One Man Choir

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In the wake of D’Angelo’s Black Messiah, Dan Piepenbring waxes poetic on R&B groups, the state of the genre, and how, when it comes down to it, the swinging feel of a swinging chorus is all but irreplaceable:

Not that you have to be a music scholar to enjoy the sound of people singing together. At the risk of getting all Kumbaya about it, isn’t it just sort of nice to hear voices working in harmony? To me, the sound of a group has always been more approachable than that of a soloist—a collective is bound to be more welcoming than an individual, especially if they’re a collective of really pretty voices. I think pop music at the moment is as inventive as it’s ever been, but still: Where have our great R&B groups gone, and why have they ceased to capture the public imagination?


Bryan Washington has written for Puerto Del Sol, Ninth Letter, and Midnight Breakfast, among others; he's also the recipient of a Houstonia Fellowship. He lives around New Orleans. More from this author →