Women _ the Blues - Women & the Blues American Blues...

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American Blues Music
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Who’s Bluesing Who? Wald talks about how the ascendency of the blues begins in 1912 with the publication of the first blues sheet music – “Dallas Blues” “Baby Seal Blues” Memphis Blues” Written by Hart A. Wand Published March 1912 Written by Arthur “Baby” Seales Published August 1912 Written by W.C. Handy Published Sept 1912
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Published 1917 Re-Published 1919 Published March 1914 Published March 1915
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Credit is usually given to Morton Harvey for recording the first blues in 1915 – The Memphis Blues. But if jumping from the sheet music directly to Mamie Smith’s 1920 recording of the “Crazy Blues” misinterprets the entire notion of blues as both pop and folk music, then we also need to look for earlier recordings that fit in either/or both traditions but not just because they had the word “blues” in the title. Those earlier recordings were just as much blues as was Henry “Ragtime Texas” Thomas’s folk songs What becomes primary in considering the development of the blues is not so much a generic definition, but rather one of stylistic elements and how that music was rooted in African American culture. So whether or not the word “BLUES” is on the title, or whether the piece follows a typical blues format is NOT as important as whether the music emanated from African American roots, and if this is the case then we have to call Sophie Tucker’s “Some of These Days” recorded for Edison in 1911, the first blues recording.
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Tucker was born in Russia in 1884 and came to America with her family before the turn of the century. She started singing in her family’s restaurant while a teenager. She started performing in minstrel shows and vaudeville in blackface and became known as a “coon shouter.”
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Tucker opened the door for a whole host of white female artists to begin recording either blues, or blues-oriented songs Harris was the first performer to wear the billing-title “Queen of the Blues” Marion Harris began recording in 1916 and was so good at singing the blues that W.C. Handy said: “She sang the blues so well that people hearing her records sometimes thought that the singer was colored”
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Marie Cahill was another of the white female singers to emerge between the years of the emergence of blues sheet music and the first Black blues recording. Cahill’s 1917 version of “The Dallas Blues” was one of the first recordings to approach the 12 bar AAB format It was through these early white recordings, on which race was either just assumed or didn’t matter, that most of American got turned on to the Blues
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Finally in 1920 Mamie Smith made the first blues recording by an African American: The Crazy Blues Mamie Smith
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Mamie Smith was born in Cincinnati in 1883. By the time she was 10 she had left home to work as a dancer. She worked constantly throughout the early 1900s until hooking up with
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Women _ the Blues - Women & the Blues American Blues...

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