The History of Blues

Blues is a music genre that emerged from the African-American communities who were brought to American South as slaves in the 1890’s. As they were taken away from the countries they took their special rhythm and musical abilities with them. It was originally derived from blue indigo which was used by many African Cultures in death and mourning ceremonies where the clothes of the mourner were dyed blue to indicate misfortune and suffering. Blues bands generally and most plainly feature guitar (usually electric), drums, double bass (pizzicato), and piano. This ensemble usually accompanies a leading vocalist, however, could be part of instrumental solos.

'Birthplace of the Blues' is known as the Mississippi town called Clarksdale which offers live blues music every night. Blues grew up in the Mississippi Delta just upriver from New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz. Blues and jazz have always influenced each other in countless ways which is why so many people can not differentiate them. Following the end of the Civil War, many black men started to create soulful and melancholy lyrics of many blues songs with emotive and rhythmic music celebrating the life of black Americans. They mixed their music culture with the West. Blues became the new culture of the country’s relatively new popular culture in the 1920s. Between l915 and l940. As huge numbers of African-Americans left the South and went to the North due to hard economic conditions. When the blues moved to the cities and other locales, it took on different regional characteristics. In the 60s and 70s, blues became increasingly merged with rock music to form the rock-blues bands. Through rock and jazz it became more diverse and became a part of other types of music. In the end, even though lots of people consider they don’t know the blues, it is an integral part of all modern music. Wynton Marsalis once said “Everything comes out in blues music: joy, pain, struggle. Blues is affirmation with absolute elegance.”

Some of the famous blues musicians are;

  • Ray Charles

  • Robert Johnson

  • Muddy Waters

  • Howlin ‘Wolf

  • Albert King

  • John Lee Hooker

  • Samuel John Hopkins

  • BB. King

  • Eric Clapton

  • Stevie Ray Vaughan


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