The Hard Times Behind Philly Soul

Beneath the strings and sequins, the Sound of Philadelphia was the backing track to the economic crisis that hit black America in the 1970s.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff understood early on how plans and aspirations could be vulnerable to economics. Meeting by chance in an elevator — as the only black songwriters in Philadelphia’s Schubert Building — the songwriting partners spent the 1960s hustling for hits, repeatedly thwarted by bad deals and worse luck. When the pair, along with Jamaican-born […]

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