Issues in African American Music Power, Gender, Race, Representation

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Issues in African American Music: Power, Gender, Race, Representation
twenty-one essays by leading scholars, surveying vital themes in the history of African

Issues in African
Power, Gender, Race,
Edited by
Portia K. Maultsby and
Mellonee V. Burnim
First published 2017
by Routledge
711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017
and by Routledge
2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN

Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business

© 2017 Taylor & Francis
The rights of Portia K. Maultsby and Mellonee V. Burnim to be identiÞ ed as the
been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised
in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter
invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or

To Our Students

From Whom We Have Learned So Much

Page numbers in italics refer to illustrations; page numbers in bold refer to tables
Adams, Dolly 263–5
Adorno, Theodor 32, 45n44
Africa: African music “living sound” 50; “African
324n25, 325n27; social importance of music
Alexander, James 143–4
Alexenburg, Ron 155, 159
All about Jazz (website) 38
Allen, Johnny 123, 142, 145
Anderson, Marian 71, 204, 360
Apostolic church 181–3, 185, 195n5, 211, 228
Archie Bell & the Drells 153–4, 162
Armstrong, Lil Hardin 244
Armstrong, Louis 9, 66, 95, 244
art music: “double consciousness” identity and
68–9; Mahalia Jackson career and 208–10;
orchestral 72; ragtime influence from 69–70;
spirituals influence from 70–1; vernacular
Atkins, Cholly 116–17, 119
Austin, Lovie 243–4, 265
Axton, Estelle 135–7, 140
Baker, David 72
Baker, LaVern 289–90, 292–3, 295
Bakhtin, Mikhail 37
Ball, Marcia 3–5
band music 69
Baptist Church: blues and 248, 250; Civil Rights
Griffey affiliation 166; Elvis affiliation 57;
Franklin family affiliation 79, 235n42; gendered
leadership in 221–2, 224–5, 232–3; Great
and 191; Lucie Campbell affiliation 202–5;
Mahalia Jackson affiliation 208
Baraka, Amiri 40,
, 119, 133n38
Baring-Gould, Sabine 344–5
Bar-Kays 137, 140, 143–4
Basie, William Allen “Count” 59, 95, 115
Bebey, Francis 50
Bell, Al 140–8
Bell, Thom 99, 152, 154, 157–8
Benjamin, Walter 37
Benson, George 101
Berry, Chuck 13, 55, 288, 289, 296
Beyoncé 105, 106
7. The Motown Legacy: Homegrown Sound, Mass Appeal
Charles E. Sykes
8. Stax Records and the Impulse toward Integration
Rob Bowman
9. Uptown SoundÑDowntown Bound: Philadelphia
International Records
John A. Jackson
10. ÒAnd the Beat Goes OnÓ: SOLARÑThe Sound
of Los Angeles Records
11. Tyscot Records: Gospel Music Production as Ministry
Tyron Cooper
12. Voices of Women in Gospel Music: Resisting Representations
Mellonee V. Burnim
13. Are All the Choir Directors Gay? Black MenÕs Sexuality
and Identity in Gospel Performance
Alisha Lola Jones
14. Women in Blues: Transgressing Boundaries
Daphne Duval Harrison
15. Jazz History Remix: Black Women from ÒEnterÓ to ÒCenterÓ
Sherrie Tucker
16. The Reception of Blackness in ÒWomenÕs MusicÓ
Eileen M. Hayes
17. African American Women and the Dynamics of Gender, Race,
and Genre in Rock ÕnÕ Roll
Maureen Mahon
18. ÒAinÕt NuthinÕ but a She ThangÓ: Women in Hip Hop
Cheryl L. Keyes
19. The Antebellum Period: Communal Coherence
and Individual Expression
Lawrence W. Levine
20. The Civil Rights Period: Music as an Agent of Social Change
Bernice Johnson Reagon
21. The Post-Civil Rights Period: The Politics of Musical Creativity
Mark Anthony Neal
Editors and Contributors
With the publication of
Issues in African American Music: Power, Gender, Race, Repre-
, the revision of our original
Chapter 3 in Part I , ÒThe Politics of Race Erasure in Defining Black Popular Music
Producing a work of this magnitude has proved to be a challenging task. The tremendous
diversity of genres that can be labeled as African American is quite considerable. Further-
more, many viable and instructive approaches to the study of African American music
continue to emerge from various disciplinary perspectives. While we continue to make no
claims to have produced an exhaustive survey of either African American musical genres
themselves or those pervasive issues that prompt our most careful scholarly scrutiny, we
readily acknowledge that indeed the degree of breath and depth which we have in fact
achieved results in large part from the very strong cast of contributors who have lent their
highly valuable proÞ
ciencies to this effort. We extend our Þ rst and primary word of thanks
to those colleagues who have devoted their considerable expertise, energy, and overall
good will to the production of this compilation. For those credited in both the Þ
rst and
second editions, we voice our appreciation for the stabilizing role which your seminal
entry provides in this second edition. To new authors, we celebrate the richness which
your cutting-edge research offers, as you continue to advance and expand the boundaries
are grateful. Critical commentary and editorial expertise provided by Adrienne Seward,
Eileen M. Hayes, and Reebee Garofalo also proved invaluable during the Þ nal stages of
To our mutual friends and extended family members who provided much needed
vocal reinforcement and unfaltering encouragement, we also express our gratitude. While
we cannot name everyone, there are those whose voices of calm and prayers of faith served
as true beacons of light: Jamel Dotson, Cinnamon Bowser, M. L. Hinnant, Clara Hen-
derson, Ruth and Verlon Stone, Valerie Grim, Tyron Cooper, Fernando Orejuela, Carl
Maultsby, Paula Bryant, Raili and Maxie Maultsby, Nancy Allerhand, Richard Lewis, and
Darlene Harbuck immediately come to mind. Although MelloneeÕs dad, Arzo Burnim,
Performing Blues and Navigating Race
in Transcultural Contexts
Susan Oehler Herrick
Royalty routinely visit the White House in America, but how often do kings bring a gui-
tar named Lucille to the presidentÕs home? The King of the Blues, Riley ÒB. B.Ó King,
performed for President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton on July 28,
1999, as part of a millennial celebration of American culture. King reigned as the featured
performer among four other internationally recognized American artists: John Cephas
and Phil Wiggins, Marcia Ball, and Johnny Lang. Later that year, the show was broad-
cast nationally on public television as ÒThe Blues: In Performance at the White House.Ó
According to PBS, the series was designed Òto showcase the rich fabric of American cul-
Susan Oehler Herrick
The broadcast of ÒThe Blues: In Performance at the White HouseÓ acclaims the
cultural value of this African American music in the United States. It pays respect to the
fact that Black artists have spread appreciation for African American traditions to audi-
ences of varied cultural backgrounds within and without the United States (
Figure 1.1
Although racial barriers restricted the musicÕs ß
ow beyond Black American community
(BS-002) by Shunsuke ShunŽ Kikuta and J. W.
and Williams, a Chicagoan, with other American and Japanese artists at Tokyos third
annual Park Tower Blues Festival. Kikuta and Williams played regularly in Chicagos
Courtesy Shunsuke ShunŽ Kikuta
Performing Blues in Transcultural Contexts
by performing two songs popularized after World War II. Pianist Marcia Ball, who honed
uence of Austin,
Texas, in the 1970s, presented her ÒSt. Gabriel.Ó The young crossover guitarist Johnny
Lang began with a song by blues-rocker Tinsley Ellis, showing the close relationship of
blues and rock, a link which continues to appeal strongly to a predominantly White blues
nale, the artists collectively dem-
onstrated the centrality of Black cultural approaches to performance.

In many ways the broadcast projected an intergenerational, interracial moment of
partially shared culture in a symbolic, national institution. In the political contexts of the
twilight of the Clinton administration, we also could read the performance as an immedi-
and Hillary Clinton.)

But the varied musical repertoire and styles of the performance, as well as the long
history of the blues in Black American communities, encourage a more multilayered and
Susan Oehler Herrick
cance of
Performing Blues in Transcultural Contexts
a ÒpureÓ European heritage and frequently distanced themselves from the real-
ity of African cultural inß uences in American life. John Edward Philips argues that Òour
Susan Oehler Herrick
White power holders in the segregation era closely monitored cultural expressions of
Blacks, especially those involving the physical use of the body. Standards of elite White
institutions viewed African American traditional performance in suspicion, with its char-
acteristic value for a holistic and dramatic use of the body to intertwine music and dance.
one can posit the existence of a folk pool shared by both blacks and whites, a common reservoir of songs
known in one form or another by the poorer rural classes, regardless of race.

Performing Blues in Transcultural Contexts
The idea of racially separate musical traditions in the southern
United States historically proves to be a myth, even as particular cultural communities in
the southern United States maintained and identiÞ ed with distinctive musical traditions.
Blues performed by Black musicians, as well
as blues-informed genres
rhythm and blues, shaped the soundscape of some White American communities dur-
ing segregation, but the blues did not become a cultural common denominator among
Susan Oehler Herrick
music to carry a groupÕs intergenerational chain of memories and values. The movement
promoted selected blues artists among a broad range of folk musicians, as deÞ ned by the
largely White middle class and often elitely-educated enthusiasts. Enthusiasts sought to
preserve the music of ÒfolkÓ communities by authenticating sources for vernacular musical
texts that seemed ancient or Òpre-modern,Ó collecting traditional music in transcriptions
Performing Blues in Transcultural Contexts
American life. Consequently, it is important to examine how people deÞ ne, perform, and
Susan Oehler Herrick
customs of segregation (as with the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in
Brown v. The Board of
of Topeka, Kansas, which struck down the doctrine of Òseparate but equalÓ in
public schools), White supremacists denied justice in courtrooms and martyred innocents.
The monumental Civil Rights Act of 1964 wrote into the US Constitution a new founda-
tion for racial equality but did not engender it ready-made.
The Civil Rights Movement teased apart the cultural and economic resources that sup-
ported White supremacy. In the entertainment business, Black artists pursued professional
Performing Blues in Transcultural Contexts
Susan Oehler Herrick
Black-appeal radio, which offered White youths greater sustained access to blues-based
music of Black communities, may have reinforced White musiciansÕ interests in enter-
Performing Blues in Transcultural Contexts
Susan Oehler Herrick
blues songs were a staple in the repertoire of the largely White revivalist-scene performers

The large Ann Arbor (Michigan) blues festival did not take place
During the apex of battles in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, the presence
of blues-based music in the American mainstream surely was eased across racial divides
by its packaging in the hands of White British groups like the Rolling Stones, in addi-
tion to White rock ÕnÕ roll stars like Elvis Presley. White folk revivalist queen Joan Baez
launched her commercial career at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival, and by 1963 she had
charted an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement, ÒWe Shall Overcome,Ó as a pop single.
Beginning in 1963 and 1964, British rock bands fed a style of rock based on aspects of
blues back into commercially mediated soundscapes of the United States, which are said
to have encouraged Bob Dylan to move from folk revivalist conventions to electric instru-
ments and a rock style.

Performing Blues in Transcultural Contexts
recording artists. Independent blues labels ß ourished through the 1960s. Chris Strach-
witzÕs Arhoolie Records grew out of his International Blues Record Club, an organization
to assist in the trade of old, original blues recordings.

and then books expanded printed histories of blues that continued the folk revival empha-
sis of artists and styles of the 1920s to 1940s race recordings.
While the late Robert Johnson and Charley Patton only were accessible on recording,
revivalist promoters located a host of distinguished blues performers who had learned blues
in Black cultural contexts and remained available and interested in professional opportuni-
Susan Oehler Herrick
Performing Blues in Transcultural Contexts
Susan Oehler Herrick
enduring base of Black blues fans, however, the most widely appealing blues artists since
the 1960s have blended in conventions of rhythm and blues and soul music that resonated
with the current soundscape, such as Bobby ÒBlueÓ Bland, ÒLittleÓ Milton Campbell,
Denise LaSalle, Z. Z. Hill, Johnnie Taylor, and Bobby Rush, among others.

White Blues Scenes
By the mid-1960s, White performers of blues such as Michael BloomÞ eld, Paul Butter-
eld, Nick Gravenites, John Hammond, Geoff Muldaur, Charlie Musselwhite, Dave Van
Ronk, and Eric Von Schmidt worked mainly in the folk revival or in new blues scenes
Performing Blues in Transcultural Contexts
with Little Smokey Smothers, a Black bandleader who led a band of hired Black personnel.
eld musically Òheld his own,Ó according to BloomÞ
eld, ButterÞ eldÕs

White associates of ButterÞ eld formed what Nick Gravenites described as a small Òcontin-
eldÕs White friends spread word

Sam Lay, a highly appreciated African American blues drummer,
pointed out that ButterÞ eldÕs draw of White audiences positively impacted the Southside
clubÕs Þ nances; its sizeable, racially Òmixed audienceÓ supported the gigs, and the Blue

Susan Oehler Herrick
billings featuring Charlie Musselwhite and Big Joe Williams, who were later joined by
eld on piano. When Williams left the gig, Musselwhite and BloomÞ
continued with new sidemen who were White, thus ending the interracial composition of
the band. BloomÞ eld switched to guitar, and the band played electriÞ ed blues with a smat-
tering of jazz standards. The context made the band a novelty, although the bandÕs level
of musical achievement varied widely from ÒgreatÓ to Òprobably terribleÓ in the words of
one member.
Performing Blues in Transcultural Contexts
of racial identity, LeRoi JonesÕ
Susan Oehler Herrick

By the 1980s, the acclaimed vocalist and songwriter Denise LaSalle ( Figure 1.3 ) was
well aware of the irony that the blues artists most popular among African American audi-
Courtesy Ecko Records.
Performing Blues in Transcultural Contexts
Susan Oehler Herrick
navigated cultural and racial difference in performing blues. It challenges devaluations of
Blackness, an element of White supremacist ideology.
People have wrestled with dynamics of racial power, however, in this transcultural
process mediated by grassroots musical interest groups and the commercial music indus-
try. Far from escaping or eradicating racial social conÞ nes, people have shaped blues music
with their own expectations as they participated in blues performances with varied degrees
cation with particular sites of Black cultural communities.
Indeed, analysis focused on BlackÐWhite transcultural relationships in blues music scenes
is valuable for understanding connecting points in the quilt of American culture. Examina-
tion of the cultural values of Whites also is valuable for the sake of understanding borders
cally how seemingly benign ideals fostered in
White community life sanction White privilege and Ònon-WhiteÓ racial subordination in

Historical analysis reveals how blues music lovers have navigated dynamics of
social race across cultures. Rather than understanding the exchanges as a colorblind
transcendence to a universal mode of harmony, it seems more historically responsive
to understand the embraces as a negotiation of differences that, at the time, seemed
to many to be relatively free of interpersonal racial bias. Acknowledgment of these
social complexities, which not only challenged but also sustained racial and cultural
barriers, does not diminish the value of the connections made across them. Acknowl-
Performing Blues in Transcultural Contexts
Oehler 2001.

As the website of the Clinton Presidential Library states, President Bill ClintonÕs 1998 impeachment by the
House of Representatives grew from his Òrelationship with a young internÓ (http://www.clintonlibrary.
deals also became media events discussed as ÒscandalsÓ by the public at large.

ÒNorthbound Blues,Ó as performed by Maggie Jones (Columbia Records 14902), quoted in Barlow 1989,

I follow Reebee GarofaloÕs use of the term Òsocial raceÓ in discussing Òsocially constructed raceÓ in Black
popular music in the United States (Garofalo 1993, 234Ð235).
Omi and Winant 1994, 13.
Ellison 1994 (1964), 78.
Hunter 2000, 147.
Philips 1990, 237.

Susan Oehler Herrick

Dixon and Snowden 1989, 120Ð141.

Oliver 1991, 65Ð66.

Cantwell 1996, 296Ð300; Hajdu 2001, 69, 76, 83, 94Ð99, 107, 158.

