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Essay: African American Blues/Jazz

Uploaded by melo05 on Mar 08, 2005

Although the enslaved African people who were brought to America could not bring their musical instruments with them, they did not forget their musical traditions. Some slaves were not allow to speak their native language in American and added their own traditions styles to European American songs and Dances. They passed on traditional African musical styles from generation to generation. Gradually, several styles of African American music emerged in the United States. Today, two of the best styles are Blues and Jazz.

The blues most likely began as solo singing. Blues have come from story songs, called ballads, and other songs that were sung at lively dances. Blues Singers Made slight changes to original melodies and rhythm ion order to add emotional expression, including sounds of moaning or crying. The emotions expressed were often sad and mournful. Later on, instruments such as the guitar, banjo, and harmonica were added to accompany solo blues singing. Eventually the piano, bass, drums, brass, and wood wind instruments were also added. Today, musicians follow a specific form or pattern of phrases when they sing or play the blues. One of American’s most famous blues Singers was Bessie Smith (1894-1937).

Bessie was known as the Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith Was Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Bessie's career began when she was 'discovered' by none other than Ma Rainey when Ma's revue, the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, was passing through Chattanooga around 1912 and she had the occasion to hear young Bessie sing. Ma took Bessie on the road with the show and communicated, consciously or not, the subtleties and intricacies of an ancient and still emerging art form. Bessie started working small-time traveling tent shows, such as Charles P. Bailey troupe and Pete Werley’s Florida Cotton Blossoms, carnivals, and honky-tonks. Her first recording, Down Hearted Blues, was released in the spring of 1923. Though released without special promotion, it was an immediate success, and had sold over two million copies by the end of the first year of release, an immense number for that time. Bessie started touring on the best race artist vaudeville circuits booked by the Toby, or TOBA, short for Theatre Owners Booking Associations, but also thought to stand for Tough on Black Artist. During the mid-twenties Bessie toured the entire south and most of the major northern cities, always as the star attraction on the bill. She was the highest paid Black entertainer...

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Uploaded by:   melo05

Date:   03/08/2005

Category:   American History

Length:   10 pages (2,184 words)

Views:   2864

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