The Effects of Blues Music on Civil Rights

2432 WordsApr 22, 201310 Pages
Blues Music | Influences on Civil Rights in the United States | Addy Phillips | Eddie James “Son” House, Jr., an American blues singer and guitarist once stated, "People keep asking me where the blues started and all I can say is that when I was a boy we always was singing in the fields. Not real singing, you know, just hollerin', but we made up our songs about things that was happening to us at the time, and I think that's where the blues started (Cohn, 1993).” House, living through the development of the blues and the Civil Rights Movement, had a definite grasp on the subject at hand. Having changed his lifestyle from the church to blues, he faced many hardships including a deadbeat father, alcoholism, affairs, and prison…show more content…
No black person can escape the blues, because the blues are an inherent part of the black existence in America. To be black is to be blue. The blues tell us about black people’s attempt to carve out a significant existence in a very trying situation. The purpose of the blues is to give structure to black existence in a context where color means rejection and humiliation. Suffering and its relation to blackness is inseparable from the meaning of the blues. Without pain and suffering, and what that meant for black people in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas, there would have been no blues. The blue mood means sorrow, frustration, despair, and black people’s attempt to take these existential realities upon themselves and not lose their sanity. The blues are not art for art’s sake, music for music’s sake. They are a way of life, a life-style of the black community; and the will for survival. Thus to seek to understand the blues apart from the suffering that created them is to misinterpret them and distort the very creativity that defines them (Cone, 1980). Though the blues were developed in the rural southern United States, toward the end of the 19th century, and found a wider audience in the 1940s as blacks migrated to urban areas. Jazz music has dozens of variations and also utilizes elements from other genres. Albeit the fact that it is
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