Blues

Blues

Born in the Mississippi Delta.

Cultural Origin

Early 20th-century in the Mississippi Delta

Influenced By

Work songs and field hollers, minstrel show music, Ragtime

Blus greats Son House (left) and Memphis Minnie
Blus greats Son House (left) and Memphis Minnie

About The Genre

Birthed in the South, the Blues evolved from spirituals, field hollers, work songs, and other African and African American musical traditions. It traveled from the Mississippi Delta upriver to New Orleans and in the 1930s and 1940s traveled up the Mississippi to Chicago and other urban areas. It is impossible to overestimate the impact of traditional Blues on 20th-century popular music. It birthed the rhythm and blues, rock and roll genres, and had a major influence on jazz and country music.

"While blues lyrics often deal with personal adversity, the music itself goes far beyond self-pity. The blues is also about overcoming hard luck, saying what you feel, ridding yourself of frustration, letting your hair down, and simply having fun. The best blues is visceral, cathartic, and starkly emotional. From unbridled joy to deep sadness, no form of music communicates more genuine emotion."

From SantaFe.com "A Brief History of The Blues"

Trivia/Famous Lyrics

DId you know...

I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees
I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees
Asked the Lord above for mercy, "Save me if you please"

From Cross Road Blues by Robert Johnson



The gypsy woman told my mother, before I was born
I got a boy child's comin', gonna be a son of a gun
He gonna make pretty womens, jump an' shout
And then the world wanna know, what this all about

From I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man by Willie Dixon

Artists from this genre

Bessie Smith

Bessie Smith

The Empress of the Blues.

Blind Lemon Jefferson

Blind Lemon Jefferson

Wrote and recorded "Black Snake Moan."

Ma Rainey

Ma Rainey

Mother of the Blues.

Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson

The King of the Delta Blues.

MORE Genres from this era

Jazz

Jazz

Born in New Orleans with roots in ragtime and the blues.

Swing

Swing

The dominant form of American dance music for over a decade.

Country & Folk

Country & Folk

Black musical tradition is a part of its core.

Gospel

Gospel

The progeny of spirituals and cousin to the blues.