Black women in music Essay

This essay has a total of 1803 words and 9 pages.


Black women in music




Music is a reflection of the community from which it came. African American women
have been reflecting the social, economic, and political experiences of the African American
community through thier music past and present. Each era of change in the African American
community has brought about a African American female revoluntionary. Examples of this can
be seen through the blues and jazz singers of the Harlem Renaissance, soul singers of the civil
rights movement, and the Ryhem and Blues, Hip Hop vocalist of the present day.
In the early 1900’s, America was a place of racial division and inequality. The early
1900’s was a time when African American men and women, although by law were free, were not
even considered to be human beings in the eyes of European Americans. African Americans in
the south were engaged in agricultural occupations. Most African Americans of the south
worked under a system called sharecropping, where landowners provided land for workes,
whose responsibility it was to raise crops and at harvest time, the workers were to give a share of
their profits to the landowner. Under the sharecropping system, African Americans workers
were often mistreated by European Americans, which kept them in a state of poverty. The
Sourthern states began to pass Jim Crow laws that segregated African Americans from schools,
neighborhoods, jobs, and public facillities.
Many African Americans sought to escape the racism of the south by moving to more
industrialized cities in the North. With the movement of African Americans to the North came
the Harlem Renaissance, an African American movement in New York in which African
Americans began to more freely express themselves and their ideas through art, literature, and
music. However, in the north African Americans had not fully escaped racism. In the north,
African Americans often were not able to find good jobs and good pay. African Americans were
forced to become domestics or factory workers with little chance for advancement in the north.
African Americans in the 1900’s were plagued with racism.
Known as the “Empress of the Blues.” Bessie Smith was the female muscial
revoluntionary singer of the early twentith century. Smith was touring professinally with a troupe
by the age of nineteen and by the time she was twenty-nine sold over 780,000 copies of her first
recording “Downhearted Blues.” Smith was a blues singer popular with both black and white
audiences. For African Americans though, Smith was more thatn just a popular entertainer. To
African Americans, Smith was a strong, independant African American woman with tremendous
talent and determination. Despite Smith’s popularity with withe audiences, she was
noncompromising. Smith’s singing style was direct, confrontational, truthful, and passionate.
An example of the aspects of Smith’s music can be found in her lyrics to “Poor Man’s Blues.”
which she worote.

Mister rich man, rich man, open your heart and mind.
Mister rich man, rich man open up your heart and mind.
Give the poor man a chance, help stop these hard, hard times
When you’re living in your mansion, you don’t know what hard time mean.
Poor working man’s wife is starving, your wife is living like a queen.

Now the war is over, poor man must live the same as you.
If it wasn’t for the poor man, mister rich man, what would you do.

In the song “Poor Man’s Blues, “ Smith points out that society often claims that the poor are
dependent upon the wealthy for financial security. However Smith turns the table revealing that
the rich are equally dependent upon the poor for their financial security. The rich are dependent
upon the poor to work their low paying factory jobs, clean thier houses, and to chauffer their
cars. Smith used her music as a vehicle to express her concerns for a society plagued by racism.
Along with Bessie Smith, in the early twenth century was Billie Holiday, a female jazz
singer. Holiday’s singing career began in the 1930’s when she started singing in New Yourk
night clubs. Holiday sung for over twenty-five years in the United States and Europe. Holiday
also sung about the plight of African Americans. One of Holiday’s most well known songs for
example is “Strange Fruit”, which describes lynching in the American south.

Sourthern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black body swinging in Southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging frome the popular trees.
Billie Holiday also co-wrote and sung “God Bless the Child”, which speaks poverty in the
African American community.

Rich relatives give crust of bread and such
You can help yourself but don’t take too much
Momma may have, popa may have
But God bless the child that got his own
That’s got his own.
Holiday used her music to speak out against the societal issues facing African Americans.
The 1960’s sparked a movement for social change in the African American community.
In the 1960’s, conditions in the United States were still not good for African Americans. African
Americans were still experiencing inferior positons compared to European Americans. African
Americans acquired the worst housing, schooling, the lowest paying jobs, and segregation was
still a major part of Sourthern life. The conditions of African Americans in the 1960’s sparked
the Civil Rights Movement. The Civil Rights Movement was where African Americans
participated in bus boycotts, sit-ins, and long marches and other forms of portest in the pursuit of
equality.
The revoluntionary female singer of the 1960’s was Aretha Franklin. Franklin, known as
the queen of soul, was born in Memphis Tenesse in 1942. Franklin was the daughter of a world
famous preach; the Reverend C.L. Franklin. In the 1960’s, Franklin became one of the biggest
international recording stars in music, selling 250,000 copies of her first record within the first
two weeks of its release. Franklin rose to fame singing sungs entitled “Dr. Feelgood”, “Do Right
Woman Do Right Man”, “I Never Loved a Man”, “Chain of Fools”, “Baby I Love You”, “ I Say
a Little Prayer”, and “The Little House Jack Built”.
Continues for 5 more pages >>




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