Blues Music Past Present And Future Cultural Studies Essay

Blues Music: Past, Present, Future

TaShekia Williams

Music Appreciation 105

Blues Music: Past, Present, and Future

Where did blues music come from? How did it start? Blues music: the past, present, and the future. Blues music originally started in the African- American communities in the "Deep South" of the United States. Blues music originated about the 19th century in such states as: Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. These areas are known as the "Deep South." Blues referred to by the color "indigo" was used by West African cultures. This color symbolized mourning, death, and suffering. The comparison of the indigo plant and slave plantations in the United States became the origin of how "blues" came to be.

Slaves would sing as they worked in the cotton fields, probably to pass make the time go by quicker. Blues consisted of many several musical forms and styles. Blues consisted of many other types of music that had already existed such as: spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, and chants. All of these different types of musical sounds or styles joined together and brought forth what we call "blues" music today. The "blues" related to the struggles of the deep South’s heavily populated African- American communities. The word "blues" also derived from the phrase "blue devils," which also means sadness or depression.

George Coleman wrote a short play entitled "Blue Devils" in 1798. The first blues song was written and composed by W.C. Handy in the early 1900’s while him and his band was on tour in Mississippi. This inspired song came about as Mr. Handy was waiting on a train. He heard a man run a knife against the strings of a guitar and he began to sing, Goin’ where the Southern cross the Dog." Ten years later this song

Blues Music: Past Present and Future

was published. Blues music began to spread across the United States, and people are still singing, and writing about the "good ole blues."

Throughout the blues era there were several other types or genres of blues music that came about. Early country blues which was also known as acoustic blues. Early country blues was combined with ragtime, hillbilly, and Dixieland jazz. This Early Country blues was primarily for the college-aged white audience. Another type of blues that had originated was early urban blues. The early urban blues consisted of more rural styling’s of country blues artists. One other type of blues music that originated was pre-world II jazz blues, and this consisted of country blues before World War II. There are several other types of blues music that originated throughout the whole blues music era. These were a few that stuck out the most.

One of the greatest blues legends of all time is B. B. King. Mr. B. B. King introduced the blues to white America. B.B. King was born on a plantation in Mississippi in 1925; his birth name was Riley B. King. Growing up he sang on gospel quartets as a young boy, and he also began to play the guitar as well. He didn’t start playing the blues until 1944 the year that he was drafted, and when he was released he started playing on the streets of nearby Mississippi towns. He went far from home to play because his family referred to "blues music" as the devil’s music. He began to play in different clubs and amateur night contest until he got his big break. In 1949 he made his first recording, but ii wasn’t until 1951 that he had his first big hit. He has won Grammy’s and other awards throughout his lifetime, and he continues to be one of the greatest blues musicians of all time.

Blues Music: Past, Present, and Future

Blues began to spread all over the world. Blues began to appear in Britain after the end of the Second World War. The blues began to catch on and this thing called Blues Incorporated was the band that began to change things up. This was full of young musicians who later went on to the rock and roll hall of fame, and among these young musicians were also several of the rolling stones.

The Rolling Stones, another group that took the world by storm and their music still continues to live on today. They were a British blues group; they mixed Slim Harpo and Muddy Waters with uptown R&B and Chuck Berry. They referred to themselves as evangelist. Many members of the group began to go solo after a while to start their own solo careers.

Not many women were mentioned throughout the blues era. Ms. Etta Baker, born Ms. Etta Lucille Reid, she was born in North Carolina. Etta played the 6-string and the 12 string acoustic guitar and she also played a 5- string banjo. She played the Piedmont Blues for over ninety years. She started playing at the age of three, and she could not hold the guitar that well yet. Her father, Boone Reid taught her how to play the guitar. She was first recorded in 1956 by Paul Clayton. Etta had nine children and she received several awards throughout her life. At the age of ninety three she died.

Another great singer and entertainer of all time, well one of my favorite singers who paved the way for many singers of today such as Beyoncé Knowle, Alicia Keys, and many others. Etta James, was born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles, California. Etta James was credited toward bridging the gap between rhythm and blues, and also

Blues Music: Past, Present, and Future

rock and roll. She was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 and in 2008. Etta took professional vocal training lessons at the age of five. She started singing in the church choir at an early age as most stars did back then and in this present age. Etta James died after suffering from an illness in 2012. Her vocal styles will never be forgotten and they will live on as long as music continues to live on.

