Impact Of Rhythm And Blues On African American Culture

1035 words - 4 pages

Rhythm and blues, also known today as “R & B”, has been one of the most influential genres of music within the African American Culture, and has evolved over many decades in style and sound. Emerging in the late 1940's rhythm and blues, sometimes called jump blues, became dominant black popular music during and after WWII. Rhythm and blues artists often sung about love, relationships, life troubles, and sometimes focused on segregation and race struggles. Rhythm and blues helped embody what was unique about black American culture and validate it as something distinctive and valuable.
The term “rhythm and blues” was coined in 1947 by a white man named Jerry Wexler who was a reporter, editor, and writer for Billboard Magazine. The record companies that were distributing black trendy music were labeling the chart names: Harlem Hit Parade, Sepia, and Race Music. Wexler acknowledged these names to be demeaning to the black community so he then changed the name to a more tasteful and acceptable rhythm and blues. Wexler also signed and produced many of the most popular black singers of the last fifty years, including Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, LaVern Baker, and Ruth Brown. Wexler was much more than a top executive — he was a national tastemaker and a prophet of roots and rhythm. The impact of his deeds matched his larger-than-life personality. Because of him, we use the term "rhythm and blues" and we hail Ray Charles as "Genius" and Aretha Franklin as "Queen." We came to know of a record label called Stax and a small town called Muscle Shoals, Alabama. (Kahn, 2008). Stax was renowned for its output of African American music like jazz, gospel, funk, and blues.
The most frequently used connotation of the term rhythm and blues is a sophisticated urban music developing since the late 1940's with humerus lyrics and upbeat rhythms. From the 1950's to the 1970's rhythm and blues bands usually consisted of piano, guitars, drums saxophone, bass, and were sometimes accompanied by background vocalists. New World Encyclopedia (2008) states As rhythm and blues combined the elements of jazz, gospel music and the blues, it thus created a very personalized form of melody and rhythm which has become known as one of the outstanding styles of American music. From jazz and its combination of African black folk music blended with European folk and pop music, rhythm and blues incorporated the syncopated beats supported by colorful chordal combinations to mirror the emotions and experiences of the composer and singer/musician.
The term rhythm and blues has had several different meanings. In the early 1950's it applied to blues records, in the late 1950's it applied to electric blues along with gospel and soul, in the 1960's it was called soul music, and in the 1970's it was a blanket term for soul, funk, and disco. Much of the popular electric guitar-led blues bands like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and BB King that came from Memphis and Chicago were...

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