Memphis Music chasing the racial blues away?

Music was a key to desegregation? A few weeks ago this idea would not have made very much sense to me. Music is nothing more then controlled noise at variant pitch and volume; so how could something so innoculous and disparate be related to one of America’s most infamous and multifarious social problems of the20th Century? Despite my preconcieved notions to the contrary, all of the data we have collected thus far regarding the “Chitlin Circuit” suggests music was a successful platform in the desegregation of the South. During the “Chitlin Circuit” era, it was not uncommon for a Caucasion guitar player to feature for a predominatly African-American band, nor was it rare for an African American trumpet player to feature a Caucasion supporting cast. Many African American entertainers would perform reguarly to predominantly white crowds. Artists such as W.C. Handy and Ray Charles would perform in clubs owned by Caucasions and perform to a predominatly Caucasion audience. But how was this level of comfort and industrial integration achieved?
The “Chitlin Circuit” was known primarily for its heavy Blues foundation, as well as Rock N’ Roll. Both of these genres have a glaring similarity in their provenance; they were both developed and popularized by African-Americans. From the 1800’s until the late 1960’s, if one heard these types of music it was likely being recorded or performed by an African American group. However, in the mid 20th Century, race lines began to blur. Caucasion performers began to sing along with their African American counterparts , and a few artists, such as Elvis Presley, made signifigant contributions to the genres as a whole. In short, if one observes the social makeup of performers on the “Chitlin Circuit,” and recognizes the role that the involvement of Caucasions played in developing their genres, it is easy to see that without the racial unity that developed in the period, music would not be the way it is today. Integration began at the Blues Clubs on Beale. Integration began in recording studios, radio stations, and concert halls throughout the nation. Integration began, unequivitaly, with music.

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Published in: on June 22, 2011 at 9:36 am  Comments Off on Memphis Music chasing the racial blues away?  
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