Another woman that should be recognized as part of this blues era was Bianca Thornton, also known as Lady Bianca. She was an American electric blues singer, songwriter, and arranger. She played the role of Billie Holiday in 1972 in a stage production of "Evolution of the Blues." She was a background vocalist for Sly and the Family Stone and a keyboard player also. She was a part of many groups doing background vocals while starting her own production company. She continues to write and produce music today. This is an example to me of hard work, patience, and endurance. Just because someone is in the forefront all of the time does not mean that they are the star. Sometimes it is good to be behind the scenes in the background, learning the ropes.

Blues music: the origin of blues, some of the people that were influential in the blues era, and where does this leave us now? Where and how is blues going to continue to live on? As times change, things most definitely change. As the generations continue to grow older and older, will the new generations of this present age and the future carry on the this music that we call the blues? Music is changing rapidly, and will blues music be a part of the future?

Blues Music: Past, Present, and Future

An article that I read referred to the future of blues music as an endangered species. Many legends and other people from the blues era did not approve of the statement that was made. So, they responded by implying that blues music was alive and well, and that it was not an endangered species. So, some of the blues legend simply implied that the reporter did not know what he was talking about

Over the years new artist have taken what was simply blues music and started calling or adding other names or sub-categories to it. Such as, the delta blues, folk blues, Chicago blues, and of course there are many other subtitles. Basically, none of these sub- categories really matter at the end of the day. What is important is if the roots of blues music are it still going to live on and thrive in our future music. What matters is if our children and our grandchildren will they care to find out how blues music originated. Will they even care if blues music goes on?

What can we do as parents and grandparents to make sure that blues music lives on just like any other music? We have to take it upon ourselves to educate our children and our grandchildren about the things that we would like for them to know about. So, when it is time for them to one day tell their children and grandchildren about blues music, it will never die, the origin of how blues music was started and how it was continued and most of all how it continues to live today will never be forgotten, it will always be remembered in our hearts, minds, and our souls.

There are not many blues music bars that exist for today, and that makes it kind of impossible for the blues musicians to showcase their talents. They do not have a plat

Blues Music: Past, Present, and Future

form to play on, and that makes it hard for the blues sound to be continuously sounded throughout the atmosphere. The only blues club that I am aware of that still exists in order for blues artist showcase their talent is B.B. King’s club. Probably just like any other arena or stage you have to know somebody to at least get a chance to come to the club and play.

Blues music is considered an art and it consist of being creative. Without a creative mind to be a blues artist will be almost impossible because these two elements work hand in hand. They tend to complement each other well. Many genres and era of music have come and gone throughout time, but it makes a difference when something has roots. Especially when the roots are grounded deep into the soil, which means that it will not be easily plucked up. It also means that it won’t be easily tossed from here to there when a strong wind blows. Instead, it will remain firm and grounded, not easily plucked up, not easily bothered by what people may say about it. Blues music has a strong foundation that has been established for many centuries. It has changed over time; it has had different sub- categories and names that it is called. One name that remains the same throughout the years is the B-L-U-E-S!!! It has never changed, it has remained the same.

Who would have thought that blues music would have been such a big era such as it was? Surely not the slaves singing in the cotton fields, they were singing to pass the time away, but most of all they sung because of the sadness and the sorrow that they felt. I believe that they believed that it would get better one day.

Blues Music: Past, Present, and Future

There is always something about music that calms or eases your mind. Music can calm a raging beast, and when you’re not having such a great day it can help you take your mind off of what’s bothering you I the first place. We’re not talking about just any kind of music; we’re talking about blues music. This kind of music, Blues music soothes the minds and the souls of those who continue to listen to the music of the past.

Blues music shall continue and remain one of the best types or genres of music of all times. As we continue to let it remain a part of our heritage, it will live on in our hearts, and in our minds. We have to tell generations to come about the origin of blues music and some of the great musicians who helped or had something to do with blues music being as great as it is and was. Blues music, the past, the present, and most definitely the future as long as we allow it to be.

Blues Music: Past, Present, and Future