What is Northern Soul ?

For simplicity’s sake, the definition of ‘Northern Soul’ is Black American Soul music that found popularity amongst the youth of a late 1960’s North England. It originally consisted of obscure and rare American soul recordings, including lesser-known songs from Motown Records, Stax Records, Okeh Records and many smaller, lesser-known record labels.

The term “Northern Soul” is said to have originated with journalist Dave Godin in 1970, before being popularized by his Blues and Soul magazine column. Years later (2002), Godin was interviewed Chris Hunt of Mojo, when he explained he first coined the term in 1968 as a sales reference in his Covent Garden record shop to help staff differentiate the funkier more modern sounds from smoother, Motown-influenced tracks of earlier years:

“I had started to notice that northern football fans who were in London to follow their team were coming into the store to buy records, but they weren’t interested in the latest developments in the black American chart. I devised the name as a shorthand sales term. It was just to say ‘if you’ve got customers from the north, don’t waste time playing them records currently in the U.S. black chart, just play them what they like.” – ‘Northern Soul’.


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