See Groom 1971, 17; Palmer 1989; Bockris 1992; Ennis 1992, 322Ð328; Dallas 1995; Carson 2001;

Dixon and Snowden 1989, 222, 224; Scott Cameron, quoted in Dixon and Snowden 1989, 223.

Oehler 2001, 106Ð108.

Guy, OÕNeal, and Zorn 1970.

Groom 1971, 71Ð74.

OÕNeal 1993.


Evans 1982, 104Ð120.

Rory Block, ÒRory Block Official Life StoryÓ [cited April 22, 2003]; available from http://www.rory-; see also Tipaldi 2002, 165.

B. B. King, quoted in Gordon 2002, 114.

Charlie Musselwhite, quoted in Tipaldi 2002, 62.

Doug MacLeod, quoted in Tipaldi 2002, 269.

Evans 1982, 70Ð76, 262Ð264, 240Ð253.

Hajdu 2001, 94; Tipaldi 2002, 182Ð183.

Oehler 2001, 105Ð106; ÒSpiderÓ John Koerner in University of Illinois Campus Folksong Club 1963;
Zimmerman 1966.
67. Oehler, 2001; see Mac’as 2008, 2003.
. Hajdu 2001, 7Ð9, 18Ð19, 21, 28Ð30, 33, 94; Oehler 2001, 104Ð105; Hammond with Townsend 1977,
154Ð162, 246; Groom 1971, 8Ð11; Titon 1993, 220Ð240; Wald 2000, 92Ð94, 116, 118Ð120, 139Ð140,
142Ð145, 151Ð153, 165Ð166, 177Ð209; Ennis 1992, 414.

(DVD), Warner Brothers Productions, 2004, originally released 1995.

Clarence ÒGatemouthÓ Brown, interview by the author, Bloomington, IN, September 2, 1997; Oehler

Keil 1966.

Wolkin and Keenom 2000.

David Myers, personal conversation with the author, Chicago, IL, 1997.

Wolkin and Keenom 2000, 78.

Ibid., 77Ð78.

Ibid., 77.

Ibid., 83.

Charlie Musselwhite, quoted in Wolkin and Keenom 2000, 85Ð86.

Performing Blues in Transcultural Contexts
CD; Geffen/Universal Music 2000. Digital.
Block, Rory.
. Originally released 1981. Rounder Select/Rounder ROUCD 3061, 1989.

. Various Artists. International Music 203426, 2003. CD.

Blues Masters, Volume 7: Blues Revival
. Rhino Records R2 71128, 1993. CD.
Brown, Clarence ÒGatemouth.Ó
Originally released 1981. Rounder ROUCD 2028, 1991. CD;
Brown, Kenny.
. Originally released 1997. Big Legal Mess Records/Fat Possum BLM
ButterÞ eld, Paul.
eld Band
. Elektra 7294, 1990. CD.
Crudup, Arthur ÒBig BoyÓ.
. Originally recorded September 11, 1941ÐApril 18, 1954.
Tomato TOM
Talking Guitar Blues: The Very Best of . . .
Originally recorded April, 1956ÐDecember,
1965. Castle Music Ltd. CMDDD 1394, 2006. CD; Sanctuary 2011. Digital.
Guy, Buddy.
. Silvertone Records/Legacy 82876 81967 1, 2006. CD.
Hopkins, LightninÕ.
Greatest Hits
. Unequal Halves, 2014. Digital.
The Best of Al Jolson. [20th Century Masters the Millennium Collection.]
MCA Records/Decca 088
Kikuta, Shunsuke, and J. W. Williams.
Live and Kickin’: The 3rd Park Tower Blues Festival
. Bluesox Productions
King, Albert.
The De nitive Albert King
The landscape and potentials of jazz studies have changed markedly over the last forty
years or so, and the projects gathered under that label have gained both depth and
breadth in the process. The work done by a few generations of enthusiasts, scholars,
has thus borne unexpected fruit: where jazz in the mid-1970s seemed
to some commentators to be dying one of several rumored deathsÑwith free jazz and
fusion as the reputed cause
cultural hierarchy with, and gaining the institutional stability of much older incumbents.
York CityÕs Jazz at Lincoln Center is now housed in a $128 million complex overlooking
Columbus Circle, thanks in part to an extensive capital campaign in the late 1990s and
partly to the artistic stewardship and celebrity of Wynton Marsalis. It operates, more-
simply by citing the need to maintain standards derived from European concert music.

As has been true for at least a decade, the latest edition of NASMÕs handbook contains
mostly neutral language regarding its Òthreshold standardsÓ for undergraduates seeking
degrees in musicÑthat is, the skills and repertory knowledge that they all must culti-
vate. Except for particular degree programs (e.g., early music, musical theater, jazz),
there is no mention of any single musical tradition or geographic location that should
receive priority in studentsÕ studies.
Even more striking, the general description of jazz
studies degrees contains an acknowledgment (not, however, repeated elsewhere in the
handbook) that regular study of music in the United States includes jazz.
One further
sign of the now almost banal presence of jazz in higher education is the 2014 edition
magazineÕs ÒWhere to Study JazzÓ special supplement. It listed 207 pro-
of those programs employ well-known jazz performers and recording artists as tenured
or tenure-track faculty.

Almost certainly, the high educational proÞ le of jazz is the product of the dedicated
work of jazz educators, before and after the founding of the National Association of
In addition, though, the change has been underwritten by
the increasingly positive presence of research-oriented jazz studies in the academyÑ
in literature, African American studies, American studies, sociology, history, Þ
lm, and
anthropology departmentsÑfrom the 1980s forward. The institutional locations of
scholars conducting such studies outside music schools and departments is key. Although
the Austrian journal
had been published continuously starting in 1969
Journal of Jazz Studies
(renamed the
in 1982)
dated back to 1973, the watershed moment in the development of academic jazz studies
in the United States was arguably the publication in 1991 of ÒThe Literature of Jazz,Ó
Black American Literature Forum
(BALF). The issueÕs topics ranged
Travis A. Jackson
identifying key Þ gures and constructing a coherent, teleological narrative, one that func-
tioned in DeVeauxÕs words as
a pedigree, showing contemporary jazz to be not a fad or a mere popular music, subject to the whims of
fashion, but an autonomous art of some substance, the culmination of a long process of maturation that
has in its own way recapitulated the evolutionary progress of Western art.

In the resultant histories, then, a parade of increasingly complex musical styles helped to
ne jazz as an instrumental music that transcended its origins in African American cul-
ture and the entertainment industry to become ÒAmericaÕs classical musicÓ or the nationÕs
greatest contribution to the arts.
As is perhaps true of any narrative, for the story of jazz
thus presented to have the power it did (and does), its crafters had to elide or omit some
elements crucial to the taleÕs unfolding and also relegate some ÒcharactersÓ to minor roles
dynamics. Of the thirteen iterations of the tuneÕs structural template, in fact, only one
Travis A. Jackson
hear Miles, Shorter, and Hancock solo here, but ÒNefertitiÓ is an important selection. Its unhurried,
languorous, almost hypnotic quality, caused partly by the use of rests and long tones, forecast a style of
composition later employed not only by Shorter but by Joe Zawinul.

Less narrowly focused listeners might have heard in ÒNefertitiÓ the contemporary
foregrounding of what was only slightly more subtle in other recordings and per-
in 2004, differing commentators have used it to describe
gathered in Reginald T. Buckner and Steven WeilandÕs
and Krin GabbardÕs
Representing Jazz
Nichole T. Rustin and
Sherrie Tucker have described researchers in the ÒoldÓ jazz studies paradigm as Òbeing
very conservative about who and what is included,Ó as comprising Òoften-closed circles of
discourse about jazz and its history,Ó and as being particularly hostile toward questions of
gender and sexuality. In contrast, those undertaking newer, Òcultural studies of jazzÓ take
a critical approach to narrative parades of individual geniuses, and . . . [are] less interested in producing
grand narratives. . . . [M]any of the turns in ÒNew Jazz StudiesÓ indicate a moment when Ògender and
jazzÓ scholars are no longer perceived as representing a Òspecial interestÓ subcategory of jazz studies,
In this view, the old jazz studies bore a striking resemblance to the pre-1980s great-
man- and great-work-centered ÒoldÓ musicology, deaf and blind as it was (so its critics
maintained) to anything beyond the Òmusic itself,Ó while its successor ostensibly brought
with it greater concern for contexts, for commerce, for agency, for conß
ictÑin short
everything that an obsession with teleology and coherence had allegedly occluded or
obliterated. At the same time, however, the new jazz studies diverged from its new musi-
cological counterpart, replacing the latterÕs music-analytic conservatism with what one
Travis A. Jackson
in, able to respond to, or aware of what they are purportedly listening to. Time and again
making (or not making) careers for themselves. Along similar lines, Horace TapscottÕs
Point from which Creation Begins
Steven L. IsoardiÕs
The Dark Tree
(2006), and George E. LewisÕs
Travis A. Jackson
simply in terms of what individual researchers value and, relatedly, what they believe their
rents on the viability of venues and overlooking RibotÕs almost cursory invocation of race
and class issues: ÒThe specter of gentriÞ cation has haunted the Lower East Side for a long
time, so long, in fact, that the current situation should not be surprising to anyone who
lives there and who has some sense of the areaÕs history. In its most recent transformation,
Travis A. Jackson
Among the many things listeners might have gleaned from the interviews are those con-
cerning how musicians understand tradition and creativity, how deeply and critically they
think about the worlds through which they move and how, musically and otherwise, they
attempt to alter those worlds. Although many of the interviews appeared in published
form in 1992 and 1995 as
Talking Jazz
programs during their original run had the opportunity to hear them as part of a 24-
away, but the core of the jazz experience may in fact be going away. And I think one of the things that is
captured in these conversations is the kind of thoughts, the kind of life, the kind of emotions, the kind of
questions, the kind of people that, back when nobody really cared about it, they cared everything about
it. ThatÕs what they cared about.
Arguably, SidranÕs references to geography and kinds of people might be read as euphe-
mistic or veiled mentions of race, but in an interview in which the pianist is forthcoming
about his dislike of recording technology and the recording industry, among other things,
one wonders why he would decline to discuss race more directly.
In some ways, his interviews, as well as those that were combined with performance
in the late Marian McPartlandÕs long-running National Public Radio program
recall the issues raised by Douglas Henry Daniels in an essay on interviews as historical
in the Sidran and McPartland programsÑand perhaps more pointedly in the interview
collections published by Gene LeesÑis not so much a failure to see behind the veil, then,
as it is a will to remain ignorant of the veil or deny its existence, in the process perhaps
unwittingly reproducing a racial order that renders the privileges and workings of White-

Travis A. Jackson
Exemplary in this regard is George E. LewisÕs discussion of the workings and dissolution
of Jazz Composers Guild in mid-1960s New York. His account juxtaposes the divergent
Force on the Undergraduate Music Major, which was made publicly available in November 2014 (see
Travis A. Jackson

Ogren 1996, 263.

antiracist, anti-imperialist. Its intervention has been in those substantial, specified senses political. But
it is romantic to go on thinking of cultural studies as an Ôintervention.Õ It is now an instituted academic
activity, and academic activity, whatever its intrinsic merits, is inevitably not the same thing as a political
projectÓ (Mulhern 1995, 34Ð35).

MacDonald, Wilson, and Miell 2012, 244Ð247; see also Attali 1985 (1977), 133Ð136. Indeed, many of
the contributions to the online journal

read as continuations of the theory-driven early new jazz studies work rather than critical engagement with
personal ideology plays in researchersÕ choice of subject matter. That is, it is likely not a coincidence that
the most utopian theorizing about the potentials of improvisation occurs alongside supposedly less rule-
governed ÒfreeÓ improvisation, just as the some of the most rigidly conservative theorizing about musical
composer John Zorn expressed the belief that he too was addressing a pressing and perennial need in 2000
in introducing the collection
. Although he shares the same kind of Romantic/Adornian perspective
as the producers of the old jazz studies, he saw himself as not surrendering to the generic/stylistic labeling
Travis A. Jackson
. Originally recorded June 7, 1967ÐJuly 19, 1967. Originally released as Columbia CS
9594, 1967. Sony BMG Music Entertainment A736670, 2008. CD.
Morgan, Lee.
. Originally recorded December 21, 1963. Originally released as Blue Note BLP
Sidran, Ben.
Talking Jazz.
When we sang for black people, they called it rhythm and blues. When we sang the same song
ÑBo Diddley

In the late-1970s, and as a scholar of postÐWorld War II African American
I quickly became aware of the limited number of treatises and commentaries published
on this topic and its disproportionate representation in studies on the broader American
popular music tradition. Moreover, I became intrigued and concerned that many critics
of African American and American popular music ignored or omitted the voices of the
musicÕs creators.
Portia K. Maultsby
contrast to the coverage of rhythm and blues artists by Black publications such as
Feature stories derive from the personal and musical
histories recounted by artists and critiques of recordings and live performances before
African American audiences. The photographs that accompany the narratives demonstrate
how these audiences engage with performances, revealing the meaning and signiÞ
BrownÕs live performances embody a myriad of cultural codes and musical values
ned and afÞ rmed within the context of his African American fan base. Music critic
Portia K. Maultsby
James BrownÕs culturally-informed signature sound resulted in seventy-seven Federal/
King recordings making the
ÒTop Singles R&BÓ charts, fourteen of which
reached the #1 position, while thirty-eight placed in the top ten. This level of success over
thirteen years supports the claim that BrownÕs recordings held signiÞ
base, which was overwhelmingly African American. SpeciÞ
cally, his stage performances
and the live character of his studio recordings preserve stylistic features that historically
have resonated with African American audiences, and have also distinguished various
musics within the historical and contemporary African diaspora.
In rather graphic contrast to BrownÕs success on the R&B charts, only thirteen of
BrownÕs recordings qualiÞ ed for Top 20 position on
ÒPopÓ charts, and all of
these landed at the bottom of this category.
These industry measures suggest that the
pop music industry and its primary consumers, who were White, found BrownÕs music
to be far less appealing than the largely Black audiences who identiÞ
ed with rhythm and
blues music. To make it plain and simple, James Brown was never considered to be a
crossover artist.
Recording for the small, independent King Records from 1958 to 1971, Brown
enjoyed considerable creative freedom. This arrangement eventually changed after he
signed with the German label Polydor in 1971, three years after Linn Broadcasting bought
King Records as a subsidiary label. Brown explains:
In the early years [beginning in 1971] with them I was hitting the singles in spite of the company. The
songs were hits because I
forced them
[emphasis mine] through the company and made them hits myself. I
was supposed to have creative control, but they started remixing my records. I mixed them, but when they
came out they didnÕt sound like what IÕd mixed. The company didnÕt want the funk in there too heavy.
TheyÕd take the feeling out of the record. They didnÕt want James Brown to be raw. Eventually [around
1979] they destroyed my sound. . . . In destroying my sound, Polydor cost me my audience.
They tried to take me over into disco by bringing in a producer, Brad Shapiro. I was against it from
the first. Disco had no groove, it had no sophistication, it had nothing. I fought against doing it but
(1979). It wasnÕt disco all the way, but I
was unhappy with the result.

