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50 years later, old soul finds new fans

Sarah Deragon/Miki Vargas

The film 20 Feet from Stardom, which just won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature this past weekend, shines a spotlight on the female singers who sang backup to the biggest soul and rock legends during the 1960s.

No matter how talented they were, many singers who recorded in the 60s did not rise to stardom, leaving a surplus of soul singles behind. At the same time these over-looked records were collecting dust, English DJs were coming to America, searching for new music to bring to dance floors back home. The songs they found inspired what some consider the very first rave culture — a dance movement called “Northern Soul.”

Crosscurrents’ own Ashleyanne Krigbaum is a record collector and DJ who has been spinning soul records in Bay Area clubs for the past five years. She recently partnered with NPR Music to launch an online archive of Northern Soul tracks -- making mostly unknown soul songs accessible anytime to a worldwide audience, no turntables needed. 

Click the player above to listen to the full interview.

ASHLEYANNE KRIGBAUM: "So many of these soul songs are dealing with profound musings on heartbreak that are one part really raw, but at the same time almost celebratory of the fact that you're having these deep, sad realizations. That they're sad songs you can dance too."

Click here to find a local dance floor playing soul music near you.
You can listen to NPR's Northern Soul Radio for the next month at NPR.org/music.

Hana Baba is host of Crosscurrents, KALW's weeknight newsmagazine that broadcasts on KALW Public Radio in the San Francisco Bay Area.