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Marketing Protest: Jazz, Black Politics, and the Early 1960s

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Abstract:

This essay seeks to investigate the overtly political 1960 and 1961 albums recorded by Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, and Art Blakey, We Insist Freedom Now, Straight Ahead, and The Freedom Rider, respectively, and asks what the impact and significance of these nationally circulated albums was, especially its effect on the jazz world and its consumers. Working from a perspective that recognizes that these albums are consumer goods whose production is influenced by market capitalism, this study posits that the key to understanding how society engaged with these protest records rests upon recreating the meaning inscribed and conveyed through the modes and contexts in which these albums were marketed to listening audiences.
Research suggests that these records made a meaningful intervention in the struggle for Civil Rights through their ability to place jazz consumers in interaction with the movement’s direct action philosophy. Marketing Protest was the means by which these albums facilitated interaction between the jazz consumer and the Civil Rights movement. Far beyond simply hinting at the nature of the music and its potential uses, the saturation of these albums’ cover imagery, liner notes, lyrics, and record reviews with direct action protest philosophy, communicated that they were selling protest just as much as jazz, if not more.
Under the paradigm of marketing protest “jazz,” as a way to label music, became a marketing tool. By contextualizing their socio-political expressions in the form of jazz, Roach, Lincoln, and Blakey were able to draw the jazz world’s consumers into a mental dialogue with the direct action philosophy of the Civil Rights Movement. In effect their efforts politicized otherwise non-political spaces. The jazz album, a consumer good usually designated for recreational uses, became the vehicle through which the direct action political philosophy penetrated social and cultural spaces designated for leisure and entertainment.
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Association:
Name: Association for the Study of African American Life and History
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http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p208302_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Gaffney, Nicholas. "Marketing Protest: Jazz, Black Politics, and the Early 1960s" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Atlanta Hilton, Charlotte, NC, <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p208302_index.html>

APA Citation:

Gaffney, N. L. "Marketing Protest: Jazz, Black Politics, and the Early 1960s" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Atlanta Hilton, Charlotte, NC <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p208302_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: This essay seeks to investigate the overtly political 1960 and 1961 albums recorded by Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, and Art Blakey, We Insist Freedom Now, Straight Ahead, and The Freedom Rider, respectively, and asks what the impact and significance of these nationally circulated albums was, especially its effect on the jazz world and its consumers. Working from a perspective that recognizes that these albums are consumer goods whose production is influenced by market capitalism, this study posits that the key to understanding how society engaged with these protest records rests upon recreating the meaning inscribed and conveyed through the modes and contexts in which these albums were marketed to listening audiences.
Research suggests that these records made a meaningful intervention in the struggle for Civil Rights through their ability to place jazz consumers in interaction with the movement’s direct action philosophy. Marketing Protest was the means by which these albums facilitated interaction between the jazz consumer and the Civil Rights movement. Far beyond simply hinting at the nature of the music and its potential uses, the saturation of these albums’ cover imagery, liner notes, lyrics, and record reviews with direct action protest philosophy, communicated that they were selling protest just as much as jazz, if not more.
Under the paradigm of marketing protest “jazz,” as a way to label music, became a marketing tool. By contextualizing their socio-political expressions in the form of jazz, Roach, Lincoln, and Blakey were able to draw the jazz world’s consumers into a mental dialogue with the direct action philosophy of the Civil Rights Movement. In effect their efforts politicized otherwise non-political spaces. The jazz album, a consumer good usually designated for recreational uses, became the vehicle through which the direct action political philosophy penetrated social and cultural spaces designated for leisure and entertainment.

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