The early part of the 20th century saw a constant rise in popularity of African-American blues (WP) and jazz (WP). The "white" music press classified African-American music as "race music";[1] the African American press followed suit, and used the term "the Race" to refer to African Americans as a whole, and used the terms "race man" or "race woman" to refer to African American individuals who showed pride and support for their people and culture;[2] This may not merely have been adherence to the mainstream terminology, but an attempt to reclaim the term or even a term of pride. Compare the cognate term "La Raza" for Latin American cultural identity.

Such records were labeled "race records", and were marketed to African Americans, but white Americans gradually began to purchase such records as well. In the 16 October 1920 issue of the Wikipedia:Chicago Defender, an African American newspaper, an advertisement for Okeh records identified Mamie Smith as "Our Race Artist".[3] Most of the major recording companies issued special "race" series of records between the mid 1920s and the 1940s.[4]

Far beyond simply a musical style, rock and roll influenced lifestyles, fashion, attitudes, and language.[5] In addition, rock and roll may have helped the cause of the civil rights movement because both African American teens and white American teens enjoyed the music.[6]

An article on this subject was deleted on Wikipedia:
Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Racism in the early rock music

In the cross-over of African American "race music" to a growing white youth audience, the popularization of rock and roll involved both black performers reaching a white audience and white performers appropriating African American music.[7]

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Rock and roll appeared at a time when racial tensions in the United States were entering a new phase, with the beginnings of the civil rights (WP) movement for desegregation, leading to the Supreme Court ruling that abolished the policy of "separate but equal" in 1954, but leaving a policy which would be extremely difficult to enforce in parts of the United States.[8] The coming together of white youth audiences and black music in rock and roll, inevitably provoked strong white racist reactions within the US, with many whites condemning its breaking down of barriers based on color.[6] Many observers saw rock and roll as heralding the way for desegregation, in creating a new form of music that encouraged racial cooperation and shared experience.[9] Many authors have argued that early rock and roll was instrumental in the way both white and black teenagers identified themselves.[10]

Popular "Rock 'n' Roll" artists' of the 1950's were black people. Some of these artists' include Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Chuck Willis and Ray Charles. Racism was a very big problem in the 50's. Many black people had incredible talent when it came to music, but they were not allowed to enter recording studios' or even showcase their amazing talents because of their skin colour. Until eventually, a white disc jockey from Cleveland named Alan Freed played R&B tunes in 1954 and called it "Rock 'n' Roll". The artists' of these songs were black people. Fans everywhere loved this music but the racism never stopped towards black people. The parents of white teenagers who loved "Rock 'n' Roll" blamed their childrens' sudden change of attitude on black people because they had introduced this new type of music. "Rock 'n' Roll" became the most popular type of music listened to in the 1950's and it is still very popular today.

The concept (championed by Wikipedia) of what is important as being what is popular and/or mainstream and/or empowered by establishment and the status quo corrupts the narrative of early rock music. Thus, black music was not stolen by white musicians because the stolen goods sold well:

"African Americans in the 1940s and 1950s were developing an outgrowth of rhythm and blues into a genre called Wikipedia:rock and roll, which featured a very strong backbeat and whose prominent exponents included Wikipedia:Louis Jordan and Wikipedia:Wynonie Harris. However, it was with white musicians such as Wikipedia:Bill Haley and Wikipedia:Elvis Presley, playing a guitar-based fusion of black rock and roll with country music called Wikipedia:rockabilly, that rock music became commercially appealing. Rock music thereafter became more associated with white people, though it did give some black people, such as Wikipedia:Chuck Berry and Wikipedia:Bo Diddley, a high level of commercial success."

Stolen because it was presented out of context, without credit, and sold to a racist audience, or borrowed by white artists who gave it full homage, and/or were not racist or selling to a racist audience,[11] black music eventually became mainstream, as part of the process of cultural assimilation (WP).

Citations Edit

  1. Template:Cite news
  2. Race Music: chapter 1
  3. Template:Cite news
  4. Peter Gammond, The Oxford Companion to Popular Music, 1991, p.477
  5. G. C. Altschuler, All shook up: how rock 'n' roll changed America (Oxford: Oxford University Press US, 2003), p. 121.
  6. 6.0 6.1 G. C. Altschuler, All shook up: how rock 'n' roll changed America (Oxford: Oxford University Press US, 2003), p. 35.
  7. M. Fisher, Something in the air: radio, rock, and the revolution that shaped a generation (Marc Fisher, 2007), p. 53.
  8. H. Zinn, A people's history of the United States: 1492–present (Pearson Education, 3rd edn., 2003), p. 450.
  9. M. T. Bertrand, Race, rock, and Elvis (University of Illinois Press, 2000), pp. 95–6.
  10. Carson, Mina (2004). "Girls Rock!: Fifty Years of Women Making Music". Lexington. p. 24. 
  11. Booth, Martin (2004), Cannabis: A History, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0-312-32220-8, OCLC 224247248, p. 212. "A few of the white men around Harlem, younger ones whom we called 'hippies', acted more Negro than Negroes. This particular one talked more 'hip' talk than we did."-Malcolm X (WP)