Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Influence of African American Music

February is African American History Month, and Lincoln City Libraries celebrates it with an African American read-in, as well as displays throughout the library system. In the Polley Music Library, we have had a display of books on the history of African American music. Just thumbing through those books provides a wealth of information about the influence of the musical activities of Black Americans on music.

In the area of popular 20th century music, African Americans transformed it. Ragtime, jazz, the blues, soul, R&B, boogie-woogie, Funk, doo wop, rap and hip-hop are all essentially African American music forms that have gone on to world-wide popularity. Rock music, too, is considered to have "black" roots.

Historically, the "Ethiopian" minstrelsy influenced vaudeville, which in turn influenced the musical stage.

As for religious music, spirituals to gospel music, the African American influence is evident.

And African American performers have participated in all types of music -- singers Paul Robeson and Marian Anderson, composer William Grant Still, and country musician Charley Pride immediately come to mind.

African American music is American music.

You can find information about all of this...and much more in the Polley Music Library. And try listening to the recordings available in the African American Song database from the Polley webpage. (You'll need your library card number to log in).

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