Soul Music in Florida — Scenes, Stories and Sounds

Author John Capouya, left, and cover of the author’s book/Photo by (c) Suzanne Williamson. Floridians produced some of the most popular soul hits of all time from the late 1940s through the 1970s.

By Greg C. Truax Publisher

John Capouya and Suzanne Williamson will share the stories, pictures and music that illuminate Mr. Capouya’s new book, Florida Soul: From Ray Charles to KC and the Sunshine Band, a history of soul music in the state, on Friday (Feb. 16) at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts.

“John and Suzanne traveled the state from Miami to Pensacola for more than six years to interview and photograph musicians and producers. Adding to the wealth of historical images in the book, Suzanne created 10 photographic portraits of ‘soul survivors’ in their current lives,”  according to FMoPA Executive Director Zora Carrier, Ph.D.

In addition to sharing Florida Soul history, music and vintage images from the book, the author and photographer will speak about their collaborative process of joining words and pictures to tell the rich, human stories in the book.

The 5 to 7 p.m.  Friday event at FMoPA,  400 N. Ashely Drive in downtown Tampa, is a Cultural Encounter by Tampa Bay Business for Culture & the Arts.  FMoPA is TBBCA’s  cultural partner for the event that’s free for museum members and a suggest donation of only $10 for nonmembers.  The speakers will present at 6 p.m.

Author statement by  Mr. Capouya:
“Soul is an American— fundamentally an African-American—form of expression, but the emotions it conveys are universal. Think about how many soul songs we still listen to today, 50 years after they were first recorded.

“Soon after I moved to Florida to teach at the University of Tampa, I discovered that so many of the soul artists I grew up listening to in New York and New Jersey—Sam & Dave, Timmy Thomas, Betty Wright, Latimore—had roots in this state. Then I heard that ‘The Twist,’ probably the biggest song and dance craze of my lifetime, originated in Tampa. That’s when I knew I had something to add to the history and understanding of this music.”

Mr. Capouya teaches journalism and nonfiction writing as an associate professor at the University of Tampa, and works with private writing clients. During his journalism career he was an editor at Newsweek and SmartMoney magazines, as well as New York Newsday and The New York Times. He is the author of three nonfiction books; the most recent, Florida Soul (UPF, 2017), traces the evolution of R&B and funk in Florida from Ray Charles to KC and the Sunshine Band. The Wall Street Journal called the book “compelling,” adding that “Mr. Capouya is to be commended.’’

Photographic artist Suzanne Williamson works in the American landscape and produces pictures for editorial/documentary projects. She made the photo portraits of musicians published in the book, Florida Soul. Her art installation, Shadow and Reflection: Visions of Florida’s Sacred Landscapes with writer John Capouya, was exhibited at the Morean Arts Center and will travel to the Appleton Museum of Art in 2018. In her arts career, she has been the Photo Editor of ARTnews magazine, curator for a private photography collection and director of a nonprofit, Positive Change Can Happen. She currently works at SKW Arts PR/Marketing.


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Greg C. Truax - Publisher

David R. Wheeler - Contributing Editor

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