R&B music was originally termed "race music" and basically included any form of music intended for black audiences.
Today’s contemporary R&B music has a distinctly different sound than its forebears, focusing on pop music beats and culture rather than the blues, gospel and jazz sounds of previous generations. In the late 1940’s and into the fifties, R&B music groups consisted of brass instruments and woodwinds, as well as drums, piano and vocals. These elements were common in jazz bands, but R&B musicians produced a heavier sound with a steady beat. As the fifties progressed, the genre became notable for its sexually suggestive lyrics and provocative dancing associated with it.
As the genre progressed throughout the decades, R&B music started becoming known as soul music. It was also no longer exclusively made by black artists. White musicians started composing R&B songs, though the genre was still dominated by black artists like Chubby Checker, Sam Cooke, and bands like The Miracles. R&B lyrics still focused on segregation and racial issues like past musical genres associated with black musicians, but arrangement and musical style was becoming more important than lyrical content.
Electric guitars began to play a part in the instrumentation as a result of Waters’ proficiency, and the genre began to evolve again. As the genre progressed and caught on in society, it helped dispel the commonly held belief that so-called "black" music was for black people only. The genre transcended race relations and survived through extremely tenuous race relations in the United States, and as a result, R&B music carved its own niche in the US music scene.