Quiet Storm

From Academic Kids

Quiet storm is a late-night radio format, featuring soulful slow jams, pioneered in the mid 1970s by then station intern Melvin Lindsey at Howard University Radio, WHUR-FM, in Washington, D.C. Smokey Robinson's like-titled hit single, released in 1975 as the title track to his third solo album, lent its name to the format and to the radio program that introduced it to the public, as well.

When Lindsey's "The Quiet Storm" debuted in 1976, the first tune on the turntable was the seven-minute-long Robinson hit, which introduced the slot every night thereafter. For many, when Robinson's trademark tenor voice wafted out over the airwaves, it signalled the end of the stresses of the workday. "The Quiet Storm" was four hours of melodically soulful music that provided an intimate, laid-back mood tailor-made for late-night listening, and that was the key to its tremendous appeal among adult audiences.

The format was an immediate success, becoming so popular that within a few years, virtually every station in the U.S. with a core black, urban listenership adopted a similar format for its graveyard slot.

Melvin Lindsey died of AIDS in 1992, but the "Quiet Storm" format he originated remains a staple in radio programming today, almost 30 years after its inception.

Today, quiet storm is also a broad term given to an array of mellow, slow-groove rhythm and blues/soul music and smooth jazz offerings of the type featured on Melvin Lindsey's WHUR program, and on a myriad of other stations that followed his lead.

Initially targeted primarily at a black audience, quiet storm music is distinguished by understated, mellow dynamics and relaxed tempos and rhythms. It can be soothingly pensive, or express romantic sentiment. Quiet storm music is similar to soft rock and adult contemporary styles, but it is more closely and unmistakably rooted in R&B, often with jazz extensions. At its best, the style features an urbane sophistication and subdued soulfulness.

Quiet storm programming is credited with launching the careers of Luther Vandross and Anita Baker, and with introducing Sade to U.S. audiences. Classic quiet storm recordings include Frankie Beverly and Maze's "Golden Time of Day," Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On," the orchestrations of Philadelphia soul, the recordings of Al Green and Bill Withers, much of jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery's work during his CTI (Creed Taylor, Incorporated) years, and the work of jazz-funk saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. Quiet storm was most popular as a programming niche with baby boomers from the mid-'70s to the early '90s, after which time much of mainstream R&B took on a harder, hip-hop influenced approach.

WHUR radio still has a "Quiet Storm" show; and many urban, black radio stations still reserve their late-night programming slots for quiet storm music, as well. Much of the music now featured, however, has a hip-hop infusion and is known as neo soul. Neo soul artists today include Brian McKnight, Joe, Jaheim, D'Angelo, Maxwell, Mary J. Blige, India Arie, Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and Alicia Keys. Quiet storm music is also the more mellow, soulful side of smooth and contemporary jazz.


Soul music - Soul genres
Funk
Blue-eyed soul - Brown-eyed soul - Girl group - Motown Sound (Detroit soul) - Northern soul - Quiet storm - Psychedelic soul
New Jack Swing - Hip-hop soul - Neo soul (Nu soul)
Memphis soul - Philly soul
Other topics
Musicians

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