Originating in Cleveland, OH, S.O.U.L. stood for "Sounds of Unity and Love." The members were Lee Lovett(bass), Gus Hawkins (sax/flute), Paul Stubblefield (drums), and Walter Winston (guitar). Larry Hancock (vocals/organ) was added in 1971 and Bernard (Beloyd) Taylor (guitar) replaced Winston in 1972. All had been involved in music before the formation of S.O.U.L. The fellows entered a battle-of-the-bands contest in 1970, sponsored by the May Company department store in Cleveland, WHK radio station, and Musicor Records. The group won the first prize of 1,000 dollars and a recording contract with Musicor. They traveled to New York City in 1971 and recorded a 45 entitled "Down in the Ghetto Parts I & II" which exceeded the expectations of Musicor by doing so well regionally. They cut a second single, then were invited back to New York to record an album. What It Is consisted of seven tracks and illuminated the versatility of the band. They did covers of jazz and funk tunes to augment their two singles. It did quite well, cracking the Top 40 album spot on Billboard's soul album chart and nesting there for two months. The album was released in the United Kingdom and other European countries in the early '90s on the BGP label where S.O.U.L. is a cult figure.
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