Commodification of the Blues

The Blues originated in the Mississippi Delta as an expression of the struggles faced by African-Americans in the Deep South. As time went on, the Blues began to spread throughout the United States, gaining acknowledgment from both Blacks and Whites. This could be contributed to the Great Migration, as former slaves and their families began to move up North for a better life. But, often, with exposure of any kind comes commodification.

White artists turned these songs of struggle of the oppressed into their own, resulting in the Blues often be considered as a genre created by White artists. Not only have the profits acquired by White artists not been shared with the African-American community, but our people’s stories have not been included nor has the origin been acknowledged. Much credit has to be given to African-American Blues musicians over the decades that have kept the stories of our ancestors in their musical compositions. Legendary Black artists in the genre include B.B. King, Bessie Smith, and Buddy Guy.

-Ivorie Farley-Cook

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