The blues music has gone through a massive evolution since it first started out as a musical tradition for the African Americans and their slave culture. Since then we have seen many important improvements and milestones for when it comes to human rights and black music. The end of slave import and the end of segregation lead to black music in the radio among others. It became possible to record and possess music by African Americans with help from record labels like Joke Records and Paramount Records, great artists like Son House, Robert Johnson and Muddy
Waters had massive success, and in the late sass we even had a black man owning a radio station. After that the blues had a bit of a quiet period before we in the sass witnessed the blues revival. Blues influenced bands such as The Rolling Stones, The White Stripes and The Black Keys got formed and that together with the organization The Blues Foundation and older and newer blues record labels are helping to keep the unique musical tradition alive. Introduction The aim of this report is to give a general overview of the history of blues music and to identify its influential factors and current situation.
Furthermore the report will content background knowledge about some of the most significant artists from the genre and a description of the music business’ impact on the genre’s popularity. This has been done through online research, watching documentaries and reading relevant books and Journals. History The beginning of the blues genre goes back to 1619 when the first slaves were brought from Africa to America. The Africans brought their music with them, which, when arriving to the plantations in the South of America, generated different opinions.
Some owners encouraged their slaves to sing and dance, thinking that it loud keep them happy and less likely to protest and try to escape. Other owners were more paranoid and believed that the songs with their African dialect and doubled meanings could spread information outside of the owners’ control. Enjoying the black music or not, it flourished everywhere it could and by the mid-nineteenth century the African Americans had developed a slave culture with a unique musical tradition. The slave trade continued until Congress legislated its end the 1st of January 1808, but the racism continued. One of the outcomes of the slave culture was
The Minstrel Show starting in 1820, which consisted of white entertainers performing songs and dances in blackjack. Very racist but at the same time a big impact on increasing the popularity of black music. In 1867 a collection of African American music sheets was published. It was the first published collection of any kind of Blues music By Kate-skate taken. In February 1920, Perry Bradford, an African-American composer, convinced Joke Records to record the black singer Miami Smith. Smith’s record ‘Crazy Blues’ became a big hit for Joke Records and was the beginning of the so-called “race records”.
The “race record” phenomenon created an ambivalent encounter between the white America and the black culture. The music itself was a huge success but a big part of the white Americans were still not ready for black music being more than a taboo. Since 1910, hundreds of thousands black people had been migrating to the North to escape from poverty, violence, and segregation. As the blacks settled in, the blues settled in with them and a new musical culture arose, Delta Blues. Their songs referred to sexuality and the traveling lifestyle, which continued with artists moving further up to Detroit and Chicago.
Here they created a pop influenced city blues style, which was displaced by the new Chicago/Electric blues sound in the sass with electric guitars, piano and sometimes saxophone and trumpet added. At the same time people were recovering from the Great Depression that since 1929 had lead people through an economic downturn and thereby influenced the music industry with a massive decrease of record sales. The Great Depression nearly killed the “race” market and almost dried up folk and blues music entirely. Fortunately it gave the black people even more resolve and inspiration, which lead to a new level of maturity n their sound and lyrics.
In 1948, president Harry S. Truman signed the Executive Order 9981 and thereby putting and end to segregation, which among others led to black music in the radio. Black entrepreneurs had tried since 1930 to buy a radio station. In 1948 an all black format program was on air in Memphis and finally in 1949 the African American Jesse B. Clayton purchased the radio station WERE established in Atlanta. Moving more than ten years ahead to 1962, the blues had had a bit of a dry period, but now saw blues influenced bands like the Rolling Stones eyeing formed. Not long after that, the blues revival arose.
Throughout the sass, acoustic blues enjoyed a revival through its growing appreciation, and by the late sass, blues and blues-based rock was experiencing an even greater popularity. Artists like B. B. King, Jim Hendrix and Eric Clayton were at the height of their success, and many British blues-based rock bands like Led Zeppelin began to be formed, but blues was still no longer a dominant force on the commercial market. Even though blues still had a major impact on new artists, like the Black Keys and the White Stripes, with music inspired by or combined with blues, an organization called The Blues Foundation was founded in 1980.
The organization aims to celebrate recordings and performances, support blues education and ensure the future of this unique African American music style. The organization also hosts an annual award show for blues music and has built a Blues Hall of Fame, where many of the following artists are listed. Furthermore, we still see blues record labels such as Northern Blues Records and festivals like Blues Fest London promoting the music, and films such as Martin Scorcher’s “The Blues” from 2003 celebrating the history of blues. (Davis, 2003.
McPherson, 2000) Key Artists & Musical Works son House (1902 – 1988) Son House was born in Mississippi and is known for being one of the most powerful artists of Delta blues with a dominant voice and lyrics. The young Son House was blues music, House was very attracted to it and taught himself guitar in his early ass. Around 1927 House shot a man dead in self-defense and served two years in prison. When he came out he met Charlie Patton and Willie Brown, and the three of them started playing local gigs together. In 1930, House made his first recording for Paramount Records.
