‘Soul Man’ runs Saturday through May 26 at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe

It’s almost easier for Leon Pitts to demonstrate the difference between rhythm and blues singing and soul than to put it into words.

He starts with a bit of James Brown’s “I Feel Good” in a kind of smooth, low-key, R&B style before digging a little deeper and letting out what he calls a “scrowl,” a combination of screaming and growling.

“It’s like ‘Try a Little Tenderness,’” he says. “It starts out very smooth, but Otis Redding can’t contain it anymore and he goes into this growl. He just has to let it out.”

Pitts is one of a half dozen singers who will be letting it out in the premiere of “Soul Man,” the final show of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s season and the latest in a series of original revues created and directed by its founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs.

“It’s an homage to a particular genre of artist, specifically focusing on these guys who had a unique fire and energy and excitement about them in the early 1960s,” said Jacobs, citing such artists as Redding, Brown, Jackie Wilson, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, The Temptations, Solomon Burke and Ray Charles.

“They were out there in the time of Motown. Motown was the opposite of what these guys were doing. Motown was the crossover vision that Berry Gordy had to appeal to white audiences,” Jacobs said. “This show has another flair and excitement to it.”

Without getting too serious, he said “Soul Man” also touches on what was happening in society to trigger the depth of the sounds listeners heard.

“We’re dealing with some of the issues that men of color dealt with in the era of the ’60s, the Civil Rights movement, the philosophy, the mentality of where black men were in America, the servitude jobs, a ceiling with only a few opportunities for people of color,” Jacobs said.

Pitts said “it was a time of raw passion on stage. Motown had their moves and everything was calculated, but James Brown and Jackie Wilson, their moves were spontaneous. That’s what caught the people. They felt their raw passion.”

Pitts, who has been performing with WBTT almost from its start, has become a favorite for his soulful performances in such recent shows as “Soul Crooners,” “The Wiz” “A Motown Christmas.” He shares the stage with Sheldon Rhoden, Michael Mendez, Raleigh Mosely, Derric Gobourne Jr., Henry Washington and Ariel Blue.

Blue, a longtime troupe member and the lone female in the cast, plays a radio disc jockey named Diamond Divine, whose job is to take a contemporary hip-hop artist named Breezy (played by Gobourne) back to the 1960s “to teach him the roots of what he’s trying to do with hip-hop,” she said. “He thinks he created everything. She tells him, ‘You know what, you need to find out what your cultural strains are from.”

It has been a learning experience for Blue, too, who says she “knew a lot of the music, but you learn more in teaching somebody, so I got to relearn the music in a different way.”

She said the soul music of the ’60s has a strong connection to modern hip-hop and rap, which has become more melodic than it was 15 or 20 years ago. “Now it’s a lot more singing with rappers, not just R&B hooks. It has more flow.”

Jacobs describes the musical style as an “uninhibited energy on the stage or in the recording studio. That’s what we celebrate in this show.”

The production features choreography by Donald Frison and a live band led by music director James E. Dodge II. Costumes are by Adrienne Pitts and lighting is by Michael Pasquini.

Jacobs said that most of the music will be familiar to audiences. “There are some things that people may not know but I think a lot of our audiences will recognize most of this music. Most of it is some of the hottest stuff from the ’60s, but we always want to introduce something interesting and different.”

He describes the period as an “exciting time for music. At one moment in the show, we talk about how they gave us the musical platform to dance some of our troubles away. The music snatched you away from the problems that most people, and especially black people, woke up to every morning.”