General Question

wolfram's avatar

Where did Blues music originate?

Asked by wolfram (194points) September 29th, 2010

Many cities and countries for that matter claim Blues and Jazz originated in their town. Where do you think the Blues originated?
I contend its Henderson, Kentucky.

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10 Answers

tedd's avatar

From everything I read (and I took a class on it) it originated in the south and worked its way north with impoverished blacks, largely to big cities such as Chicago.

I believe good ol New Orleans was one of the bigger origination cities.

marinelife's avatar

I think you have to look further back. The blues originated from African slave chants, which were call and response form, and ended up being set to music. So I think you can say the South. I suspect it is impossible to pick one city.

YoBob's avatar

There are different flavors of both blues and jazz. However, the origins all share a common root, the folk music of the descendants of Africans living and working in the Southern part of the US. The foundation of these forms of music were “work songs” that generally took a call and response form that some musicologists have traced back to traditional African musical roots.

If you are ever in Clarksdale Mississippi it’s worth the side trip to see the Delta Blues museum. You can also make a stop a few blocks away at the crossroads at the corner of highways 61 and 49. This is the site where Robert Johnson reportedly sold is soul to the devil in exchange for his musical fame.

john65pennington's avatar

A true blue southern music that actually started in the bayous. small radio stations picked up on the sound. bigger stations, like in Memphis, picked up on the sound and the rest is history. original black blues artists are abundant on Youtube. the soulsound of blues carried into every direction of the United States. one of the first original really known artists was Jimmy Reed with his guitar and harmonica. listen to him on Youtube.

wolfram's avatar

In his autobiography W.C. (William Christopher) Handy, considered “Father of the Blues” said, “I didn’t write any songs in Henderson [KY], but it was there I realized that experiences I had had, things I had seen and heard could be set down in a kind of music characteristic of my race. There I learned to appreciate the music of my people, there the blues were born, because from that day on, I started thinking about putting my own experience down in that particular kind of music.”

His dedication to preserving the blues as an art form and his body of work in the Blues inspired the Henderson Music Preservation Society, Inc. to organize a festival that would celebrate the life and musical accomplishments of W. C. Handy. The W.C. Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival held every June has become one of the largest free music festivals in the nation, drawing attendants from just about every state and many countries.

So it appears that both the Blues and Bluegrass music were both born in Kentucky.

BoBo1946's avatar

No single person invented the blues, but many people claimed to have discovered the genre. For instance, minstrel show bandleader W.C. Handy insisted that the blues were revealed to him in 1903 by an itinerant street guitarist at a train station in Tutwiler, Mississippi.

Btw, Tutwiler is a Delta town, right in the middle of lots of Mississippi plantations.

mrentropy's avatar

I’ll say Chicago, with Hart A. Wand and ‘Dallas Blues” in sometime before 1912.

Strauss's avatar

Most musicologists will say the blues originated in the Mississippi delta region before the turn of the last century. As has been stated above, it is an amalgam of African melodies and forms combined with “American” forms, brought by (mostly) Irish and English immigrants within the previous century. The blues has had a profound influence on all genres of music, and along with its cousin, jazz, has had a profound effect on popular music of the last century through today. W. C. Handy was certainly influential in the recognition of the genre as an art form. The blues and jazz have a very similar resume, and elements of each can be found in the other, and then there’s that crazy grey area where you can’t tell one from the other.

LadeeB's avatar

Blues music originated back in the slavery days when all slaves could do was sing about their sorrows after slavery was abolished it became a popular form of music known today as R&B. This isn’t only black slavery. Music has always been a way for people to express themselves. So blues can go for anyone who had been enslaved or persecuted in any form but the mos known was back in slavery times. Along with soul food. Yum

Yellowdog's avatar

As stated above, the Blues started in the Mississippi Delta which includes Memphis and Beale Street—and other towns nearby as far east perhaps as the Shoals of Alabama (Muscle Shoals and Florence). It really took off on Radio in places like Chicago, where many African Americans went to for jobs.

Memphis touts itself as being home of the blues—as does St. Louis—but I think Memphis was actually pretty racially segregated during the blues era and it took the industrial midwest to really bring it to fruitation.

Jazz had similar origins to the Delta but has more influence from Caribbean/West Indies and French Creole mixed in. Tends to sound more like the parties of the Caribbean, even in funerals.

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