Phyl Garland is an associate editor and the regular music critic for Ebony and this is her ""informal account designed for the reader who likes the sound of soul and possesses an interest in the meaning of this music, in the world from which it has sprung and in the gifted people who create and perform it."" Thus a black-oriented, knowledgeable history from the grass roots to the ""slick soul"" Motown sound. With interesting questions about its appeal or impetus as ""strange inner odyssey of the American mainstream in its quest for soul."" And polite reasoning about ridiculous racial barriers . . . why shouldn't Janis Joplin be accepted by the black community . . . Leontyne Price is doing all right. She shows the interrelatedness and interaction between R & B, Blues, Jazz and Gospel. And there are three excellent interviews with B. B. King, Nina Simone and Aretha. It's a well-directed orientation. A little soul clap for the Sister.