Folk music originated in the early to mid-1900s. Its founding authors are typically unknown, but the music has been kept alive by passing it from generation to generation orally. Although not considered a genre by most, folks’ emergence began in traditional popular culture, but transitioned into “new popular folk” in the late 20th century. This re-emergence of folk was known as the second folk revival.
The sounds that comprise folk is very unique because it tends to vary depending on the culture or environment. Its origin stems from an unknown African country. Some folk music may feature a tribal drum and rhythm that sounds comparable to modern dance music. Different styles of music that have considered to be related to folk include traditional, acoustic, bluegrass, celtic, and old-timey.
Ultimately, folk music is another example of how Black culture becomes gentrified and the amount of effort that is put forth to try to erase the foundation. The styles of original folk music, which was created by Blacks, can be found in genres such as Bluegrass, but have been credited to White composers and musicians. Black folks artists include Elizabeth Cotton and John Lee Hooker, while popular mainstream folk artists include Woody Guthrie and Johnny Cash. The profits that have been made from our music continue to fuel the music industry, yet have been used as a form of oppression by not giving the rights that come with the music to the community that founded it.
Today, most people of African descent do not consider folk music to be apart of Black culture. Ultimately, the folk music that we produced was taken from us, altered, and made into a different style of music. If you turn on the radio and flip through the stations, it is very rare that you hear modern folk music. Folk music is just not mainstream music. When you think about the demographic that listens to folk music the most today, it is typically the White, older generation.
By: Ivorie Farley-Cook & Gabrielle Williams