HOSTS- Jeremy Burns, Matthew Scott Phillips
BUMPER MUSIC- "Handy With The Blues" (Area 47 Music)
ANNOUNCER- Mike Cunliffe
It's about time to have a discussion about the blues! This can't be done, properly, in one episode. This episode will be the first of a few on the history of the blues. We'll go way back to origins of the African people, in America. We will learn of their struggles that resulted in this rich, emotional, honest and powerful music. This is the story of American music. We're going to take it back to the roots!
-1619- The people of Africa were brought by force to the America via the colony of Virginia. The importation of these people continued until 1808, when congress legislated against it.
-1843- The Virginia Minstrels, a white quartet who would perform the and songs, music and dance of the slaves in the south, began performing in New York. Using black face, they portrayed them in a foolish and disrespectful manor. By the 1850's, African American minstrel acts were performing and being attended by African American audiences.
-1861- The American Civil War began. The Northern and Southern states fought over the southern states desired right to own slaves.
-1863-President Lincoln signed The Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves in the southern states. By the end of the Civil War, around 200,000 freed slaves fought with the north.
-1865- The 13th amendment was passed to officially free the African slaves, though they were not given full citizenship at this point.
-1867- "The Slave Songs Of The United States" was published. This volume contained 136 early spirituals with lyrics and sheet music. The Library at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has made this available at Documenting the American South.
-1890- Antonin Dvorak became the director of The National Conservatory of music. As director, he made the school available free of charge to the African American students. Harry T. Burleigh, who's grandfather was a slave, played and sang many of these songs to Dvorak. This inspired him on his composition "The New World Symphony". He was a big proponent of these spirituals and encouraged other American composers to embrace them.
-1899- The Maple Leaf Rag (Scott Joplin) was published. While there were many other rags in publication at the time, this was the most famous. Ragtime, an upbeat and busy jazz style, maintained high popularity throughout Joplin's career.
-1902- Victor records publishes the first known recording of black music to be pressed on vinyl. This was “Camp Meeting Shouts” by the Dinwiddie Colored Quartet.
-1903- W.C. Handy “Father of The Blues” documented the 12 bar blues. By 1912, he had published the “Memphis Blues”, the first known publication of the 12 bar blues. This paved the way for other New York publishers to do the same.
(See below, my crude chord chart of 3 basic variations of the 12 BAR BLUES)
-1920- Mamie Smith recorded “Crazy Blues” with her Jazz Hounds on Okeh Records. This became the first official hit blues recording. It sold 75,000 copies in the first month and was the first blues vinyl to sell a million copies. This tipped the bigger companies towards acceptance and gave rise to what was known as “race records”.
-Between 1920’s and 1940’s, the “race records” were made for and, in many cases, by the African Americans. By the 1940’s blues and jazz became popular enough with all audiences, that “race records” just became records.
-1923-Ma Rainy "Mother of the Blues" signed with Paramount and recorded over 100 numbers between 1923 and 1928, including “Bad Luck Blues”, “Moonshine Blues” and “Bo-Weevil Blues”. She also recorded “Jelly Bean Blues”, “Courtin’ the Blues” and “See See Rider” with Louis Armstrong. Some of her lyrics touched on subjects such as domestic violence, mischief, drinking, sex and homosexuality.
-1923- Bessie Smith’s “the Empress of the Blues” releases “Downhearted Blues”, which sold over 2 million copies. On the Columbia label, she recorded over 160 albums with accompaniment from some of the greats like, Benny Goodman and Louie Armstrong.
MUSIC STUDENT 101