Portia K. Maultsby
The issue of race in Black music scholarship has been a topic of discussion since the turn
Park JamŽ held in the playground of Patterson Houses Project, 3rd Avenue and 143rd
Portia K. Maultsby
executives, however, quickly recognized the potential of African American music as an
economic commodity for appropriation and exploitation for mainstream consumption.
White artists covered the songs performed and recorded by Black artists, imitated their
nancially cashed in on the mainstream popularity of their music. Critiquing
this imbalance of power and the hegemonic control over the commodiÞ
cation process,
popular music historian Reebee Garofalo writes: ÒTheir [African AmericansÕ] cultural
contributions have been historically undervalued and/or assigned to others less deserv-
ing, and they have had to overcome systematic discrimination within the music industry
The most popular and accepted history on the early years of rock and roll is one
Both popular and scholarly works credit Cleveland disc jockey Alan Freed as having
coined the phrase Òrock ÕnÕ roll.Ó This phrase, as most scholars of popular music concur,
rst was used in blues songs decades before the Þ rst commercial recordings of this music.
In 1947, Wild Bill Moore used the phrase as the title of his hit rhythm and blues record-
ing, ÒWeÕre Gonna Rock, WeÕre Gonna Roll.Ó Freed appropriated this phrase from Black
culture, using it to describe the music played on his radio program ÒMoondog Rock ÕnÕ
Roll Party.Ó Air-check tapes of his broadcast on WJW in Cleveland from 1952 through
March 1954 reveal that the name ÒMoondog Rock ÕnÕ Roll PartyÓ referred only to the
name of the program rather than the songs he played:

All right, the old Moondog is leaping out, folks. The old Moondog Rock ÕnÕ Roll Party on Tuesday night
described the music as Òan inciter of juvenile delinquency,Ó industry executives repack-
aged and relabeled R&B as Òrock ÕnÕ roll,Ó effectively obfuscating the racial identity of its

In 1955 Freed relented to public pressure to rename rhythm and blues, referenc-
ing it instead as rock ÕnÕ roll. He eventually became famous as the Þ
rst rock ÕnÕ roll disc
jockey. His repeated use of the phrase Òrock ÕnÕ rollÓ as a substitute for Ò
records on his radio, and later television shows and Hollywood Þ lms, corroborated the
industryÕs relabeling and repackaging of Black music for the consumption of White teen-
agers. The following excerpt from FreedÕs air-check tape in 1955 at WINS illustrates the
erasure of the rhythm and blues label from mainstream media.
Yours truly Alan Freed the old King of the Rock and Roller. Still to come but all ready for another big
night of rockinÕ and rollinÕ.
Portia K. Maultsby
newspapers, ranging from the well-established, such as the
Washington Post
New York
, to burgeoning publications that included
Village Voice

(1967). Their coverage of Black rock and roll
artists included biographical and anecdotal information, critiques of live and/or recorded
performances, song lyrics, musical skills, and inß
uences on White artists. As expected,
the reviews were subjective and some peppered with stereotypical characterizations. For
example, British music journalist Nik Cohn describes Little RichardÕs songs as Òtuneless,
lyricless, pre-neanderthal.Ó He characterizes the performance: ÒThere was a tenor sax solo
in the middle somewhere and a constant smashed-up piano and Little Richard himself was
screaming his head off.Ó
Similarly, Guralnick describes Little RichardÕs musical features as
Òoutlandish screams and Ôjungle rhythms.Õ Ó In contrast, he characterizes the style of Jerry
Lee Lewis, Little RichardÕs imitator as: Òvocal gymnastics and theatrical virtuosity.Ó
ratives such as these were widely circulated and eventually became the primary and master
ÒtextÓ for ensuing histories on rock and roll or popular music in the United States. With few
these histories have been repeated without scholarly critique.
Songwriter and music publishing executive Arnold Shaw brought attention to this
issue in the late 1970s. In the introduction to his book
Years of Rhythm and Blues
(1978), he wrote:
The fact is that in its beginnings rock ÕnÕ roll was derivative rhythm and bluesÑand todayÕs mainstream . . .
(artists and repertoire) for RCA Victor, to sign him to the label. He told pop music his-
Portia K. Maultsby
signature rhythmic pattern called the Òchoo-choo beat.Ó Charles Connor, Little RichardÕs
original drummer explains:
prevailed in jazz since its early years, as critic and record producer John Hammond asserts
Already American jazz was attracting far more critical and public acclaim in England than in the United
States, and anyone who could write jazz news, particularly of Negro players, was in demand. The English
public drew no color line in music. Because Americans often did, few American jazz writers had even been
to Harlem or knew enough about black players to be effective correspondents. I had and did, and for this
reason I had been hired by
[in 1931].

also hired Hammond for the same reason. Ham-
mond recalls: ÒThe magazine . . . was dissatisÞ
ed with its former American reporter
because he wrote only about white musicians.Ó
The failure to acknowledge those art-
ists and recordings that impelled White involvement in the jazz scene created a proÞ
le of
jazz that minimized the signiÞ cance of Black innovation, inspiration, and inß uence. As a
consequence the narrative of White dominance and supremacy in the media and music
industry became institutionalized.
Furthermore, because White critics tended to engage African American jazz bands
either through recordings or in contexts where the audiences were predominantly White,
Portia K. Maultsby
magazine, changed the name for its charts from ÒBlack MusicÓ to R&B. Accompanying
[I]t is becoming less acceptable to identify music in racial terms. [Furthermore] R&B as a label is less likely
and afÞ rmed among African Americans.
The complex history of African American popular music is best understood against
the backdrop of the social and cultural contexts for origin and its appropriation by the
music industry and dominant mainstream. Rather than simply repeating the master nar-
rative of the past, an approach that engages those voices and other resources from within
the culture, such as African American publications and the music industry entities involved
Portia K. Maultsby

of African American Music and Culture, Indiana University, Bloomington, and, accessed
January 9, 2016,Ð1959/brooklyn-

In conjunction with FreedÕs two-and-a-half-hour evening radio show, he staged live shows billed as the
ÒMoondog Coronation BallÓ and the ÒBiggest Rhythm and Blues Show.Ó Photographs of this ball from
May 3, 1952 (reportedly attended by 20,000 people) reveal that the audience was predominately African
American, suggesting that this group made up the core of his listeners at the time. See photographs on
FreedÕs ÒofficialÓ website,, accessed January 9, 2016,


This is transcribed from FreedÕs broadcast on WINS in New York of a program labeled ÒPart I.Ó Audio:
WINSÑ1955,, accessed January 9, 2016,

ÒLittle Richard with Bill Boggs,Ó
, accessed January 9, 2016,
watch?v=B2CqEzy3iv4. In an interview with the author, Charles Connor, Little RichardÕs original drum-
mer, describes rock and roll as Òrhythm and blues played with a fast beatÓ (Charles Connor, interview by
Portia K. Maultsby, Los Angeles, CA, November 10, 1990).

Louis Jordan quoted in Shaw 1978, 73.

Ibid., 43.

Quoted in Shaw 1978, 64.

Ibid., 73.

They include Eisen 1969; Cohn 1969; Williams 1969; Christgau 1973; Marcus 2015 (1975).

Cohn 1969, 22.

Guralnick 1971, 18.

For example, see Garofalo and Waksman 2014.

Shaw 1978, xv.

The Story of Gospel
The History
. It was released in 1996 and aired in 1997.

Portia K. Maultsby

Popular culture author Marc Eliot (1989, 61) reports that the music publishers Hill and Range instructed
their songwriters Òto create music [for Presley] that would appeal to a wider pop audience, rather than
strictly country or rockability.Ó He continues, noting that PresleyÕs pop idols Frank Sinatra and Dean Mar-
sic ] Ray, a pop sensation in the early 1950s, whose
one knee crooning soon became a part of the standard Presley presentationÓ (63). Ironically Johnnie Ray,

Rose 1994, 83.

Hammond 1981 (1977), 60.

Ibid., 63.

Quoted in Hammond 1981 (1977), 173Ð174.

For example, PresleyÕs biography on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website opens with the following
two lines: ÒElvis Presley is the undisputed King of Rock and Roll. He rose from humble circumstances to
launch the rock and roll revolution with his commanding voice and charismatic stage presenceÓ (ÒElvis
Presley Biography, Also see Starr and Waterman

Adopts ÔR&BÕ as New Name for 2 Charts,Ó 1990, 6, 35.

Omi and Winant 2015, 162

Cho 2009, 1593.

Contemporary sources that offer counter narratives include: Mahon 2000, 2004; Altschuler 2003; Tate
2003a, 2003b; Lydon 2004; Phinney 2005; Coleman 2006; Pecknold 2013.

Cruz 1999, 36Ð37.
Berry, Chuck.
The Great Twenty-Eight
. Originally released 1982. MCA 92500, 1993. CD.
Washington Sunday Star
age to Duke Ellington on His BirthdayÓ in which he made this astute observation:
Even though few recognized it, such artists as Ellington and Louis Armstrong were the stewards of our
vaunted American optimism and guardians against the creeping irrationality which ever plagues our form
Negotiating Blackness in Western Art Music
nd EllisonÕs statement an insightful exposition of the multiple functions African
American music plays in American culture. It serves simultaneously to express the per-
spective of an outsider who, although present, is not recognizedÑ
Olly Wilson
A conception of music based on the principle of rhythmic contrast;
The predilection for antiphonal and cyclical musical structures;
The propensity to produce percussive, stratified musical textures;
Negotiating Blackness in Western Art Music
for (what may have appeared to them to be) the African exilesÕ exotic musical practices
and exceptional musical abilities would explain why Blacks were encouraged to perform
as well as learn European instruments and
perform European music for the entertainment of Whites. The iconographical evidence of
this practice is very strong, and the practice of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Blacks,
both slave and freedmen, performing European music for Whites is well documented.

Moreover, the presence of African Americans as drummers and Þ
fers in the American Revo-
lutionary Army also attests to the importance of African American music and musicians.
Finally, scholars of the Colonial era have also documented the presence of African Americans
as music tutors and music masters, particularly in the New England colonies.

Given this situation, it is clear that some African American musicians had already
gained a working knowledge of European musical practices before the establishment of
the United States as a nation and were poised to explore the realm of composition from
a European perspective with its focus on the written music manuscript. However, these
composers brought their own indigenous cultural proclivities with them as they began to
create new music in the written tradition with a decidedly African American character in
Olly Wilson
It is important to understand this process as an adaptation of African American tradi-
tional concepts redesigned to accommodate new conditions. The performance traditions
of ragtime existed before Scott Joplin and his contemporaries wrote this music down.
Western notation obviously had an impact on JoplinÕs compositional thought and inß
Negotiating Blackness in Western Art Music
sang it; and Boston critic Hiram Motherwell commented that ÒDeep RiverÓ had Òjustly brought [Bur-
leigh] into prominence which he has long deserved.Ó Burleigh issued twelve spirituals for solo voice in
1917 and twenty more in the following Þ ve years, in addition to a number of critically acclaimed secular
art songs.

What made this and BurleighÕs other arrangements of spirituals such as ÒMy Lord What a
Morning,Ó ÒWere You There,Ó and ÒBy anÕ ByÓ special was his ability as a composerÐarranger
in the performance of the song, a practice idiomatic within traditional performances. Sec-
ond, the accompaniment often serves as a second voice that establishes an antiphonal or
call-and-response relationship with the soloist, often Þ
lling in the gaps at the ends of phrases
with appropriate countermelodies, as is often the case in communal vernacular spirituals.
These accompaniment countermelodies and occasional interjections often contain idiomatic
extended syncopated rhythmic patterns characteristic of the religious style, while usually
eschewing the rhythmic ostinato techniques commonly associated with secular genres.
Third, the choice of harmonies is guided by the use of chords that appropriately sup-
port the modal implications of the original spirituals. Chromaticism is used primarily in
the service of the overreaching diatonic harmonic implications, or as a color device or
melodic overlay (usually a descending chromatic scale fragment), rather than as a struc-
tural element; harmonic rhythm, in general, tends to be slow. Functional harmony tends
to be clearly directed toward dominant-tonic and subdominant-tonic polarities. BurleighÕs
most refreshing harmonic choices work, even the chromatic ones, because they adhere to
the modal implications of the melodic line while implying new relationships to the tonic
center, often a third above or below the original tonic. Burleigh also carefully explores
Olly Wilson
indistinguishable in general musical style from works written by their nonÐAfrican Ameri-
Their composers were conversant with the various schools of compositional thought of
their generation, and their work reß
ects this knowledge to the degree that it was relevant
to the composersÕ creative conception.
On the other hand, there are compositions that contain musical qualities that are
clearly derived from traditional African American musical practices. The nature of those
cantly. They reß ect a continuum from the foreground-level usage
of musical events that range from direct quotes from, or newly composed material in
the style of traditional folk forms, to more subtle referents that are abstractions and/or
Negotiating Blackness in Western Art Music
and orchestra, written in 1974. In this work, I attempted to explore in one composition
the historical development of the African American spiritual. SpeciÞ cally, the composition
explored the transition from the religious wordless moans, chants, and hollers that pre-
ceded the spiritual proper to the historical moment when the English text was associated
with these vocal utterances and this music became the genre known as the spiritual.
The Þ rst movement of
is a procession of the choir to the stage in which
the main chorus sings modal, chant-like music exclusively. It explores sound locomo-
cation of selected instruments, an offstage womenÕs chorus, and
the procession to achieve movement of sound in a speciÞ c space. The second movement
represents the emergence of the spiritual proper and features a soprano soloist who begins
the movement with a wordless chant (
Figure 4.1 ) before gradually beginning to use the
English text, ultimately singing the refrain, ÒOh Lord, keep me from sinking down.Ó
In the opening of this movement, I wanted to capture the expressive quality of the tra-
ditional religious moan or chant. The use of a wide range of vocal nuances common to
this tradition was an integral part of my initial conception of the piece. I attempted to
achieve this quality by having the soprano change tone colors (timbres) while maintain-
ing the same pitch, while simultaneously having the entire orchestra gradually change
timbres and function as both accompaniment to, and commentary on, the soprano solo
line. Because the orchestra begins on the same pitch at an extremely soft dynamic level,
it creates the illusion that the orchestra emerges from the soprano solo. In addition, I use
womenÕs voices as part of this timbral mix. The orchestration is my own adaptation of late
Courtesy Olly Wilson.
Courtesy Olly Wilson.
Olly Wilson

The texture of the orchestral statement of this idea is clearly inß uenced by concepts
characteristic of the African American tradition. The low strings and horns state the persis-
tent, but constantly shifting, principal rhythmic pattern, while the percussion, trombones,
Negotiating Blackness in Western Art Music

Southern 1997, 52Ð58.

Epstein 1977.

Southern 1997, 3Ð52, 63Ð71. For an excellent annotated bibliography on African American music from
the ColonialÐFederalist Era (1600Ð1800) and the Antebellum Era (1800Ð1862), see Southern and Wright

Quoted in Southern 1997, 107.


American music shaped the composerÕs works. Attention is given to this issue in Eileen SouthernÕs (1997)
work on Francis Johnson, A.J.R. Connor, and others; Linda Rae Brown 1990; Oja 1992; Floyd 1995; and

Snyder 1993, 137.
Burleigh, Harry T.
Deep River: Songs and Spirituals of Harry T. Burleigh
. With Oral Moses, baritone, and Ann

Kaleidoscope: Music by African-American Women
Mass Mediation
Crossing Musical Borders
Agency and Process in the Gospel Music Industry
Mellonee V. Burnim
The literature and Þ lm on African American gospel music frequently explore the motiva-
tion of performers in the Þ eld who sever their overt gospel ties and succumb to the lure of
cal switch is that of the man credited as father of gospel music, Thomas Dorsey. Previously
known in the blues world as ÒGeorgia TomÓ and ÒBarrelhouse Tom,Ó DorseyÕs collabora-
tion with guitarist Tampa Red (Hudson Whitaker) in 1928 resulted in his most famous
double entendre hokum hit, ÒItÕs Tight Like That.Ó DorseyÕs decision to pursue a career
in gospel music was prompted, in part, by a series of personal tragedies, among them the
deaths of his wife and newborn son.
Paradoxically, although none of these men contin-
turnaround, it is profoundly instructive that none of them ever renounced the music of
his past as a religious pariah.
Mellonee V. Burnim
Although many African Americans are both passionate and unwavering in their sup-
port or condemnation of such musical border crossings, the depth and complexity of the
factors that inform these choices are rarely examined. Furthermore, these contested views
of crossover in the domain of gospel music consistently fail to assess the role of the music
Crossing Musical Borders
director for an Oakland music distributor, who was also a fan of gospel music. LingelÕs
enthusiasm for the recording led to the eventual airing of ÒOh Happy DayÓ on under-
ground radio station SKAN-FM in San Francisco. Lingel sensed that ÒOh Happy DayÓ
was hit material, which proved to be true; the morning following its initial airplay on
SKAN, the record distributor had orders for 1,300 copies of the single.

magazine as Òthe most requested tune on every rock station in L.A.Ó
Top 10 in San Francisco, and radio stations coast to coast gave it airplay as well. The
unprecedented appeal of ÒOh Happy DayÓ was difÞ
cult to pinpoint. Various critiques
suggested that its rhythmic drive was its most compelling feature, as Thomas Dorsey,
Take ÒO Happy DayÓ [
]. IÕve sung that song since I was a boy and nobody paid very much attention
to it, but then Hawkins comes along. I guess he was inspired from on high, and he put beat into it. Not
only beat, but the curves, the rhythmic curves, and the harmony. It creates a new style in gospel music,
and I think he did a wonderful job.

