The Blues: Sad Music or Storytelling?

The Blues: Sad Music or Storytelling?

Blues began in the Mississippi Delta and became a mix of church style music, which morphed into work songs or songs that focused on the here and now. Typically sung while performing manual labor used the call and response method aforementioned in the Negro Spirituals genre, where one person would “call” and their peers would “respond” accordingly with the next line or repeat what was said before.  Being a creative people the instrumentals for work songs would be comprised of essentially anything one could find like household supplies such as washbasins & watering pots. Luckily this time around the man who wrote down & published blues songs was a black man from St. Louis named W.C. Handy but often called “The Father of Blues”. Because of the time period blues was created it became bigger than ever. The presence of media is what sent the “12 Bar Blues”, “Finger Slides” and “Call & Responses” of blues through the roof. At the same time blues was going on there was a shift going on in the country from the “Roaring Twenties” to eventually the “Great Depression”. Also, at the time New York became the capital of music and helped blues morph into a powerhouse force. During the early 20’s companies began to release “Race Records” which were records of music made by black people for black people. Although race records were being released the money was in publishing rather than in recording because there was not much to record on until close to the 1930s-40s.  In the blues era came Buffet Flats which were places where you could get entertainment, food and a bed all in one stop. There were also quite a few musical “celebrities” too, like Ida Cox, Bessie Smith (the first Blues Superstar) and BeBe King. Blues was created by blacks to create a space for our grief to be expressed.

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