The earliest example of Blues were found in the form of work songs. Work songs were created by Black men laying down the railroads. The songs enabled them to work in a rhythmic fashion and sing about their struggles. A large characteristic of blues was singing about current struggles. Because of this blues deterred Black audiences who didn’t want to dwell on the past or present. It did however attract white audiences who enjoyed the element of storytelling. Through Blues, due to the noticeable lack of Black support, emerged Race Records which was music by Black people for Black audiences. Another characteristic of Blues is it’s written and performed in 12 bars. Blues reigned throughout the early to mid 20th century. Memphis and St. Louis are said to be the birthplaces of Blues.
Blues emerged during a time when radio was becoming popularized so the commodification of Blues relied heavily on the radio. One of the most famous Blues publishers was a Black man, W.C. Handy. Handy nicknamed himself the Father of the Blues. Another method of commodification of the Blues were minstrel shows. Minstrel shows were a form of entertainment where Black people acted ignorant and in accordance with degrading stereotypes to please white audiences. A popular minstrel performer was the renowned Bessie Smith.
Popular Blues singers are listed above along with the publishing mogul W.C. Handy. To the right is a popular blues song, Mannish Boy, by another popular Blues singer Muddy Waters.