1946 – 1960
The period between 1946 and 1960 saw Black music reach a wider audience. The center of the blues universe shifted from the Mississippi delta to Chicago, and artists like John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson began experimenting with amplification. The new format, electric blues, was perfected by the genius Muddy Waters.
This era also saw the birth of the most commercially and culturally dominant music genre of the 20th-century, rock & roll.
In 1951, Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm record "Rocket 88," often cited as the first rock & roll record. In 1955, Chess Records released Chuck Berry's "Maybellene," and lays down the foundation for rock & roll lead guitar. Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and others who started their careers in swing bands created the new form of jazz known as bebop.
The big bands get smaller and grittier.
Jazz music moves off the dance floor.
The blues follows the Great Migration north and plugs in.
The biggest musical phenomenon of the 20th century.
Urban-born rich vocal harmonies combined with teen romance.
June 27, 1948
The Ink Spots, who were the first African Americans to appear on television in 1936, become the first Black performers to appear on the Ed Sullivan show.
July 26, 1948
Moved after learning of a brutal attack on a Black veteran, President Harry Truman issues Executive Order 9981 directing the military to end segregation.
1948 to 1951
The planned community of Levittown in Nassau County, New York is constructed. Blacks were restricted from purchasing homes under the original housing covenant.
“Rocket 88,” considered to be the first rock & roll record, is released. It was recorded by Ike Turner and his Rhythm Kings despite the credit on the label.