They were enslaved people. Africans who were kidnapped and forced to work on cotton plantations in America. The pickers began to sing to help them get through the difficult and tedious task. The blues were the first songs of a new musical genre.
Trapped – and yet free
Bessie Smith, Robert Lee Johnson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Willie Dixon are blues legends who are both trapped and free. However, numerous smaller lights paved the way for the blues in the mid-nineteenth century before these bright blazing stars.
Slaves from Africa were forced to work in the cotton plantations of wealthy landowners in the south. They sung songs in the fields to help them get through the tedious and exhausting task. The work, which consisted of a set of motions that were always the same, set the pace. The cotton pickers sang songs of love, misery, and desire.
They were transported to their homeland on the other side of the Atlantic by the music. The wistful atmosphere inspired the music style’s name: those who are “blue” (meaning “blue”) are unhappy or melancholy.
The field workers were enthralled by the music. Even in captivity, people might feel free because of it. It offered them a sense of cultural belonging. Despite the fact that white Americans detested this music, the basic melodies won through.
The blues forever changed the music industry, and they continue to impact rock and pop music today.
Harmonica, washboard, and cigar box
The American Civil War concluded in 1865, and with it, slavery was abolished in all U.S. states. African-Americans eventually gained their independence. There was a scene for black music to emerge. Former slaves and their descendants, however, were nonetheless denied equal rights.
However, they should now be able to develop more freely than before – at least to some extent. This was an improvement over the past exploitation and persecution. They had toiled for free as serfs prior to 1865; now they were to be paid for their labor.
Those who could afford it used their funds to purchase a musical instrument. Those with adequate expertise could make a guitar out of the rubbish of the wealthy, with a sound box made of cigar boxes, for example. Washboards were repurposed as rhythm instruments. Harmonicas from Germany were very inexpensive, making them extremely popular.
The musicians expanded on the modest worker’s songs, weaving popular songs from them. As a result, several bands arose. Concert halls were built out of wooden ricks and barns. This original blues music was becoming increasingly popular.
The Chicago blues scene
As a result, the blues may be traced back to the rural south of the United States. Many laborers relocated to the North’s industrial metropolises, particularly Chicago, as a result of industrialization. Because of the growth of population, the city on Lake Michigan was bursting at the seams.
The hustle and bustle of the great metropolis, as well as the loudness and commotion, shaped not only the people but also the music. In Chicago, a new blues scene has arisen. This was a far cry from the traditional blues of the Deep South. Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Bill Broonzy, or Tampa Red The clubs were brought to a boil by me.
The three musicians were all born around the turn of the century and came from the southern United States. All three were signed by a savvy music manager who saw the blues as a lucrative business.
Whites started to admire black music. In the young record business, the first blues tunes were hits.
Williamson, Sonny Boy “Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl” is a song I wrote. Several members of the white rhythm-and-blues guild, including Rod Stewart, Van Morrison, Alvin Lee, and Huey Lewis, covered the song afterwards.
The electric guitar is discovered by blues performers.
The first musicians to utilize electrically amplified guitars were in the 1920s. The new sounds gave the Northern blues a new lease of life.
Following WWII, this progress accelerated dramatically. Muddy Waters, in particular, rose to prominence as one of the most influential and well-known performers in Chicago’s modern-influenced blues scene.
Other musicians were drawn to this new style because of its appeal. Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, and Willie Dixon were all born in the South but moved to Chicago to pursue their dreams.
Dixon wrote masterpieces like “Hoochie Coochie Man” and “I Just Wanna Make Love to You” here in 1954. Muddy Waters was the first to record and release both songs.
The city of Chicago continues to be significant in the development of blues music. The stylistic distinctions between blues from the north and blues from the south have persisted.
The northern blues has a more metropolitan feel, whereas the southern blues has managed to retain its originality – and, with a few exceptions, is dominated by African-Americans. Cities like New Orleans and Memphis are key blues metropolises in the South.
Working-class music takes over the mainstream
Many different musical styles were influenced and cross-pollinated by the popular blues. Jazz, soul, funk, and rock’n’roll all grew out of it. It merged with the folk music brought to the United States by immigrants from all over the world. He also coined the term “rhythm ‘n’ blues” (R’n’B, pronounced “Ar-n-Bi”).
Many white musicians, not just in the United States, were influenced by the R&B sound. In the 1960s, a thriving R’n’B scene arose in the United Kingdom. R&B performers in this town tried to differentiate themselves from the mainstream beat sound. As role models and idols, they selected blues veterans from the United States.
Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Alvin Lee, and the Yardbirds, Ten Years After, Cream, and, last but not least, the Rolling Stones were all part of the R’n’B scene in the United Kingdom. Their music was well-received in the blues capital of the world.
The British launched a full-fledged blues invasion in the United States in the 1960s. Rather from succumbing to the hoopla, American musicians remembered their heritage, and thus black music.