Blues Me Baby- Shana Sanders


The blues of our nation began deep down in the Mississippi Delta South. The Mississippi Delta was fertile ground for the roots of the blues. With its history of slavery, racial oppression, the Ku Klux Klan, and Jim Crow laws, plus baking heat, rampant illiteracy and poverty, the Delta was a cruel place for many African Americans well into the middle of the 20th century. The blues documented the experience of southern black better than any other form of cultural expression. The blues originated on Southern plantations in the 19th Century. Its inventors were slaves, ex-slaves and the descendants of slaves - African-American sharecroppers who sang as they toiled in the cotton and vegetable fields. It's generally accepted that the music evolved from African spirituals, African chants, work songs, field hollers, rural fife and drum music, revivalist hymns, and country dance music. It was quoted that Son House was asked where he thought the blues comes from and he said, “People keep asking me where the blues started and all I can say is that when I was a boy we always was singing in the fields. Not real singing, you know, just hollerin’, but we made up songs about things that was happening to us at the time, and I think that’s where the blues started.”
The man who has been self-proclaimed as the father of the blues is Mr. W. C. Handy. He was the first to include Blues in a song, Memphis Blues in 1912. He once said, "I've always felt that the blues deal with an epoch in our history, and coming from the same people that gave us the spiritual, they reflected a nominal freedom. All the blues that I've written are either historic or folklore or folksong." In 1903, W.C. Handy sees a bluesman playing guitar with a knife at a train station in Mississippi and gets his inspiration. In 1912, his "Memphis Blues", along with other blues songs are published as sheet music. Many names are remembered from the beginning of the blues including: Willie Brown, Robert Johnson, Son House, Tommy Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, Charley Patton, Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Skip James, and Bukka White; even Elvis Presley is regarded as a blues artist. The blues grew up in the Mississippi Delta just upriver from New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz. Blues and jazz have always influenced each other, and they still interact in countless ways today. Generally, most blues music is comprised of 12 bars (or measures). A specific series of notes is also utilized in the blues. The individual parts of this scale are known as the blue notes. The blues were usually performed in dusty juke joints. The first songs weren't recorded and were only passed down orally until about the 1930s. Once people like Charley Patton, Son House, and Robert Johnson moved their music to the places like Memphis and Chicago to get it recorded, it became a boom of music. The Blues laid down the musical workings for the inspirations for the next generations of music. Once the Delta blues made their way up the Mississippi to urban areas, the music evolved into electrified Chicago blues, other regional blues styles, and various jazz-blues hybrids. A decade or so later the blues gave birth to rhythm 'n blues and rock 'n roll. Muddy Waters said, “The blues had a baby and they called it rock and roll.”

I love the blues, from the sound, the meaning, and the cultural aspects of it; the blues is a wonderful way of speaking your heart. I personally write poetry and I know how hard it is to speak your soul and heart, but also how exhilarating it is as well and I think that the blues overlap with it in many ways. Because the blues has African American roots it does mean a lot to me that my people could make something so beautifully meaningful and still be socially accepted and be the framework for other genres to build from. I love all music and to know the root of it all is very inspiring wonderful knowledge to have. The blues evolved into jazz, country, hip hop, R & B, etc. I believe that every single genre has pulled something from blues.




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