Label Feature

The Unsung Heroes of Soul

Philadelphia-based label Emandolynn Music unearths hidden gems in soul, funk, R&B & jazz for over fifty years now. Session singers and musicians usually in the back on stage, now get a prominent spot in their 'Rare Soul' series, and the shine they deserve through previously unreleased records.

By DannyVeekens
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All of Emandolynn's tracks on Tracklib so far are part of their Rare Soul series: collections of music from rare vinyl that survived in the underground soul scene, particularly in Europe, for decades. Two compilations—with a third on the way—of soul artists and groups who have never completed albums, or who never got the chance to truly shine bright.

“I love that the ‘unsung’ heroes of soul music can still have their music live forever,” says writer/producer and label founder Emanuel M. Campbell. “We had to go through hundreds of old reel tapes. Most were destroyed or damaged beyond repair. For some, I only had the ‘master’ vinyl copy of limited promo runs. It’s a painful process, because a lot of demos and music did not survive up to the digital era to be transferred. But we have some jewels on the way.” The third edition of Rare Soul will feature never-before-heard material including rhythm and blues singer/pianist Bobby Peterson, family band The Nu’rons, and others.

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The concept to feature otherwise overlooked singers and musicians, is what’s at the core of Emandolynn Music. A group like The Delights is a good example: all members were previously backing singers for early sessions by The O’Jays, The Delfonics & The Stylistics: renowned groups that have been sampled numerous times for music by J Dilla, The Fugees, Schoolboy Q, Nas, 2Pac, Drake, and many others. But as The Delights, Emandolynn Music put all of the background singers straight into the limelight.

"This is black music evolving, and I am all for it."

—Emanuel M. Campbell (founder of Emandolynn Music)
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Campbell: “I licensed their track ‘Listen To Me Girl’ in Europe a few years ago for a limited 45 release, but it has never been formally released yet. Our only track that was sampled, was from a Pete Rock/Camp Lo project on a song from 2013 called ‘Megan Good’ featuring Mac Miller. Pete Rock ended the song with “We Want Freedom” by The Rotations. They had an interesting story: they were very talented, but were big party animals. They couldn’t be controlled enough to make something happen as a group. Always having conflicts with management and labels... But the music we produced for them was special. Super rare jewels.”

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And it’s the art of sampling that now allows Emandolynn Music to unearth those jewels from even deeper grounds. An art that, over time, the label had to learn to love. “Initially, being from the era of the 50s and 60s, trained in jazz, we always were into live instrumentation and musicianship. But there is an art to sampling that over time I came to appreciate. My staff also helped me to appreciate it allows the music to live and breathe for new generations. This is black music evolving, and I am all for it.”

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