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Intro

When Dusty Springfield recorded “Son of a Preacher Man” in 1968, she took a bold step away from her British pop roots. The R&B recording earned her the title “White Queen of Soul” and won her lasting recognition in the music industry.

But this was far from the only bold step Springfield took over the course of her career. In fact, it was only one of several in which she put her own popularity at risk in order to stretch her audience musically and politically.

Dusty Springfield was a major force within the music industry for only half a decade. And although she was a 1960s superstar, she was never considered an activist or protest singer. It’s quite possible that she did more to advance certain political principles than many of the performers who adopted activism as a part of their artistic personas, though.

About the Song

ArtistDusty Springfield Musician(s)Dusty Springfield (vocals), Reggie Young (guitar), Tommy Cogbill (bass guitar), Gene Chrisman (drums), Sweet Inspirations (back-up vocals)
AlbumDusty in Memphis
Year1968
LabelAtlantic
Writer(s)John Hurley, Ronnie Wilkins
Producer(s)Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin, Jeff Barry, Tom Dowd
Learn to play: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/d/dusty_springfield/son_of_a_preacher_man_crd.htm
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Shmoop Connections

Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
Dusty in Memphis and its most popular track, “Son of a Preacher Man,” earned Dusty Springfield the title “White Queen of Soul.” The title was fitting, as the song was first offered to the actual “Queen of Soul." (Franklin later regretted the decision and recorded a version of her own, but by then Springfield’s rendition was already a major hit.) Springfield’s transition from pop rock to soul represents an interesting chapter in the history of the genres that came together in this recording— rock and roll and the blues.

But the story behind this song has as much to do with history and politics as it does music. The path Springfield took to Memphis passed through the civil rights movement and apartheid-torn South Africa.

On the Charts

“Son of a Preacher Man” reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and #9 on the UK charts) in 1968. It’s popularity remains strong to this day, and Rolling Stone named it #240 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
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