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Music Defines Who You Are Essay

1057 words - 5 pages

The mid-century Los Angeles was a huge obstacle for many of the races and ethnicities, such as African Americans and Hispanics; it was difficult for these non-white groups to have a lot of rights in comparison to whites. Although these racial groups suffered greatly during the mid-century in Los Angeles, individuals such as Johnny Otis and Little Julian Herrera brought these groups together through their music by unifying them as a whole. By doing so, it provided the communities with some sense of freedom through the music they played. Despite their differences in reinventing themselves through race, they both believed in politics of leisure and unified the racial communities with their ...view middle of the document...

179). On the other hand, Little Julian Herrera, originally Ronald Wayne Gregory, was a Hungarian Jew from the East Coast. According to Jean Aguilera, he hitch hiked across the United States and ended up in Boyle Heights when he was thirteen, where he “got taken in by a Latino family whose last name was Herrera and he assumed that last name” (Carlson, Little Julian’s Secret, 6:50). With the last name, it allowed him to become part of the Hispanic community along with the music he developed. However, it was found that “Julian Herrera was bouncing through life, but on a much deeper level…he was bouncing through cities, through families, through identities” (Carlson, Little Julian’s Secret, 14:25). Julian reinvented himself by “using the kind of cultural materials they see as available to them” (Carlson, Little Julian’s Secret, 14:44). Although both Johnny Otis and Little Julian were musicians outside of their race, they switched their identities for different reasons.
Because ethnic groups, such as Blacks and Hispanics had restricted rights, leisure time was important for them. Despite Johnny Otis’s and Little Julian’s history in reinventing themselves, they believed in politics of leisure. Their way to have leisure time was through music in which they would spend time enjoying it with other people. Johnny Otis lived his entire life through the music of art. He “insisted that the blues was a living, vibrant, and ever-evolving form, a music with something to offer all people” (Lipsitz, Midnight at the Barrelhouse, p. 136). His creation through music gave the opportunity for people to get together and enjoy the music. Such songs like the “Hand Jive” brought unification to the community by getting people to do the hand jive (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOrQTh_Cq7U). Simple dancing gestures brought people together. Gil Rocha, a vibes player had taken a picture of Julian Herrera at the Calypso Inn. He tells Alex Schmidt, “I was sitting there watching him. I was looking at his face when he was spinning around. He had his big smile in his face and his big eyes...

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