Mellonee V. Burnim
For the hit of the 1990s, the geographical locale shifted from the West Coast to the
Southwest. Like Edwin Hawkins, the composerÐarranger devoted exclusively to gospel
music who produced the second major crossover in the genre was quite youngÑin his
twenties. But this 1993 release by Kirk Franklin of Fort Worth, TX, called
, was no amateur recording that accidentally received secular radio airplay.
Unlike Hawkins, who had no record contract, promoter, or manager, the album
was one of the Þ rst products of the Black, female-owned Gospo-
Centric label, formed in 1993, the same year as FranklinÕs debut.

Vicki Mack Lataillade, founder of GospoCentric, had worked Þ
ve years at Sparrow
Crossing Musical Borders
message of his music was being lost via translation to secular contexts and transcultural
Mellonee V. Burnim
and as a gospel singer has always been to reach as many people as possible with the mes-
sage of Jesus, regardless of race, gender, demographic or socioeconomic status.Ó

Lataillade notes that FranklinÕs music was Òstraight up gospel. If thereÕs an R&B ß
vor, itÕs him.Ó
LatailladeÕs assessment references the fact that industry efforts to generate
crossover success have often pressured artists to minimize their overt references to God
while maximizing their identiÞ cation with current secular soundscapes. In a 1972 inter-
view, Hawkins comments:
Some of the things we did were gospel in the traditional sense. Of course, the name of Jesus was men-
hinder things. . . . I knew where I stood and I didnÕt want to jeopardize my beliefsÑor sacriÞ ce my beliefs
to make the commercial world happy. I think that gospel music . . . must be appreciated as it isÑjust like
Crossing Musical Borders
did not read and write music in Western notation. It is therefore unlikely that Hawkins
had been introduced to MorrisÕs arrangement by reviewing his musical score. It is conceiv-
able, however, that Hawkins heard the Morris arrangement performed live and absorbed
it as his own. This practice is still commonplace in gospel music circles. Given the fact
that the album that included ÒOh Happy DayÓ was originally directed toward a limited
Mellonee V. Burnim
Crossing Musical Borders
commitment to the project were critical variables in implementing a promotional effort
that maximized on the musicÕs broad appeal.
Mellonee V. Burnim
Crossing Musical Borders
Cusic 1990, 229.
Ibid., 220.
Ibid., 215.
Darden 1994, 35.
Cusic 1990, 216.
Reagon 1992b, 333.
Cusic 1990, 218.
Franklin, with Black 1998, 153Ð155.
Interview by the author with Albertina Walker, 1994.
ÒBostic Urges Gospel Folk to Be MilitantÓ 1975, 1.
Goreau 1975, 178.
Ibid., 229.
Industrializing African American
Reebee Garofalo
It is, by now, common knowledge that African Americans have provided the most sig-
cant cultural inputs in the development of American music. African Americans have
created, innovated, performed, and otherwise participated in the process of music-making
since the United States was a colony. Their cultural contributions have been historically
undervalued and/or assigned to others less deserving, and they have had to overcome
systematic discrimination within the music industry itself. Still the music remains as vital
and pathbreaking as ever.
The modern music industry resulted from the gradual convergence of two quite sepa-
Ragtime developed alongside other forms of African American music such as jazz and
the blues, which were improvisational in nature: derived more from the oral tradition of
African music than the notated (written) tradition of European music. Because US copy-
right laws were framed in terms of melody, chord patterns, and lyricsÑclearly elements of
a written traditionÑit was more difÞ cult for certain forms of African American music to
be deÞ ned and defended as intellectual property.
Accordingly, African Americans were poorly represented in the music publishing busi-
Reebee Garofalo
Castle. Europe was a talented and highly trained composer who could hold his own with
any writers and arrangers of the era. He also had a talent for organization; his Clef Club
and later Tempo Club organizations, which assembled bands for hire, as well as the Black
and Puerto Rican 369th Infantry Regiment Hell Fighters Band that he organized for the
US Army with his partner Noble Sissle, proved to be quite successful. Particularly through
the dances popularized by the Castles, such as the Fox Trot and the Turkey Trot, Europe
introduced syncopated dance music to the mainstream audience.
It wasnÕt until 1920, and quite by accident, that the recording industry began to take
recording African Americans seriously. When an OKeh session featuring Sophie Tucker
was canceled, the enterprising Black producer/songwriter Perry Bradford convinced the
record company to allow him to record a Black contralto named Mamie Smith. Her
RaceŽ record advertisement for Bessie Smiths Hateful Blues,Ž July 19, 1924.
recording of BradfordÕs ÒCrazy BluesÓ went on to sell 7,500 copies a week and opened up a
Reebee Garofalo
City. Harry Pace, W. C. HandyÕs publishing partner, started Black Swan in 1921. Mayo
ÒInkÓ Williams, head of ParamountÕs race series, founded Black Patti in 1927. These com-
These patterns of racial segregation tended to obscure the origins of musical devel-
opments such as jazz, and Tin Pan Alley did little to correct the errors. To the average
Reebee Garofalo
major companies; and it paved the way for eccentric DJs to become important taste mak-
ers. Because most of its formative inß
uences as well as virtually all of its early innovators
were African American, rock ÕnÕ roll encouraged a tilt toward African American sensibili-
and public taste. It upended, however momentarily, the separation of races (and classes)
that had guided not just the operations of the music industry but the dynamics of all social
The powers that be responded with a number of strategies. Major labels engaged in
a certain amount of talent buying, and began issuing ÒcoverÓ records (pop versions of
original R&B and rock ÕnÕ roll recordings), which, owing to the superior distribution
channels of the majors, often outsold the originals. Because DJs were considered largely
ment provided a climate that encouraged these and other developments.
Chubby Checker ushered in the decade with ÒThe Twist,Ó which hit #1 on the
pop charts twice, once in 1960 and then again in 1962. The Twist craze was powerful
enough to force other African American artists like Sam Cooke, Gary ÒUSÓ Bonds, Ray
Reebee Garofalo
RockÓ (1962). Relative unknowns Little Eva and Dee Dee Sharp had hits with two Twist
spin-offs, ÒThe Loco-MotionÓ (1962) and ÒMashed Potato TimeÓ (1962), respectively.
The place where most fans learned to perform these dances was
a Philadelphia-based televised dance party hosted by Dick Clark that was picked up for
White teenagers from Philadelphia, it was also a major showcase for Black talent. As Clark
has pointed out, Òover two-thirds of the people whoÕve been initiated into the Rock and

Producers like Luther Dixon, Phil Spector, and Berry Gordy drew on the pioneering
Reebee Garofalo
Harvard Report prompted new opportunities for Black artists to jump ship and sign with
major labels; it also made numerous recommendations to fund Black business and cre-
ate internal staff positions in places where previously there had been none, as the majors
sought to institutionalize the process of crossing over. With some notable successesÑPIR
certainly comes to mindÑthe majors ignored or mishandled these recommendations
more often than not.
One of the many recommendations that Columbia did not follow was to use its clout
to enhance the distribution of the syndicated television dance party
Soul Train
child of writer, producer, and host Don Cornelius,
Soul Train
ve days a week, Black variation of
later it went into national syndication out of Los Angeles on Saturday mornings.
followed the time-tested formula of live dancing that made

a must watch telecast and quickly attracted the top names in R&B. Jerry Butler, the
Chi-Lites, and the Emotions appeared on the very Þ
rst show. Over the years the program
Crocker on New YorkÕs WBLS being a notable exception). As a result, disco established
itself as its own sub-industry, receiving its primary exposure in clubs, popularized only
by the creative genius of club DJs. Because they were shunned by the record companies,
Reebee Garofalo
of You,Ó 1984), James Ingram and Kenny Rogers (ÒWhat about Me,Ó 1984), Dionne
Warwick and Friends (ÒThatÕs What Friends Are For,Ó 1985), Patti LaBelle and Michael
Reebee Garofalo
The majors were smart
enough to leave rapÕs creative functions in the hands of the independents, offering them
Black to White personnel. This was particularly ironic in that during this period, hip hop
Reebee Garofalo
eliminated the Pop 100 chart. It was clear that the importance of African American aes-
Because a label deal is now only one of a number of options available to artists, manage-
ment companiesÑindeed, artists themselvesÑhave become as central to the task of career
development as record companies once were.
Reebee Garofalo
Garofalo 2011, 78.
Hunter Hancock was in Los Angeles, Willie Mays in San Francisco, George Oxford in Oakland, and Phil
McKernan in Berkeley. Big Bill Hill and Delta bluesman Muddy Waters held forth on WOPA in Chicago,
where Al Benson, ÒYoÕ OlÕ Swingmaster,Ó was the premier R&B DJ. In the Northeast, George ÒHound
DogÓ Lorenz was in Buffalo and Danny ÒCat ManÓ Stiles was in Newark. New York was the center for
R&B radio in the Northeast, where Willie Bryant, Òthe Mayor of Harlem,Ó and Ray Carroll broadcast
on WHOM. Jack Walker, Òthe Pear-Shaped Talker,Ó appeared on foreign-language
Chubby Checker.
The Very Best of Chubby Checker
. ABKCO Records 88972, 2012. CD.
Count Basie Orchestra.
Mustermesse Basel 1956 Part 2
. TCB 02202, 2008. CD.
Crudup, Arthur ÒBig BoyÓ.
The Best of Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup
. Roslin Records, 2010. Digital.

nitive Collection of R&B Hits From 1948
. Various Artists. Bofm Ltd, 2009. Digital.
Duke Ellington.
. Columbia/Sony Music 88697492062, 2009. CD.
Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra.
. Originally recorded November 25, 1946Ñ
December 18, 1946. Discovery 70052, 1993. CD.
Fats Domino.
The Fat Man: 25 Classic Performances
. EMI 7243 8 52326 2 6, 1996. CD.
It happened in a white two-story house located at 2648 W. Grand Boulevard in the ÒMotor
Before Motown, the music industry had no history of a Black-owned company seri-
Charles E. Sykes
work, family unity, and economic prudence helped the Gordys and their eight children
record, but it certainly has historical signiÞ cance in that it post-dates ÒCome to Me,Ó the
Marv Johnson recording that launched BerryÕs Tamla label, the Þ
rst label to become part
of Motown Record Corporation.

With an $800 loan through the familyÕs credit union, Ber-Berry Co-op, Berry became
owner of his new Tamla label in 1959. Always one to draw from what people can relate to,
he wanted to name his label ÒTammy,Ó the title of a #1 hit recorded by Debbie Reynolds
in 1957. Since Tammy Records already had registered the label name, Berry modiÞ
ed the
name to Tamla.
LabelYears ActiveType
Sample Artists
Charles E. Sykes
London-based Tamla-Motown label, which was established in 1965 to solidify MotownÕs
Charles E. Sykes
KleinÕs, the Blue Bird, the West End, the Flame, and many other clubs. Berry Gordy
TemptationsÕ Otis Williams (Figure 7.1) and whose choreographer, Cholly Atkins, would
eventually groom Motown acts for the stage.

While Ed McKenzie, Robin Seymour, Mickey Shorr, and other White DJs included
R&B as part of eclectic playlists, WJLB aired all R&B shows with Black DJs LeRoy White,
Bristoe Bryant, and Ernie Durham, one of the Þ
Charles E. Sykes

The brochureÕs cover shows a cartoon-like image of an orchestra conductor with long,
straight hair, dressed in tie and tails, smiling and posed as if introducing the title, ÒThis Is
Motown Record Corporation.Ó The text inside boasts that Motown is Òone of AmericaÕs
leading independent recording companiesÓ and Òa versatile, highly successful producer
Charles E. Sykes
Lincoln-Mercury, broadcast nationally on CBS (Figur
e 7.3). The show brought the
into millions of American homes, introducing their well-groomed act to a diverse range of
viewers who may not otherwise have seen it and proving that young Blacks from inner-city
it is unlikely that an independent, Black-owned company operating solely on a premise
of racial identity within the racially segregated climate of the 1960s would have achieved
mass appeal and longevity comparable to that achieved by Motown. Berry GordyÕs astute
sense of what it took to be successful drove the business of Motown and was very much in
tune with Maxine PowellÕs opinion that the companyÕs work was not about race: ÒHoney,

ÒSaying you listened to [DJ] ÔFrantic ErnieÕ carried a certain amount of status for white
Charles E. Sykes
maintain its Black consumer base in spite of crossover success. Cornell West asserts that
Berry Gordy
perceived a vacuum in the musical culture of the nation. He was able to convince young brothers and
brothers and sisters on the other side of town listening to the Beach Boys, that Motown was also their
music. Nothing like that had ever occurred.

Berry Gordy developed his company around a concept that, through music, style,
image, and repertoire, promoted the likelihood that non-Blacks would like and buy
MotownÕs records. But turning the possibility of crossover into reality depended as much
Top 10
Top 10
* 1969 marks the year that
replaced the R&B chart title with the term Òsoul.Ó

Charles E. Sykes
cut material based on his perception of what was more or less important to the sound of
the recording.
The master was then taken to quality control, a committee consisting of
legacy. The assembly line provided a process by which those goals could be achieved.
Berry Gordy believed that songs should tell stories that people can relate to. And, like
a good concept,Ó he writes. ÒProbably the Þ
rst thing people relate to is the melody.Ó The
Phase I
Phase I releases, which were produced on MotownÕs two- and three-track recording sys-
tems, mirror then-past and then-current R&B styles. The Þ
rst Tamla release, ÒCome to
MeÓ (1959), a Berry Gordy production recorded by Marv Johnson, recalls the doo-wop
vocal tradition with its Òooos,Ó Òahhs,Ó and vocal riffs, ingredients that were so much a
part of R&B through the mid-1960s.
Blues elements are present in Berry Gordy pro-
Charles E. Sykes
four-track recording was considered state-of-the-art, the eight-track system activated the
assembly line process and made it possible for priority components of the sound to be iso-
In ÒWhere Did Our Love Go,Ó H-D-H seem to have stripped their gospel-pop con-
cept down to bare bones. Mary Wilson comments: ÒTo my ears, ÔWhere Did Our Love
Charles E. Sykes
had already tested new waters with the mystical sounding ÒI Heard It through the Grape-
vineÓ (1968), recorded by Marvin Gaye, which contrasts with the gospel-based version
recorded by Gladys Knight & The Pips and released in 1967.
NormanÕs Phase III work
delved into social themes with songs like ÒWarÓ (Edwin Starr, 1970), ÒBall of ConfusionÓ
(Temptations, 1970), and ÒSmiling FacesÓ (Undisputed Truth, 1971).
Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder were among the few Motown artists who were also
writers. Both Marvin and Stevie would reach new levels of independence in 1971 as
artistÐwriterÐproducers with concept albums. For Marvin, it was
social theme-based project that became MotownÕs largest selling album. For Stevie, it was
Where I’m Coming From
, which, although far less successful than MarvinÕs work, pro-
vided a prelude to several Grammy-winning albums, and songs from albums, produced
In 1969, Motown launched the Rare Earth label, named after the White psyche-
Charles E. Sykes
we Þ nd that Motown did continue to experience success in LA, particularly with the
previously released, particularly the ÒUnreleasedÓ series, for example:
Motown Unreleased
Motown Unreleased 1962: Guys
Motown Unreleased 1962: Girls
Unreleased 1963
Charles E. Sykes

