After reviewing the website, and listening to the featured artists, I started to understand the differences between what I usually considered to be Folk under the white umbrella and what I have now been exposed to by way of Survey of African American Music. Initially, I thought folk music to be a genre that included Indie white artists who enjoyed playing the guitar in a semi-unconventional way that also mirrored a form of grassroots music. A genre that I probably would not have gone out of my way to listen to had I not been taught that it, like every other music group/ genre, has borrowed elements from the black community.
Folk music seems to be a very distinct genre and sound but many blues artists have also been categorized within this spectrum. The transition from Folk to Blues is very clear and obvious, especially when listening to the guitar riffs and the deep down south sorrowful sound that emerges throughout the song. Seemingly, every other website outside of Black Music Scholar has done a great job of whitewashing what is clearly a very black influenced genre. Reading about Leadbelly was very interesting to me, my first exposure to him was through a poem titled “The Blues Don’t Change” by Al Young, who quotes Leadbelly in which he says “all negros have the blues.” Being that Leadbelly was born in 1888, I really noticed how “original” his music sounds. Very simple in instrumental use, but very complex and textured in feeling and emotion. With Folk, being partial Blues, a lot of the Folk music encompassed sadness in terms of struggle and a continuance of “bad luck” per say, whether that included a woman leaving or life being unbearable for the black man.
Folk seems to be a very timeless music genre, in that there have been lots of remakes of some of the more popular songs. Simply, because the black struggle is still very prominent today, in different variations, but nonetheless effective. Today’s hip-hop has many elements of folk music lingering in it from artists such as Common, Talib Kweli, and the Roots as they speak on similar topics of original Folk music.
I think my understanding of the genre seems to be that, the sound is very strong and powerful and very universal among mostly all black folks regardless of their diaspora, but specifically the deep down south black folks who sang to ensure that they kept their spirits high in the bluest of times.