Citation

Black, White and Blue: Racial Politics of Blues Music in the 1960s

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Abstract:

My presentation will focus on blues music’s intricate web of racial taxonomies, an aspect that has been neglected by most existing studies of the genre. In particular, I am interested in significant changes that took place in the 1960s under which blues was reconfigured from “black” to “white” in its production and reception while simultaneously retaining a notion of authenticity that remained deeply connected with constructions of black masculinity. In the larger context of the Civil Rights Movement and the burgeoning counterculture, audiences for blues music became increasingly white and European. In their romantic embrace of a poverty of choice, white audiences and performers engaged in discourses of authenticity and in the commodification, racialization and gendering of sounds and images as well as in the confluence of blues music’s class origins. I argue that as white people started to listen to black blues, essentialist notions about “race” remained unchallenged and were even solidified in the process. By the end of the 1960s, moments of cross-racial communication and a more flexible approach to racialized sounds had been thwarted by nostalgia for and a reification of essentialist categories. This marked the emergence of a conservative blues culture that has continued into the present.
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Association:
Name: 33rd Annual National Council for Black Studies
URL:
http://www.ncbsonline.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p304650_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Adelt, Ulrich. "Black, White and Blue: Racial Politics of Blues Music in the 1960s" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 33rd Annual National Council for Black Studies, Renaissance Atlanta Hotel Downtown, Atlanta, GA, Mar 19, 2009 <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p304650_index.html>

APA Citation:

Adelt, U. , 2009-03-19 "Black, White and Blue: Racial Politics of Blues Music in the 1960s" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 33rd Annual National Council for Black Studies, Renaissance Atlanta Hotel Downtown, Atlanta, GA <Not Available>. 2014-11-30 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p304650_index.html

Publication Type: Individual Presentation
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: My presentation will focus on blues music’s intricate web of racial taxonomies, an aspect that has been neglected by most existing studies of the genre. In particular, I am interested in significant changes that took place in the 1960s under which blues was reconfigured from “black” to “white” in its production and reception while simultaneously retaining a notion of authenticity that remained deeply connected with constructions of black masculinity. In the larger context of the Civil Rights Movement and the burgeoning counterculture, audiences for blues music became increasingly white and European. In their romantic embrace of a poverty of choice, white audiences and performers engaged in discourses of authenticity and in the commodification, racialization and gendering of sounds and images as well as in the confluence of blues music’s class origins. I argue that as white people started to listen to black blues, essentialist notions about “race” remained unchallenged and were even solidified in the process. By the end of the 1960s, moments of cross-racial communication and a more flexible approach to racialized sounds had been thwarted by nostalgia for and a reification of essentialist categories. This marked the emergence of a conservative blues culture that has continued into the present.


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