Carson 2000, 2Ð3.
Mention of Frankie Lymon and the TeenagersÕ influence can be found in Wilson 1986; Robinson 1989;
Reeves 1994; Williams 1998. Mention of the Cadillacs can be found in Williams 1998, 25; Carson 2000,
Gordy 1994, 111Ð112.
Cintron 1982; Carson 2000, 56Ð59.
Robinson 1989, 51; Carson 2000, 36, 67.
The Five Chimes evolved into the Matadors, who were renamed the Miracles. Members from the Primes
Charles E. Sykes
ÒCome to MeÓ was released nationally on the New YorkÐbased United Artist label.
Allen ÒDr. LicksÓ Slutsky, interview by Ann Felter, tape recording by telephone, Cherry Hill, NJ/Bloom-
Robinson 1989, 104; Robinson, quoted in
Reeves 1994, 66.
The SupremesÕ ÒBaby LoveÓ (1964) is noted as the first record to be recorded on MotownÕs eight-track
Mike McLean, interview by the author, videotape recording, Burbank, CA, August 2, 1995; Slutsky 1989,
ÒMomma DonÕt Allow No Loud Guitar PlayinÕ ÕRound Here: The Role of Electric Guitar in Motown
Stax Records and the Impulse
Rob Bowman
The story of Stax Records is about as improbable and unforeseeable as any tale could
possibly be. Started by a White country Þ ddler named Jim Stewart who, by his own admis-
sion, originally knew next to nothing and cared even less about Black music, in the 1960s
Stax Records developed a readily identiÞ
able sound that deÞ ned the very possibilities of
southern soul music. While undeniably involved on a day-by-day basis in the crafting and
Rob Bowman
the vision and energies of Al Bell, Stax tremendously expanded its operation, releasing
music of various genres recorded in various parts of the country. While the company no
longer had a signature sound, it was in this period, with the popularity of Isaac Hayes,
the Dramatics, the Staple Singers, and Rufus Thomas, that Stax enjoyed its greatest com-
mercial success.
The ÒStax Sound,Ó which characterized the companyÕs releases through the late 1960s,
was the result of a number of factors. Perhaps the most fortuitous of these was StewartÕs
edgling company to an abandoned neighborhood
movie theatre in South Memphis at the corner of College and McLemore. With his then
right-hand man, Chips Moman, various members of the all-White instrumental group
the Mar-Keys (whose members included StewartÕs nephew, Packy Axton, as well as future
Stax session musicians Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, and Wayne Jackson), and a handful of
others, Stewart converted the cavernous theatre into a recording studio. Once the seats
were ripped out, a wall was constructed dividing the recording room in half, acoustic
material was fastened to the walls and ceiling, and a control booth was constructed on
Thomas decided to pay a visit to the ß edgling company with his teenage daughter Carla in
tow. Stewart was impressed with the tapes Rufus brought with him and, having achieved
little success with pop and country, Þ gured he had nothing to lose in attempting to mar-
Rob Bowman
out of the south Memphis community. Therefore, it would be more accurate to view Stax
Memphis sound. With the exception of Isaac Hayes, very
few north Memphians made it into the company as either employees or artists. It makes
copated phrasing all in the service of emotional catharsis.
8. A circumscribed harmonic vocabulary largely restricted to major chords.
9. A delayed backbeat on the snare drum and rhythm guitar. The latter technique was
developed in 1965 by Steve Cropper and Al Jackson Jr. in response to a new dance
known as the Jerk, and it became a component of virtually every Stax recording
through the end of the decade.
Less tangible but just as important with regard to the Stax sound was the process
by which these recordings were made. In the 1960s, time and money were initially not
important considerations at Stax when producing a recording. While northern musicians
were paid by the three-hour session, for many years musicians in the South were paid on a
Rob Bowman
stood in direct contrast to the Motown sound which, in its use of prewritten strings,
prominent foregrounding of higher register sounds, busy and dense arrangements, and
copious deployment of pop conventions such as narrative lyric structures and mixes that
placed the lead singer way in front of the accompaniment, signiÞ
ed the commonplace,
assembly-line sonic practices of pop music produced in the industrial, northern city. While
both companiesÕ approaches resulted in important, valuable, and meaningful recordings,
Rob Bowman
with any artist connected to Stax. That same year, Steve Cropper gave his notice and horn
players Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love asked to be taken off salary, agreeing to work at
Stax only on a per-session basis.

As all of these transformations took Stax long beyond the ÕBama stigma that had so
concerned Bell, in 1970 he began to produce the Staple Singers himself,

ironically con-
ducting all of their rhythm sessions in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, while cutting the groupÕs
vocal overdubs at Ardent Studios in Memphis. Muscle Shoals had long been an important
center for the recording of southern soul music with many of Atlantic Records biggest
Rob Bowman
Studios with Terry Manning engineering. Allen Jones, Marvell Thomas, and Al Bell
were credited as co-producers. Only four songs were cut: an eighteen-minute version of
The) Push and Pull,Ó 1970; ÒThe Breakdown,Ó 1971; and ÒDo the Funky Penguin,Ó
1971), and Albert King (ÒIÕll Play the Blues for You,Ó 1972; ÒBreaking Up SomebodyÕs
tle Milton (ÒThatÕs What Love Will Make You Do,Ó 1971), the Emotions (ÒShow Me
How,Ó 1971; and ÒMy Honey and Me,Ó 1972), the Soul Children (ÒIÕll Be the Other
Transcriptions from Isaac Hayess Theme from
Source: Bob Bowman.
moniker speaks volumes about the symbolic importance of HayesÕs achievements to Black
America at large.

Hayes was extremely conscious of this and, alongside Al Bell and
several other Stax artists and employees, felt a tremendous responsibility to both provide
leadership and to give back to the community. In addition to performing at numerous
t concerts, Hayes established the Isaac Hayes Foundation to develop housing proj-
Stax as an organization was also extremely active in supporting Black-oriented com-
munity projects in Memphis and other regions of the country. For example, Stax Records
staged an all-day concert in Los Angeles that featured its artists exclusively. The event,
called WattsStax, was part of the Watts Summer Festival held on August 20, 1972, at the
Los Angeles Coliseum. All proceeds derived from the massive Wattstax concert in August
lm, were donated to Black chari-
ties in the Los Angeles area; for several years, Stax contributed heavily to Jesse JacksonÕs
Operation PUSH organization, and, of course, the company routinely supported local
In addition to providing Þ nancial support, Stax was active on a number of fronts that
were clearly a part of a corporate policy in support of the ideals and goals of the Civil
Rights Movement. While the majority of material recorded by the company addressed
Rob Bowman
recording comedy, gospel, rock, pop, jazz, and socially conscious programs on new labels
such as Partee, Gospel Truth, Respect, Hip, and Truth. Finally, in the 1970s Stax as a
company made tentative steps toward embracing BellÕs pan-African vision, making mar-
Otis ReddingÕs ÒThatÕs How Strong My Love IsÓ (1964). In the 1980s, ZZ Top hit the
charts with their cover of Sam and DaveÕs ÒI Thank YouÓ (1968), as did the Fabulous
Thunderbirds with a similarly refashioned cover of the dynamic duoÕs ÒWrap It UpÓ
(1968). In the world of rap, the Stax inß uence has been even more ubiquitous. From
Heavy D & the BoyzÕs crazed cover of ÒMr. Big Stuff Ó (the original was 1971, the cover
was 1986), to Salt-N-PepaÕs reworking of Linda LyndellÕs ÒWhat a ManÓ (the original
a university degree in music from Indiana and was the only musician on staff at that time capable of writing
out string arrangements.

This information is based on statements made by Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love in interviews with the

Bell signed the Staple Singers to Stax Records in the fall of 1968. Steve Cropper produced the groupÕs first
two albums, neither of which generated charted material.
Kartomi 1981.
Leyshon, Matless, and Revil 1998.
Interview with the author, August 6, 1986.
This information is based on statements made by Jerry Wexler, Jim Stewart, and Al Bell in interviews with
the author.

became the name of HayesÕ next studio album.
See the last four chapters of Bowman 1997
Bell, William.
The Very Best of William Bell
. Stax STXCD 30297, 2007. CD.
Booker T. & the MGs.
Best of Booker T. & The MGs
. Originally released as Atlantic SD 8202, 1968. Stax 046,

Best of Booker T. & The MGs
. Originally released as Stax 60004, 1986. Stax 123, 1998. CD.

Rob Bowman
Chronicle: Greatest Hits
. Originally released as Stax STX-4122, 1978. Stax SCD-4122Ð2,
. Originally recorded March, 1970ÐApril, 1970, originally released
To Be Continued
. Originally released 1970. Stax 4016, 2007. CD.
Hot Buttered Soul
. Originally released 1969. Fantasy/Stax 7231458, 2009. CD.
Originally released 1971. Fantasy/Concord/Stax/Universal,
King, Albert.
Albert King/Little Milton Chronicle
. Originally released 1979. Stax SCD-4123Ð2, 1989. CD.
Little Milton.
The Very Best of Little Milton
. Stax 30306, 2007. CD.
The Mar-Keys.
. Sound and Vision, 2013. Digital.
. Originally released 1968. ATCO Records/Rhino Flashback
Uptown Sound„Downtown Bound
Philadelphia International Records
John A. Jackson

John A. Jackson
Delaware River. By the early 1960s, Huff had acquired a reputation as a notable rhythm
and blues session pianist in Philadelphia and in New York.
Everything changed late that year, however, after Gamble and Huff wrote and pro-
duced the Top 10 hit ÒExpressway to Your HeartÓ for a local Òblue-eyed soulÓ group
called the Soul Survivors. Early the following year, Gamble and Huff surpassed that mile-
stone when they wrote and produced their Þ rst million-selling record,
the Intruders. The strong crossover proclivity of those two hits caused Gamble and Huff
to reassess the appeal of their music. It was now obvious that Whites, as well as Blacks,
were drawn to it.
John A. Jackson
The Þ rst step in that process was to write the lyrics for a particular song. This was
done by Gamble and Huff, who occasionally wrote with a third collaborator, or by a pair
of staff songwriters who wrote songs on demand for a particular artist. Often assisted by
the rhythm section, Gamble and Huff then composed the songÕs rhythm track. The art-
ist, or the lead singer of the group recording the song, would then come into the studio
and record the lead vocals while listening to the rhythm track. Gamble and Huff next
employed someone to write an arrangement for the song. Their top arranger was the mul-
titalented vibraphonist, Bobby Martin, who Þ
rst made a splash as a musician in the late
1940s. (In the early 1960s, Martin produced Patti LaBelle & the BluebellesÕ Þ
rst records.)
Besides Martin, Gamble and Huff regularly used Thom Bell as an arranger. (Bell was then
and blues music business. The renewed interest in rhythm and blues by Columbia (the
label had operated a subsidiary called OKeh during the 1950s and Date in the 1960s)
was the result of two occurrences. One was the demonstration by Stax, Atlantic, and
Motown that well-promoted Black artists, given the necessary distribution, could deliver
albums that appealed to a multiracial audience. With its 1969 release, Isaac HayesÕ Stax
Hot Buttered Soul
was cast as a creative force in rhythm and blues and soul. Also
John A. Jackson
own artists and produced and recorded their own music. After receiving the Þ
master recordings, Columbia manufactured, distributed, and promoted Philadelphia
InternationalÕs records. In addition, the Philadelphia International agreement called for
Gamble and Huff to periodically produce albums for ColumbiaÕs own recording artists.
The agreement was designed to beneÞ
t both parties. With its implementation, Colum-
ected singer friendly with Kenny Gamble). Having grown impatient,
Columbia sent word to Philadelphia: start producing hit records.

The second coming of Philadelphia International Records occurred late in 1971, with
the signing of two rhythm and blues groups: Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and the
OÕJays. At the time they signed with Philadelphia International, neither of these two
shopworn groups, with a combined thirty years of recording experience for at least twenty
different record labels, had ever had a Top 40 hit. But because of these two un-noteworthy
signings, Gamble and HuffÕs underachieving record company stood on the brink of a
startling breakthrough. In the spring of 1972, Philadelphia International released albums
by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes ( Figure 9.1 ), the OÕJays, and Billy Paul, all of which
John A. Jackson
trade. The emotionally provocative and critically acclaimed package became Philadelphia
InternationalÕs best-selling album up to that time. By then, Philadelphia International had
added a fourth hit-recording group to its growing roster. In addition to backing other
artists, the musicians known as MFSB now made albums on their own. Their
, released near the end of 1973 and bolstered by the million-selling dance anthem,
As good things continued to happen at Philadelphia International, Gamble repeatedly
attempted to persuade Thom Bell to formally join him and Huff at the label. But Bell, a
ercely independent individual who enjoyed a successful career as a writer, arranger, and
producer (then principally for Atlantic RecordsÕ ß agship rhythm and blues group, the
Spinners), refused to be tied to any record company. But Gamble, Huff, and Bell did Þ
a way to join forces. In 1973, they formed a holding company called Great Philadelphia
Trading. That company subsequently purchased a building located in the heart of Phila-
delphia that had previously served as headquarters for the then-defunct CameoÐParkway
Records. Desperately in need of additional operating space, Philadelphia International
Records leased space in the building and moved the companyÕs operations out of its
the OÕJays to project many of his socioeconomic points, with songs such as ÒBack Stab-
the well-being of Philadelphia International Records and its artists. Such was the case in
1973, when Billy Paul, coming off the million-selling ÒMe and Mrs. Jones,Ó seemed to
John A. Jackson
record for Gamble and Huff, became one of Atlantic RecordsÕ coterie of rhythm and blues
producers dubbed the ÒYoung Professionals.Ó As if that were not enough, Philadelphia
International was also about to lose its second most popular recording act.
In the fall of 1975, Philadelphia International managed to release albums by the OÕJays
) and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes (
Wake Up Everybody
) before the
mass defections occurred. Both albums became huge hits, but as the year ended, the Blue
NotesÕ lead singer Teddy Pendergrass, who endured a contentious relationship with the
acerbic Harold Melvin, split from the group. Pendergrass would continue to record for
Philadelphia International, but there was no guarantee that he would be as successful on
his own as he had been with his former group (who moved to another label). The title of
nal album for Gamble and Huff shrieked the warning:
Wake Up Every-
! Philadelphia International Records could not survive if its current state of affairs did
not improve in a hurry.
delphia International Records began the process of recasting itself. Gamble and HuffÕs
beleaguered company had the wherewithal to rectify its spate of problems, and acted accord-
ingly. (By this time, Philadelphia International was then the sixth-largest Black-owned
fty employees and an annual payroll of $3
million.) Drummer Charles Collins, guitarist Dennis Green, and bassist Michael ÒSugar-
Dannen, the payoff money came from the quarterly checks that CBS gave to Philadelphia
International for promotional support. One investigator involved with the case said that
prosecutors had lists of Òthe amount of moneyÓ paid out by Philadelphia International

What prosecutors did not have were people willing to testify
that Philadelphia International had paid them off. Without such corroboration of the
evidence, no cases could be brought against those charged. Thus, Gamble was able to
work out a plea bargain. Perhaps the biggest casualty of Project Sound was Black music
in general. Despite the embarrassingly insubstantial results of the government probe, the
John A. Jackson
charge in the cityÕs Black neighborhoods. But GambleÕs noble campaign was rebuffed by
PhiladelphiaÕs race-baiting mayor, Frank Rizzo, and never really caught on. This ofÞ
rejection by the city to which Gamble had remained true stiffened his resolve to further
International Records was brieß
y revived. But after the release of two contemporary
albums that went virtually unnoticed, Philadelphia International Records shut its doors
The doors of Philadelphia International Records remain shuttered. Periodically, rumors
of the creation of a Philadelphia International museum in the historic building appear.
(Gamble, Huff, and BellÑby way of Great Philadelphia TradingÑstill own the choice
piece of real estate.) One of the greatest successes of Gamble and HuffÕs record company
was the establishment of the sound of Philadelphia as a signiÞ cant musical genre. In the
recordings. Gamble, Huff, and Bell subsequently sold their Mighty Three Music cata-
log to WarnerÐChappell Music.
John A. Jackson
Cummings 1975, 86.
Interview by the author, November 9, 2000.
Interview by the author, August 5, 2001.
Interviews by the author, September 27, 2000.
Cummings 1975, 103.
Ibid., 107.
Davis 1976, 164.
Bowman 1997, 280.
Interview by the author, November 8, 2000.
Interviews by the author, September 27, 2000.
ColumbiaÕs dictate to Òstart producing recordsÓ was revealed by the Philadelphia-based producer Billy
Jackson in his interview with the author, November 9, 2000. Jackson worked for Columbia Records from
Interviews by the author, September 30, 2001.
Cummings 1975, 137.
Ibid., 127.
Interview by the author, November 8, 2000.
Dannen 1991, 103, 104.
George 1988, 145.
Butler, Jerry.
Nothing Says I Love You Like I Love You
. Originally released as Philadelphia International/EMI
Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.
The Essential Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes featuring Teddy Pender-
. Originally recorded 1972Ð1975. Epic/Legacy 90627, 2004. CD.