He recorded nine songs of witch none of them became a commercially success due to the Great Depression. House continued playing with Patton and Brown until Brown’s dead, where House decided to give up the guitar, leave the blues behind and move to New York to work. In 1964, during the blues revival, researchers rediscovered Son House and he started recording again. He was the main source of inspiration to both Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson and was hailed as being the greatest living Delta blues singer still actively performing. Kodak, 012) Robert Johnson (1911 – 1938) Robert Johnson was born in Mississippi and is said to be the most celebrated figure in the history of blues. As a kid he made every attempt to sit in with the local blueness such as Son House, Charley Patton and Willie Brown observing their guitar playing. He moved to Memphis got married in a very young age. His wife died in childbirth shortly after and her family accused him for selling his soul to the devil by playing secular songs. When he came back to Mississippi he seemed to have acquired a miraculous guitar technique, which impressed the old blueness.
He would do things with the guitar that nobody had ever seen or heard and affected the way everybody played. From 1932 Johnson traveled frequently between large cities and in 1936 he was introduced to Ernie Rootlet who offered to record his music in Texas. After his first recording Johnson hit the road again, playing anywhere and everywhere he could. Johnson was beside his music and commitment to the road known for his weakness for whiskey and women. One night in a Juke Joint in Mississippi, the husband of a woman Johnson had been taking advantage of poisoned Johnson.
Johnson died in 1938 and became the originator of the “27 Club”. He is possibly the most influential Blues artist and has influenced artists like the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Eric Clayton. (Kodak, 2012) Muddy waters (1913 – 1983) Muddy Waters was born in Mississippi and started out with playing harmonica and later the guitar copying the two popular blues artists Son House and Robert Johnson. In 1941, Alan Llama discovered Waters and they recorded the song “l Bee’s Troubled”. After that, Waters moved to Chicago where he met Big Billy Bronzy who helped him reek into the competitive market by letting him open for his shows.
Two years later he got his first electric guitar, which enabled him to play louder and be heard. In 1946 Waters started recording again and in 1948 his two songs “l Can’t Be Satisfied” and “l Feel Like Going Home” became major hits. Ten years later Waters headed to England where he attracted immediate attention with his extremely loud guitar and sound, which is what he is especially remembered for. (Dahl, 2012) Eric Clayton was born in Surrey in England and was one of the pioneers of the blues revival. He taught himself guitar in an early age inspired by Robert Johnson, B.
B. King and Muddy Waters, and began his blues career in the blues-influenced rock and roll band The Yardarms. He played with them for two years and became one of the most mentioned guitarists in England. After leaving the band due to their changes away from the blues, Clayton Joined John Mammal & the Blueberries and gained reputation as the best blues guitarist. Clayton left the Blueberries in the summer of 1966 and formed the band Cream, where he also began to develop as a singer and songwriter. Within 28 months, Cream had become a commercial success with U. S. Its like “Sunshine of Your Love”, “White Room” and Robert Johnson “Crossroads” selling millions of records. Unfortunately drugs and alcohol use created conflicts between the band members. Clayton played in a few different bands after that before stating solo, and would, after rehab from a massive drug and alcohol abuse, start performing with different artists such as Roger Waters, George Harrison and Phil Collins. (Aurelian, 2012) Jack White (1975 – ) Jack White is born in Detroit and is known for helping restore the popularity of punk- lees as the frontal of the White Stripes.
He started playing the drums in the age of six and listened to blues artists like Son House. In 1997 he formed the White Stripes. The band released six albums of witch the most commercially successful song was “Seven Nation Army’ from 2003. White had along with his punk-blues other projects such as The Raconteurs with whom he played rock and a super group called The Death Weather with whom he played alternative rock. “Anything I do is 1,000 percent the blues. That word is synonymous with the truth to me,” says White, who’s ajar influences are Son House, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. Hyatt, 2011) Business Influence The record labels and other players in the music industry have helped bringing blues music to the publics attention and helped turning it into a commercial success. As mentioned in the history section, the blues music originated back when laws separated blacks and whites. But political factors along with some people’s passion for music and its artists instead of the color of their skin, made it possible for everybody to purchase and listen to the devil’s music.
In the sass the blues label Paramount Records, who later recorded with Charlie Patton, was started, followed in 1918 by Joke Records, who recorded the black singer Miami Smith. This was the first recording with a black singer and started the “race records” phenomena. In 1921, Black Swan Records was started in New York and was the first widely distributed label to be owned and operated by African Americans. The market was still dominated by Joke and Paramount though, who together accounted for more than 2/3 of the total blues and gospel releases in the year of 1923.
In the time after that ore and more blues labels such as Bluebird Records and the British Decca Records were founded, followed by the extremely popular label Chess Records in 1947. Chess Records is known for being the most influential All-American Blues label to have ever have recorded artists like Muddy Waters, Teat James, Howling’ Wolf and Willie Dixon, and later on Chuck berry, Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys and Led Zeppelin. Another big blues label, which was founded in 1952, was Sun Records. Sun Records was started by Sam Phillips who among others found and recorded young blues artists such as B. B.
King and also Howling’ Wolf before selling the contract to Chess Records. Sam Phillips is mostly famous for saying that if he could “find a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel, he could make a billion dollars”, and afterwards discovering Elvis Presley. With Elvis Presley came Rockville and even though a blues revival happened in the sass, the popularity and commercial interest in blues music decreased. In spite of that, Alligator Records, founded in Chicago in 1971, and Fat Possum Records, founded 20 years later, have helped keeping the blues evolving by recording newer artists such as The Black Keys.