I don't care too much about music. What I like is sounds. -- Dizzie Gillespie
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Blues People: Negro Music in White America

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This book is probably the greatest ever written on the early history of black music in America. With rare clarity and glowing intensity.

"The path the slave took to 'citizenship' is what I want to look at. And I make my analogy through the slave citizen's music -- through the music that is most closely associated with him: blues and a later, but parallel development, jazz... [If] the Negro represents, or is symbolic of, something in and about the nature of American culture, this certainly should be revealed by his characteristic music."

So says Amiri Baraka in the Introduction to Blues People, his classic work on the place of jazz and blues in American social, musical, economic, and cultural history. From the music of African slaves in the United States through the music scene of the 1960's, Baraka traces the influence of what he calls "negro music" on white America -- not only in the context of music and pop culture but also in terms of the values and perspectives passed on through the music. In tracing the music, he brilliantly illuminates the influence of African Americans on American culture and history.
Baraka traces the evolution of black forms such as blues and jazz back to Africa, and presents the reader with genuine insight into the world of the creators of these important 20th century art forms. The book is as gripping as any novel you will ever read, and also crammed with facts and mindboggling lines of thought. Anybody with even the slightest interest in modern black music needs to read this book, and consider its contents thoroughly.

Last modified on Sunday, 21 September 2014 20:31