Wake Up Everybody
. Originally released as Philadelphia International/EMI ZK-33808, 1975. Edsel
Originally released as Philadelphia Interna-
And the Beat Goes OnŽ
SOLAR„The Sound of Los Angeles Records
Scot Brown
SOLAR (Sound of Los Angeles Records) was one of the most successful Black-owned
record labels from the late 1970s through the Õ80s, with a lengthy run of hits and a large
roster of artists including The Whispers, Shalamar, Dynasty, Lakeside, Midnight Star,
Klymaxx, Carrie Lucas, The Deele, Calloway, and Babyface. The label was founded in
1977 and innovatively embraced multiple trends associated with soul, disco, and funk.
ourished in the midst of a transformation in the history of American and African
American music. Large entertainment conglomerates were developing strategies to gain
Scot Brown
producers to other labels; e.g. The Jackson 5 (Epic), Four Tops (ABC), Gladys Knight &
the Pips (Buddha Records), The Temptations (Atlantic), and Marvin Gaye (Columbia).

Black labels had difÞ culty weathering the late 1970s and Õ80sÑStax Records was sold
in 1977, Philadelphia International experienced major declines in sales by the mid-1980s,
and the iconic Motown Records was sold in 1988. Pop music historian David Sanjek
observed, in 1997, that SOLAR had distinguished itself from other recently established
[O]ne can point to such recent enterprises as Sylvia and Joe RobinsonÕs Sugar Hill Records, Dick GriffeyÕs
Solar Records, or Paisley Park Records . . . all, with the exception of Solar Records, are no longer labels
in the commercial spotlight.

Part of SOLARÕs ability to endure was its ability to constantly maneuver and negotiate with
more powerful corporate forces in the industryÑespecially distributors. By 1981 SOLAR
expanded to the point of launching Constellation Records. Three years laterÑKlymaxx,
Collage, and Carrie Lucas moved over to the subsidiary which had acquired a distribution
arrangement with MCA, independent of SOLARÕs distributor Elektra/Asylum.

This essay examines the rise and decline of SOLAR records with an interest in: (1) the
origins of the label, (2) sonic strategies for commercial success, and (3) the parallel politi-
cal and economic activism of its founder, Dick Griffey.
When Dick Griffey launched SOLAR in 1977, he had acquired decades of experience in
While among a small clique of Black promoters of national stature in 1973, Griffey
raised the issue of racism in the music industry and the need for African American empow-
erment (recurring concerns that would shape his entrepreneurial efforts). Noting the
widespread exclusion of Black promoters from large national venues, he stated in 1973,
Ò[T]here are a lot of capable black promoters all over the country who deserve a shot
at some of these major concerts.Ó
Griffey subsequently answered these concerns with
activism, co-founding the United Black Concert Promoters Association. By the early
1980s, the association collaborated with Reverend Jesse JacksonÕs People United to Serve
Humanity (PUSH) and opened the door for African American promoters to gain access
to large arena tours. Out of these efforts Al Haymon emerged in 1984 as the Þ
rst Black
promoter of the Budweiser Superfest concert series. Concert promotion, however, was
Scot Brown
national audiences; e.g. waacking, popping, robotics, and backsliding (popularized by
Also in 1975 Cornelius and Griffey (Figure 10.1) formed Soul Train RecordsÑthey
were natural partners for this new business venture since Griffey had served as talent coor-
Soul Train
television show.

Soul Train
Õs artist roster represented musical diversity and included: The Soul Train
Soul Train
dancers), The Whispers, Shalamar, Carrie
Lucas, and Sun Bear. Given the trends of the time period of the label (1975Ð1977),
Õs musical direction embodied the overlapping appeal and shared styles of early Õ70s
soul along with signature up-tempo rhythms and beats associated with disco.
Cornelius and Griffey employed a number of Los Angeles producers, musicians, and
studios to work on speciÞ c projects such as Carrie LucasÕ debut,
Simply Carrie
Soul Train Records. At the same time, they often looked to the East Coast when putting
on The WhispersÕ LP,
(1976) produced by drummer Norman Harris
of the MFSB (Mother Father Sister Brother)Ña collective of musicians who recorded the
Soul Train
television show, ÒTSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia).Ó
Scot Brown
his signature on slower tempo love ballads. The vision for this sound is tied to SylversÕ per-
sonal journey. He was the second oldest in a musical family of nine children and had been
involved in music for many years prior to his debut as SOLARÕs producer. In the early
1970s the family group known as The Sylvers recorded with MGM and then with Capi-
tol Records. His experience sharing singing parts with his sisters and brothers cultivated
a special ear for arranging complex harmonies. Leon, a multi-instrumentalist, learned
recording skills from Freddie Perren, formerly of the Motown production team known as
ÒThe Corporation.Ó Perren produced The Sylvers during their stint with Capitol Records,
Leon left the group shortly thereafter and formed an independent production company,
Silverspoon Productions.
GoodÓ (1982), and ÒA Night to RememberÓ (1982). Lyrically ShalamarÕs hits tended to
focus on love, and/or love drama, and celebratory feelings.
The good vibes sensibility also resonated on Carrie LucasÕ Þ rst SOLAR project
Scot Brown
During the Þ rst half of SOLARÕs run as a Black popular music wellspring (roughly
from 1978 through the early 1980s), Leon SylversÕ team of songwriters and produc-
ers was the wind carrying SOLARÕs rapid rise as a major player in Black popular music.
Motown, Philadelphia International, and Black music divisions of larger companies had
to make room. By 1981 SOLAR was a recognized force in the industry, noted for being
part of the revival of Òspirited ÔBlack pop.Õ Ó Some music critics wondered if the labelÕs
late 1970s run would continue into the new decade.
The concern was justiÞ
ed. Musi-
cal tastes were rapidly changing, especially with the ascendency of synthesizers and drum
longer was the main contributor to the labelÕs endurance throughout a decade wrought
with changes in technologies of sound and R&B tastes that bent toward groove-based,
slower tempos. Silverspoon, in this context, would have to share production leadership of
SOLAR with a new group of producers and songwriters whoÑoften due to SylversÕ own
mentorshipÑhad come from the ranks of self-contained bands.

The Þ rst half of SOLARÕs reign presented commercial challenges that laid the basis for the
label to reassert itself during the mid-1980s. Tapping into funk leanings in Black popular
musicÑwhich roughly corresponded with the peak years of disco (1976Ð1980)ÑSOLAR
signed a number of large-sized, self-contained bands. Funk bands in the late 1970s did
classic ÒFantastic VoyageÓ (1980) was LakesideÕs biggest hit, taking listeners on a musical
ride to the promised Òland of funk.Ó
The members of Lakeside wrote their own material. However,
were both produced by Leon Sylvers, who mentored them through the process
of recording. The band had self-produced the third and most successful album in their
Fantastic Voyage
nal process for large-sized bands that beneÞ t from the creative input of many ideas and
voices. Nevertheless, most big funk bands had certain members that particularly excelled
as writers and producers. Guitarist Steve Shockley and vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Otis
Stokes both worked on numerous projects for other SOLAR artists: The Whispers, Shala-
mar, Carrie Lucas, and Klymaxx. Each of them, in speciÞ c instances, collaborated with
very proliÞ c songwriter and ÒThrown Down BrotherÓ Will ShelbyÑbrother of Lakeside
singer Thomas Shelby. With some variation, a pattern repeated itself with Midnight Star,
Klymaax, and The Deele: (1) placing a band with a known producer for initial recording
projects, (2) moving the band to self-produce, and (3) identifying individual songwriters
and producers in the band to work on other SOLAR projects.
Joining SOLAR in 1980, Midnight Star was another Ohio-born band known for
burning up the stage. This group was an assemblage of highly trained musicians (many of
whom attended Kentucky State University)ÑReginald Calloway, Vincent Calloway, Ken-
Scot Brown
Rushen, Marvin Gaye, Mtume, Atlantic Starr, and Luther Vandross, Midnight Star also
extensive history as a working concert band prior to joining SOLAR. Formed in 1979 by
Scot Brown
from the Minneapolis camp of artists produced by Õ80s megastar, Prince. Six of the eight
rst LP,
Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. The trip spurred
Scot Brown
tended to stay with and develop artists in ways that would defy the patience of major
companies. Summarizing this strategy, Griffey mused: Ò[The] majority of the majors . . .
have money, they have Þ
nancing, and they have the infrastructure but they really donÕt
have the Berry Gordys, the Kenny Gambles or the Al Bells,Ó who can see potential beyond
quick proÞ ts. ÒWhen youÕre looking at the diamond in the rough,Ó he concluded, Òmost
ÒThe Whispers Say: And Beat Goes On,Ó 1980, B.
Sculatti 1981, K76.
Sylvers remained the main producer of Shalamar through 1983 when the group began to go through major
personnel changes. During the early to mid-1980s he also took on more projects from non-SOLAR artists,
Tyscot Records
Gospel Music Production as Ministry
Tyron Cooper
Indianapolis, IndianaÐbased Tyscot Records is the oldest Black-owned and operated
gospel music label in the United States. The label is one of three brands housed under
the ofÞ cial company, Tyscot Incorporated, which encompasses Tyscot Records, Tyscot
Films, and Tyscot Publishing, with its catalog of approximately four thousand mostly
Christian-based songs. As an independent recording label that has greatly impacted the
careers of numerous artists, executives, and other creative personnel in the gospel music
industry, from its inception Tyscot founders conceived the label as a ministry-driven busi-
ness, a concept that profoundly shapes the character of its day-to-day operations as well
as its approach to achieving its Þ
scal goals. In other words, the intersection of faith and
commerce is readily evident in the story of Tyscot Records.
The total number of industry insiders impacted by Tyscot, since its founding in 1976,
is literally too extensive to cite here. Even co-founder of Tyscot, Leonard Scott, when
asked how many artists the company has included on its roster over almost four decades
of existence, simply stated, ÒOh wow, lots!Ó
While no ofÞ cial comprehensive artist roster
from 1976 to the present exists, many would likely be surprised to know that some of
the most well-known national gospel recording performers and industry executives have
been impacted by the label in various ways throughout their careers. Seven-time Grammy
Award winner, Kirk Franklin, and three-time Stellar Award winner, Kim Burrell, obtained
Tyscot Records
The late Al ÒThe BishopÓ Hobbs, one of gospel musicÕs premier radio announcers
and founder of independent gospel music label Aleho Records, distributed several of
his companyÕs recording releases through Tyscot. Pioneering gospel artist/producer/
TV personality Bobby Jones has also released music on the Tyscot label.
Through its
involvement in both recording and distribution, Tyscot has functioned as a launch-
ing pad for performers and other industry insiders considered mega-stars in the
rst-century gospel music recording community. The ofÞ ce of Tyscot includes
an archival room stacked ß oor to ceiling with hard copies of recordings released by the
company from its inception to the present, tangibly reß ecting the extent of the labelÕs
output and impact.
Leonard Scott and the late Craig Tyson founded Tyscot Records in 1976 at ages
twenty-seven and twenty-four, respectively. Prior to the companyÕs launch, Tyson and
Scott had seminal musical and life experiences, which prepared them well for this major
undertaking. Son of the late Bishop James Tyson, who was a well-known pastor in the
Craig Tyson was a prodigy church organist whose musical
upbringing can be traced back to Youngstown, Ohio, where he honed his music skills
during worship services at Mount Calvary Pentecostal Church, pastored by his father.
During the early 1970s, Bishop Tyson moved the family to Indianapolis to pastor what is
considered the cityÕs ÒmotherÓ Apostolic church, Christ Temple Apostolic Faith Assembly.
At Christ Temple, Tyson continued in his role as church organist, over time developing
a national reputation for his virtuoso organ performances, choir directing, and music
arrangements, and as a Þ rst-call musician for regional and national gospel recording ses-
sions. In 1976, Bishop Tyson left Christ Temple to start his own church, Christ Church
Apostolic in Indianapolis, and Craig Tyson again followed his father to serve as church
organist and choir director, a position that would further equip him with the artistic and
religious sensibilities to co-found Tyscot Records that same year.
Leonard Scott, who attended Christ Temple Apostolic Faith Assembly as a child,
phone in the Soul Messengers funk band from Terre Haute, Indiana. Unlike Tyson, whose
musical experience was grounded exclusively in the church, ScottÕs musical boundaries
Tyron Cooper
Tyscot Records
for Christ Apostolic Church Radio Choir, which they called
was signiÞ cant, as the Òradio choirÓ was featured during the weekly church service radio
broadcast on WTLC-AM 1310Ñthe primary radio station programming Black gospel
music in Indianapolis. Without a recording, Christ Church ApostolicÕs radio choir, like
many other church radio choirs during that time, could only be heard during Sunday
morning worship services or on the churchÕs weekly WTLC radio program. The release
allowed supporters and consumers an opportunity to engage Christ Church
ApostolicÕs live musical and worship atmosphere in the privacy of their homes any time.
More signiÞ
led to the eventual formation of Tyscot Records, as Scott
And we started working on this recording. . . . I was practicing dentistry by now and I also had purchased
a nursing home, so I was doing some other things. And my attorney told me, ÒIf youÕre gonna do some-
Tyron Cooper
Key positions at Tyscot have shifted over time since the companyÕs founding in 1976.
For the Þ rst few years Leonard Scott and Craig Tyson were the only employees at
Tyscot. Leonard Scott served as president for the Þ rst twelve years, from 1976 to 1988,
personally overseeing the business aspects of the label. During this time, Scott also
created other businesses such as the aforementioned dental practice and a local nurs-
ing home. The dental ofÞ ce, which he opened in 1973, was located at 3532 Keystone
Avenue in Indianapolis, where Tyscot Records was originally housed upstairs in the
same building. ScottÕs businesses have always been closely linked via ownership and
maximum record sales for the company. During the 1980s, ClarkÕs mother, Mildred
Clark, became TyscotÕs Þ rst full-time employee; she performed multiple tasks, including
answering the phone, contacting radio stations to gain airplay for the label, and preparing
mailings. As needed, Tyscot also periodically hired freelance workers to assist with tasks
Tyscot Records
it wasnÕt making any money. I was doing it because I loved it, you know? And IÕd tell him, ÒYou know
some people golf. They do what they want to do. I like music. I like doing this.Ó You know? And he said,
ÒWell, okay.Ó

Jeopardizing his own Þ nancial stability, Scott continued to pursue the viability of
Tyscot, eventually compiling a roster of some of the labelÕs earliest ß agship artists. Among
of a gospel record company is radio airplay, and so they had all these radio announcers
Tyron Cooper
prominent artists of the 1980s and 1990s, John P. Kee. Leonard Scott recalls that on
a Saturday morning in 1987, he Òreceived a phone call from Derek DirksenÓ who was
then assisting Tyscot with locating new talent. Dirksen also managed Commissioned, the
popular 1990s contemporary male gospel group from Michigan. After Dirksen played a
few songs from KeeÕs demo tape over the phone, Leonard Scott shouted, ÒJust sign him!Ó
a decision that would later elevate the status of Tyscot Records in the music industry even

