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TheStreet Open House

How Dusty Springfield Made Adele Possible

The same year of Back To Black's release, Christina Aguilera enlisted Ronson's services for her album Back To Basics. Though Aguilera's vocal chops were never in question and her soulful edge was on full display in her contribution to the 2001 cover of LaBelle's Lady Marmalade and 2002's Beautiful, her throwback work on Ronson's Slow Down Baby and the rambunctious Ain't No Other Man evoked another era. The album ended up selling more than 5 million copies.

That's all it took to keep the register bells ringing. By the time Welsh singer Duffy released her bass-heavy anthem to sexual freedom Mercy in 2007, the public was so enamored of blue-eyed soul that the single sold 1 million copies in the U.S. alone and more than 5 million copies worldwide. Her 2008 debut album Rockferry, meanwhile, sold more than 6.5 million copies around the globe.

Ronson, meanwhile, found another kindred spirit in a 19-year-old from Tottenham who looked up to Destiny's Child and Mary J. Blige, but started singing because of the Spice Girls. Adele Adkins got some help from Ronson on her debut album 19 when he produced her song Cold Shoulder. The single was never big in the U.S., but Adele's pure delivery and the album's soul-imbued tone eventually made it a success here.

What would Springfield make of this little family tree? We're guessing not much. Springfield recorded Dusty In Memphis with Atlantic Records because it was Aretha Franklin's label. She used Cissy Houston's Sweet Inspirations as backup singers because they also backed up Aretha, Wilson Pickett and Solomon Burke. She used the Memphis Cats as her band because they were Pickett and King Curtis' band.

Much like many of the blue-eyed soul artists that followed her, Dusty Springfield didn't take a whole lot of her cues from the blue-eyed. While Springfield may rate as an influence for many of the artists mentioned above, she's not the common thread running through the whole lot. Like Duffy's love of Al Green and Burt Bacharach and Stone's affection for Springfield and Franklin, the common denominator among all of these artists is a connection with soul music that spans from Goffin and King to Gamble and Huff.

Blue eyes aren't a prerequisite to that love, even if those artists' album sales and a Billboard album chart that puts Adele and Lana Del Rey at 1 and 2, respectively, indicate otherwise.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.
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