Shortly after signing, the singerÐsongwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kee began to
record albums with his ensemble, New Life Community Choir:
Wait on Him
There Is Hope
Wash Me
(1991). On these projects, Kee mixed traditional gos-
Tyscot Records
Bryant Scott could have chosen to become a dentist following the career path that had
already proven to be proÞ table for his father. However, based upon his faith in God
and the belief that he was ordainedÑdivinely chosenÑto run his fatherÕs business, the
college-aged young man opted instead to begin his stint as president of the label. His
unwavering resolve is indicative of how the business decisions of both father and son
are driven Þ rst and foremost by religious belief, or faith. In essence, like Leonard Scott,
Bryant Scott views his work at Tyscot as a type of ministry, even though the realities
Tyron Cooper
With such a strong roster of artists whose projects were released by Tyscot in the
early 1990s, the impact of SpectraÕs bankruptcy became far more daunting. The labelÕs
economic viability was at stake. Scott reß
. . . the owner of the company [Spectra] that distributed our records called. And it was on a Friday
Tyscot Records
business resolve. Rather, he instantly went to work in an effort to shore up the company
Dad made it clear that he wanted to pay everybody that we owed. I did not want to declare bankruptcy
or anything so I went to work cutting deals. Because we wanted to pay people they were very favorable in
how they treated us. They understood for the most part, and we were able to cut deals with manufactur-
ers and other suppliers for . . . dimes on the dollar. They were just elated that we desired to pay and not

While Bryant Scott held the position of president during this deÞ ning moment, both
his and his dadÕs responses to the looming Þ nancial crisis reß ected a shared approach
to business through the prism of faith. Clearly, as a business, TyscotÕs ultimate objec-
tive was Þ nancial stability or Þ scal soundness, and indeed they were able to resolve the
immediate Þ nancial crisis via payment agreements they established with Òmanufactur-
ers and other suppliersÓ along with others to whom they were indebted. However,
the unconventional approaches the Tyscot enterprise employed to achieve that desired
state, particularly in the face of such daunting potential defeat, represented their per-
sonal resolve to rely on God as their guide and leader rather than on their own human
TYSCOT: 2010…
By 2010, a series of events led to a second major Þ nancial crisis at Tyscot. First, techno-
logical advancement opened the door to illegal Þ le sharing, which consequently impacted
legal purchases of song releases and other associated revenue. Furthermore, with the
Tyron Cooper
lm industry with the companyÕs then premier artist/producer Deitrick HaddonÕs
rst feature movie,
HaddonÕs initiative to produce Þ
which extended the companyÕs artistic output and Þ nancial gain, allowed Bryant Scott
Tyscot Records
The notion behind branding, according to Melanie Scott, is to make Òyourself identiÞ
Tyron Cooper
sounds and styles of the labelÕs featured artists. Through the collective efforts of this cre-
ative aggregate, Tyscot offers diverse styles of traditional and contemporary gospel music
along with other Christian-based media such as Tyscot Films
and Tyscot Loud, a new
hip hop component launched in 2015 that promotes music of gospel rap artists.
TyscotÕs current active roster features seasoned and up-and-coming traditional and
contemporary gospel artists, including Leonard Scott himself, who has recorded over
eight solo albums and partners with his wife, Christine Scott, while performing gospel
music around the nation (see Figure 11.2 ). Other artists include Anthony Brown and
Group Therapy, The Rance Allen Group, Ruth LaÕOntra, Casey J, Lonnie Hunter, Tiff
Leonard and Christine Scott perform at Why We Sing: Indianapolis Gospel Music
Tyscot Records
and described by Kirk Franklin as having been created with a purpose and Òpassion to
serve God, to spread the Word, and to change peopleÕs lives through the medium of
In similar fashion, TyscotÕs mission statement charges label associates to
have Òa positive, powerful impact on every human soul worldwide.Ó
Most staff mem-
bers chosen to work for Tyscot are selected not only for their expertise in artistry and/or
business, but also for their ability to conform to the religious framework and primary aim
of the companyÑministry.
The role of prayer at Tyscot is one of many ways to identify the collective ministerial
intent among associates of the label. In selecting artists for the roster, for instance, Leonard
Scott states, Òwe pray over and seek divine direction before signing an artist.Ó
contends, prayer is one of the most prominent ways label staff seek GodÕs guidance. Tyscot
staff members alternate in leading prayers every morning before beginning the workday;
they pray as a collective for clear direction regarding daily business tasks. Prayer is also an
integral part of the recording production process. During Leonard ScottÕs live recording
My Worship Experience
(2010), in which I participated as gui-
tarist, musicians and music directors gathered before rehearsals and performances to pray
Tyron Cooper
saved,Ó or become a Christian, and adapt the outward lifestyle promoted at Tyscot. She
began to attend church regularly and abstain from profanity and other behaviors deemed
contrary to religious character. In essence, the religious convictions she developed shaped
her loyalty to Tyscot and ultimately overshadowed her Þ
nancial concerns. During the
companyÕs most challenging times, Oliver remained steadfast and unmovable. Clearly,
she and the entire staff Òlived the life they sang about,Ó
ecting what Leonard Scott
emphatically declares: ÒAlong with a business, Tyscot is a ministry.Ó

The prevailing religious grounding evident at Tyscot is also strongly operative in other
contexts industry-wide, including Black Entertainment TelevisionÕs gospel music talent
although signiÞ cant, ways from its secular model,
, stating:

places strong focus on branding, imaging, and constructing consumer relationships, fac-
tors present in
, but sublimated to the overall purpose of music ministry. In
is more at stake than the pursuit of a career as a recording artist. Its winner will venture into an industry
purposed to present God to the masses.

anointing during performances,
judges are expected to recognize the tran-
Tyscot Records
product to ensure the Þ
nancial gain, viability, and stability of the company. This goal is
Tyron Cooper
Bryant Scott, interview with the author, July 6, 2015.
During an interview in 1993, Roger Holmes, who was also manager for national gospel artist Richard
Smallwood, informed Mellonee Burnim about typical record sales figures for gospel performers (Burnim
winning numerous top industry awards including two Stellar Awards, two Dove Awards, and four GMWA
awards. The label has become synonymous with the success of Kirk Franklin, one of the top-selling artists/
producers in the gospel music industry.
Franklin 1998, 148.
Sidney Scott, interview with the author, July 7, 2015.
Tyscot Records
Dan Willis and the Pentecostals of Chicago.
. Tyscot Records 4029, 1992. CD.
Hobbs, Al.
. Tyscot Records 86515, 1995. CD.
Jesus Gang.
Live My Life for You
. Tyscot Records 1232, 2000. CD.
John P. Kee and Friends.
There Is Hope
. Tyscot Records 6127, 1990. CD.
Melvin Dawson and Genesis Ensemble.
Signs of the Times
. Tyscot Records 4034, 1992. CD.
Murdock, Shirley.
Live: The Journey
. Tyscot Records TYS 9841932, 2011. CD.
The New Life Community Choir featuring John P. Kee.
Wait On Him
. Tyscot Records TCD-89415, 1989.
The New Life Community Choir featuring John P. Kee.
Wash Me
. Tyscot Records 7901401729, 1991. CD.
The New Life Community Choir featuring John P. Kee.
We Walk by Faith
. Tyscot Records 4031, 1992. CD.
The New Life Community Choir featuring John P. Kee.
. New Life/Tyscot/
Verity 43139, 2000. CD.
Reverend Oscar Hayes and the Abundant Life Fellowship Chorale.
Got 2 Tell It
. Tyscot Records 4024, 1991.
Scott, Leonard.
Bishop Leonard Scott Presents: My Worship Experience
. Tyscot Records 984188, 2010. CD.
Taylor, Kathy.
Live: The Worship Experience
. Tyscot Records 984178, 2009. CD.
Tichenor, Denise.
. Tyscot Records 4033, 1992. CD.
Trinity Temple Full Gospel Mass Choir.
. Tyscot Records 4037, 1993. CD.
Voices of Women in Gospel Music
Resisting Representations
Mellonee V. Burnim
Perhaps more than any other genre in the history of African American music, gospel music
Mellonee V. Burnim
forthrightly, without barriers. WomenÕs high visibility, power, and authority in gospel
music provide no assurance that the gospel terrain is a level playing Þ eld. What exists on
the surface as victorious presence
power actually obscures the battles either fought
and won, or averted, that allowed women to rise to positions of renown. Just as gospel
music itself is Òmultidimensional in construct,Ó consisting of more than text, dress, and
behavior, the lives and stories of those women who have been at the forefront of the
advance of gospel music historically are equally multilayered and complex.

As women, they challenged the status quo in music circles, much the same as their
blues counterparts. Blues women were out on the road, confronting Jim Crow, enduring
the stress of performing night after night, managing entourages of family and support
staff, and singing songs that the church considered objectionable, in places that the church
considered even more objectionable. Similarly, pioneering women of gospel maintained
an unrelenting itinerary, often confronting Jim Crow; enduring one-night performance
runs; managing entourages of family, accompanists, and ensemble members; and singing
songs initially considered Òtoo bluesyÓ by members of the established church community.
In order for their voices to be heard, women of gospel music constantly confronted
prevailing stereotypical and restrictive images of themselves and of their music. Their
challenge was against representations of who they were and what they were capable of
doing as women, on the one hand, and who they were and what their capabilities were as
musicians, on the other. Given the number of women who made signiÞ
cant contributions
to gospel music, I have chosen to limit this investigation to three women who rose to the
forefront of gospel music during its formative years, women who dared to bring dreams to
life that others could barely imagine: Lucie Campbell, Mahalia Jackson, and Willie Mae
Ford Smith. These are women for whom the most extensive body of data exists, allowing
for an in-depth exploration of the dynamics, timbre, and texture of their musical, cultural,
and spiritual voices. I will explore the messages embedded in the music as text and as
genre, in order to more fully grasp what it meant for these pioneers to confront such for-
midable institutions as the music industry and the church, and such dominant individuals
as ministers and spouses. The women in this discussion Þ ll the ranks of both ordinary and
extraordinary; they survived by blazing their own trails. Through music, they were liber-
ated and empowered to profoundly touch the lives of millions.
LUCIE CAMPBELL (1885…1963)
Lucie Campbell ( Figure 12.1
) was born in the Deep South, in Mississippi in 1885. She
was the daughter of former slaves and the youngest of eleven children. Her father died
when she was a newborn; her mother raised the children alone, taking in washing and
Voices of Women in Gospel
her well, holds virtually legendary status in the annals of the National Baptist Convention.
For a period of over forty years, she functioned as a powerful Þ gure to be reckoned with.
In 1915, after the convention split, Campbell was one of nine organizers invited to be a
part of reorganization efforts, because she had a reputation as an Òoutstanding Christian
worker and singer.Ó

As a composer, Campbell had an output of over one hundred songs. She directed
1,000-voice choirs and sponsored extravagant musicals and pageants. She deÞ
ned the
character of worship at the Baptist convention by choosing what songs were to be sung
and by whom. When gospel great Clara Ward was initially rejected in her early 1950s
bid for an appearance at the National Baptist Convention, it was Campbell who reversed
Lucie Campbell.
Courtesy Luvenia George.
Mellonee V. Burnim
the decision and allowed her to perform. Everybody who was anybody knew that songs
selected for the convention were virtually guaranteed success. After Thomas DorseyÕs ÒIf
You See My SaviorÓ was introduced at the convention in 1930, he promptly sold 4,000
Voices of Women in Gospel
strength, courage and intellect, he will follow a woman anywhere. Someone boastfully remarked that
man is the head. A quick-witted woman replied, ÒThen woman is the neckÑthe head cannot turn

In another address, Campbell advances the physical beauty of the Black woman, speak-
ing to audiences long before the ÒBlack Is BeautifulÓ slogan of the 1960s and sending a
message of empowerment that she not only envisioned, but actually lived. She exhorts:
Women, we are somebodyÑclothed in the sun. No need for costume jewelry or real diamonds, rubies or
pearls. The sun is enough. You can barely look at the sun with the naked eye. It is too dazzling. A perfectly
dressed woman will bear heavily on the eye.

Loved by the National Baptist Convention for her organizational skill, her musician-
were known to eagerly await the 5Õ2,Ó 110-pound giant as she made her entrances onto
the platform; the sight of her Òstrutting,Ó as it was called, across the stage brought
Mellonee V. Burnim
conscious act of resistance to charges that represented her as difÞ
Voices of Women in Gospel
JacksonÕs list of accomplishments is stellar. She won two Grammy awards, as well
Mellonee V. Burnim
Using the Negro spiritual ÒStanding in the Need of PrayerÓ as her audition piece, Professor
DuBois (referred to by some sources as Prof. Kendricks) quickly stopped her, exclaiming:
ThatÕs no way to sing that song. Slow down. . . . YouÕve got to learn to stop hollering. The way you sing
is not a credit to the Negro race. YouÕve got to learn to sing songs so that white people can understand

Voices of Women in Gospel
She continued:
Even in those days when I was arguing with Ike, I somehow knew that what I had to give was in my sing-
ing. A lot of times we donÕt appreciate who we are and what we are. Even education, while itÕs a wonderful
thing, can make a person narrow that way about himself.

MahaliaÕs resistance to negative views of her music in the case of her husband Ike and
her prospective instructor Professor DuBois are representative examples of intracultural
ict. She was an African American confronting other African AmericansÕ devaluations
of an indigenous African American music genre that she loved. The indictments were not
directed toward MahaliaÕs voice or her person; the attacks were not
Mellonee V. Burnim
show certain nights, and they did work with me, but some of them may not
have liked what I do! Well that Þ rst day the arranger walked over to me even before I had my coat off.
an opener. Now the song he was talking about is a very old and famous spiritual, ÒNobody Knows the
Trouble IÕve Seen.Ó Of all the music in that studio he should have known that song! Well, that man told
just talked right back at him. I said: ÒHow come, mister, you think you can tell me about that old song,
when it was born in my mouth?Ó And, you know, he answered me back with ridicule. He talked to me
real bad. But I held my tongue and said nothing more. I decided to answer him through the song itself,

Both the music and its message became for Mahalia a weapon of resistance, just
the recording studio nor the television studio adhered to values and norms commonplace
in the Black church. She explained:
Time is important to me . . . because I want to sing long enough to leave a message. IÕm used to singing
in churches where nobody would dare stop me until the Lord arrives! But the Þ rst thing those television
and recording folks would do was to start warning me, ÒLook out! Watch your time!Ó And then, Þ
thing you know, theyÕd start cutting the song! I always got the feeling that some of those producers and
studio people were trying to slick me up, turn me into a commercial entertainer. But real gospel singing
entertainment . . .
She complained further:
I hate to see how the commercial world takes over the songs that have been the strength of my people.
How they turn them into jived-up nightclub acts and rock-and-roll recordings. The dignity of a colored
churchÑreligion itselfÑis being debased, so that a few people can make some fast money out of them.

Although Mahalia Jackson was the creative artist, she was not always in control of the
Voices of Women in Gospel
When Mahalia Jackson died in 1972, she was honored with two funerals, one in the
city of Chicago where she had lived since 1927 and the second in New Orleans, the city of
Mellonee V. Burnim
Voices of Women in Gospel
Mother SmithÕs encounter with the minister brazen enough to threaten to Òpat her
hipsÓ was dissipated through song, another way of turning it over to the Lord. She did
Mellonee V. Burnim
race and sex in order to save her family and her people. . . . For some Black women that may involve being
feminine as traditionally deÞ ned, and for others it involves being masculine as stereotypically deÞ
ned. In
either case, womanist just means being and acting out who you are.

The three women I have discussedÑLucie Campbell, Mahalia Jackson, and Willie
Mae Ford SmithÑdeÞ ed stereotypes, resisted representation; they blazed their own trails.
Through music they were liberated and empowered to profoundly touch the lives of
Voices of Women in Gospel
36 . Schwerin 1992, 187.
37 . Dargan and Bullock 1989, 255.
. Ibid., 254.
1984 (1982).
41 . All of the above references to film content pertain to
1984 (1982).
42 . hooks 1994, 4.
43 . Grant 1989, 205.
Bradley, J. Robert.
I’ll Fly Away
. Nashboro 7139, 1974. LP.
Cleveland, Rev. James.
Gospel Workshop of America
Dorsey, Rev. Thomas A.
Precious Lord: The Great Gospel Songs of Thomas A. Dorsey
. Originally released by CBS
Records KG32151, 1973. Columbia/Legacy 57164, 1994. CD.
Dranes, Arizona.
Are All the Choir Directors Gay?
Black Mens Sexuality and Identity in Gospel Performance
Alisha Lola Jones
When I share with African American gospel enthusiasts that I research Black menÕs perfor-
mance of gender and sexuality in gospel music, the most frequent responses I receive are:
ÒWhy are there so many ÔeffeminateÕ men in music ministries? And why are so many choir
directors gay?Ó I often follow up with the questions: ÒIn what ways are they ÔeffeminateÕ?
choir directors are gay?Ó In their replies, Òchoir directorsÓ are
commonly described as male soloists and leaders who exhibit femininity. Enthusiasts use
coded descriptions of performance traits such as Òsinging high like a womanÓ or dancing
Òwith grace.Ó Explanations of Òsinging high like a womanÓ in solo gospel music perfor-
mance suggest that the higher vocal register is a womanÕs domain and men who traverse
into that vocal territory are queer. In one instance, I asked a male cleric to explain what
dancing Òwith graceÓ means. He replied, ÒI mean graceful like a woman. You know, the
smoothness and ß uidity in his hand gestures and his limp wrists.Ó When I countered with,
ÒAre women the only ones allowed to be graceful, smooth, or ß uid?Ó he had difÞ
formulating an answer.
In seeking clariÞ cation of meaning and assumptions embedded in the descriptions of
male vocalists and choir directors in African American churches, evidence suggests that
common perceptions are representative of an unstated but assumed masculine ideal. In
fact, respondents in my research population frequently suggest that African American
the socio-culturally developed male- or female-coded ways that individuals present their
Throughout my research in local and national gospel music scenes, gospel enthusiasts
often identify what they view as a cultural obsession with sexual and gender expression
among African American churchgoers. Despite this fact, these topics are often culturally
Alisha Lola Jones
Among some African American ChristiansÑoften members of socially conservative
congregationsÑgender identity is regularly an imagined and oppositional state of being
that bifurcates a spectrum of traits into masculine and feminine poles. Ideal masculinity
associated with worship in traditional African American churches. I conclude by exploring
Alisha Lola Jones
congregations. Male vocalists and preachers perform patriarchy within the churchesÕ gen-
dered and sexualized constructions of the meanings generated when men are heard and
observed as leaders in worship. As men interweave their most prominent liturgical roles of
singing and preaching, patriarchy is also socio-culturally inscribed and negotiated. How-
ever, it is important to note that men also perform on musical instruments, use their
bodies to dance, and move throughout traditional African American worship space in
ways that are socio-culturally gendered.
Given the centrality of music to African American religious and quotidian life, I am
drawn to the stereotypes of male musicians and the assumptions often made about their
identity that inß uence gospel music patronage, reception, and dissemination. I asked the
male participants in the A.M.E. MCAM Conference to describe the ideal models of mas-
culine worship leadership they sought when they looked for a church. They immediately
described the choir director/singer and the preacher as the paradigmatic facilitators of
the worship. The former was positively characterized as a worship leader, or a vessel,
while the latter was frequently imagined as a man of God or Òfather in the faith,Ó imag-
ery and terminology that associates divinity with paternalism. After further discussion,
respondentsÕ depictions revealed a Cartesian split that was associated with the symbolic
performance of these roles using intellectual attributes to describe the preacher and affec-
For example, preachers were often referred to as
ÒacademicÓ while singers were viewed as Òemotive.Ó When I asked if there were nega-
tive stereotypes of male choir director/singers and preachers, they raised the stereotype
of the choir director/singer as Òß aming,Ó on the Òdown low,Ó or Òboyish,Ó as indicated
by the popular term Òchoir boyÓÑa term which ridiculed male participants in the choir
by diminishing their manhood. Participants also talked about the perception of preach-
ers as adulterers or Òpulpit pimpsÓ
majority female congregations and draw offerings for their Þ nancial gain. There was little
speculative discussion among the workshop participants about other less-performative
ministry vocal or instrumental performance. Openly homosexual director of worship and
the arts at historical Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Tony McNeill
attested to assumptions that are tied to his music ministry role and principle instrument.
I think there is an automatic association of queerness and femininity with the [singing choir director] or
the choir director who plays the piano. And actually, these days there are more men who are directors
than there are women, but choir directing is still thought of as feminine. People rarely question if the bass
player, drummer, or Hammond B3 player are gayÑnot unless they have characteristics that are called into

The ÒautomaticÓ socio-cultural association of femininity with choir directing and piano
performance that McNeill has experienced is connected to womenÕs eligibility and shared
participation in these performance domains. McNeill was one of several African American
men who referred to himself as ÒhomosexualÓ to distinguish himself from the designa-
tion Ògay.Ó While some of the men did use the term Ògay,Ó it often registered for African
In my 2013 and 2015 interviews with Washingtonian music minister, choir director,
and self-described ÒbutchÓ homosexual man Charles Anthony Bryant, he reß ected on the
divergent morality codes he has experienced as a self-identiÞ
Alisha Lola Jones
the social meanings ascribed to male singers who comfortably sing high Òlike a woman.Ó
performances, which may evoke conversations about identity and sexuality. To cultivate
the fellowshipping community as a worship leader, he negotiated same-gender perfor-
mance interactions with other men. Bryant allowed the preacher to be the dominant
gure, while he maintained a submissive performance postureÑa stance that is often
Alisha Lola Jones
or not their assertion of orientation and identity is appropriateÑwhich distinguishes them
from women and homosexual men. Thus, they are reinscribed as dominant within the
power structure.
Sociologist and Baptist preacher Michael Eric Dyson recounts a service during
which a preacher delivered a sermon about the transformational power of God. The
guest preacher warned about the pitfalls of sex outside of marriage and proclaimed that
God can turn lust into love, thereby giving Christians a stronger relationship with God.
Alisha Lola Jones
and sexuality, unless they are keyboardists (musicians who play piano, synthesizer, and/or
organ) or they exhibit readily identiÞ
able queerness.
During my interviews, some musiciansÕ remarks revealed that when congregants
observed instrumentalistsÕ queer performance or which instrumentalists exhibited gender
their gender identity among other musicians. In fact, many men elect to compartmental-
ize their religious and social identities while leading worship or performing gospel music.
When social perceptions about the meaning of male musiciansÕ gender nonconforming
expression or sexual identity are discussed, comments often include euphemisms and vari-
ous forms of non-verbal communication through noticeable silence and gestures such as
lingering looks, raised eyebrows, and head tilts while observing performance and social
Alisha Lola Jones
on the Billboard Gospel Albums Chart and became involved in the development of the
Alisha Lola Jones
rming Ministries in San Francisco,
Alisha Lola Jones
prominent ministerial leadership post. The 2015 annual Hampton MinistersÕ Conference
and Choir DirectorsÕ and OrganistsÕ Guild
(hereafter referred to as The Hampton Min-
istersÕ Conference) came under Þ re by media and activists when Rev. Coates, the senior
pastor of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, MD, was released from the executive
As a candidate for lieutenant governor of Maryland, Coates had publicly sup-
ported marriage equality and LGBTQ rights.
He states:
I never saw pastors organizing around any other policy issues. I became concerned about the reduction

Although Coates had privately shared his views about Òlegislating moralityÓ with members
of the Hampton Executive Council, it was his public stance which proved most damaging.
The discourses surrounding CoatesÕ release fuels the perception that pastoral alliances
who would not enter the church otherwise. Instead of preaching to the proverbial choir

Alisha Lola Jones
ranks of historically African American Protestant congregations. While those gendered
and sexualized meanings are distributed, they are also challenged through performance
and everyday life.
I contend that what is at stake in Black menÕs performance of gender and sexuality is
not only the socio-cultural Þ ssures that widen in response to homophobic sentiments and
restrictions. What is also at stake are forms of misogyny in which congregants and gospel
19 . Halperin 2002, 27.
. Jones 2015.
21 . ÒChileÓ is a vernacular form of Òchild,Ó which is a term of endearment.
22 . Interview by the author with Patrick Dailey, November 2012.
23 . Interview by the author with Dr. Tony McNeill, July 2015.
24 . Interview by the author with Patrick Dailey, November 2012.
25 . Interview by the author with Charles Anthony Bryant, May 2013.
26 . DuBois 1903, 190.
27 . Mays and Nicholson 1933, 39.
28 . Wiggins 2005, 1.

. ÒGender Composition by Religious Group (2014),Ó accessed September 9, 2015, http://www.pewforum.
org/religious-landscape-study/gender-composition/ .
30 . Dyson 1996, 80.
. Ibid., 104Ð105.
. Blair 2015.
33 . Griffin 2006; Dyson 2009.
34 . Interview by the author with Josiah Woodson, September 6, 2015.
35 . Interview by the author with Charles Anthony Bryant, July 2015.
36 . Interview by the author with Dr. Tony McNeill, July 2015.
Alisha Lola Jones
Education in the South, the Southern Education Board, and the Cooperative Education Board sought to
strengthen churchesÕ community engagement. There were forty leaders from four denominations pres-
Women in Blues
Transgressing Boundaries
Daphne Duval Harrison
Spirituals, ragtime, blues, and jazz are the formidable creations of Black people who were
Daphne Duval Harrison
the music and musician have a ß uid relationship that constantly responds to these factors.
Ironically, the savagery of lynching, poverty, and racism that hindered opportunities for
Blacks to develop their own economic independence was the fertile ground from which
this unique song form developed.
Although women are not obviously present in many of the writings about this music,
their role has been signiÞ cant from the earliest days of its existence. There is no absolute
proof as to where, when, or by whom the blues were created, but there is evidence that
women were involved as singers as well as instrumentalists from its inception. Gertrude
Women in Blues: Transgressing Boundaries
The picnics, where the Þ
fe and drum and washboard bass provided the blues songs, hol-
lers, and religious and dance songs, were now held on crowded tenement stoops. Baptist,
Daphne Duval Harrison
and other circuits. The growing working and middle classes of Blacks began to rely on
the Black press for schedules and other information regarding plays, musical revues, and
, the Baltimore
, and other papers in the South and Midwest served as key sources.
The emerging Black community transplanted its southern, rural, and urban traditions
into a northern segregated city that had new opportunities linked with old prejudices and
Women in Blues: Transgressing Boundaries
example, when King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Alberta Hunter, and other ragtime and
honky-tonk musicians arrived in Chicago, the clubs, brothels, and gambling houses in the
SouthsideÕs red-light district were virtual replicas of the same types of White-controlled
areas of entertainment found in New Orleans and Memphis. The similarity of perfor-
mance venues and opportunities in the developing northern communities provided a
familiarity that was an attractive lure for young women. However, as the blues became
more widespread beyond its southern origins, the pathway to fame was rough, often lurid,
and exploitative for many of the women who sought careers as entertainers.
Piano rolls and recordings, such as those that featured Òcoon songs,Ó the comedy of Bert
Daphne Duval Harrison
or New York. The astonishing demand for blues records by women spawned careers for
Rainey were recorded for the Þ rst time, the former on the Columbia label and the latter
The commonality of experiences and family backgrounds of the women who chose careers
as blues singers suggests that the combination of talent and a desire to perform usually
outweighed the pressures for conformity to the mores and taboos of community and fam-
ily regarding a performing career. The power of the images promoted by the recording
industry and projected in the gorgeous photographs in Black newspapers, as well as the
perceived glamor of the life on the vaudeville stage, was a heady experience for young
women barely in their teens who sought to escape poverty and an uncertain future.
The style of blues sung by women reß ected the type of venue where they performed,
Record label from Crazy Blues.Ž
Courtesy Living Blues Collection, Blues Archive, J. D. Williams Library, University of Mississippi.
Women in Blues: Transgressing Boundaries
formative years. The minstrel, vaudeville, and medicine show circuit was the route to
stardom for Rainey, Bessie Smith, Lizzie Miles, ÒSippieÓ Wallace, Bertha ÒChippieÓ Hill,
Trixie Smith, and many others. Women typically performed with a band in traveling shows
such as the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, with a guitar or jug band in tent shows or picnics in
southern towns, or with a piano in saloons or at house parties.
Daphne Duval Harrison
ections that they employed expressed pain, anger, or joy in a manner that left no doubt
about the emotional content of the song. Their voices were the familiar ones heard in the
churches, picnics, and workplaces as folk expressed their spiritual joy, happiness, aches
and pains, and triumphs over injustice and adversity. Bessie SmithÕs superior talent lay in
her ability to draw the listener into the deepest realms of her feelings. She managed to
defy categorization because she could take any songÑblues or notÑand transport the
audience to her deepest level of anguish, anger, deÞ
ance, or lascivious audacity while
voices, such as Alberta Hunter, Edith Wilson, Mamie Smith, Lucille Hegamin, and
Women in Blues: Transgressing Boundaries
Sevens recordings. A practical beneÞ
t for women who accompanied themselves was the
ease in Þ nding short-term engagements in the tiny clubs and bars that were the usual
By 1930, more than one hundred Black women had recorded at least one blues song. The
much-diminished opportunities. The decline of the vaudeville circuit reduced stars like
Ma Rainey, who had once traveled in stylish trains or cars with her own band, to perform-
South. Nevertheless, blues women did not disappear from the musical landscape.
The same desires and ambitions that compelled the women of the 1920s to seek their
fame and fortune in the blues continued to attract girls to the scene in the South, West,
rst recording in 1929;
Lucille Bogan (a.k.a. Bertha Jackson); Mary Johnson, an exceptional honky-tonk pia-
nist; Alice Moore; Billie Hudson Pierce; and others were in the new wave of singers and
instrumentalists to take to the stage and recording studios. The Depression era may have
reduced the opportunities for stage shows and recordings, but the women continued to
sing as the radio, phonograph, and movies brought greater popularity and access to Black
Daphne Duval Harrison
innovative virtuoso on the electric guitar. Her singing and playing were powerful, and she
continually renewed her technique and her compositions through the years.
Other women were accomplished instrumentalists in the decades from the 1940s
through the present, but few were as versatile as Minnie. Hadda Brooks could arguably
be called a blues pianist, but she was an exceptional boogie-woogie pianist in the slow,
loping style similar to Cow-Cow Davenport. Brooks, Camille Howard, and Julia Lee were
Women in Blues: Transgressing Boundaries
Black women and children. It is powerful and poignant in its comparison of what Whites
gained from Black labor during World War I and the continued poverty that Blacks suf-
fered after the war ended.

Poor man fought all the battles, poor man would  ght again today (2X)

Now the war is over, poor man must live same as you,

Mr. Rich Man what would you do?

The tragic irony is that BessieÕs text dealt with a past event but forecast the same con-
ditions that Ida Cox would sing about in her Depression-era ÒPink Slip Blues,Ó referring
to the 1930s Works Project Administration:

’Cause a little white paper Uncle Sam has done addressed to me (2X)

It meant one more week, one week of prosperity.

But bad news got to spreading and my hair start to turning gray,

’Cause Uncle Sam started chopping, cutting thousands off the WPA.

What is remarkable about Cox, Wallace, Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Spivey is that they
could address the most pressing needs and concerns of Black women through their lyrics
and melodies. The tension found in most blues, though often masked by humorous lyrics,
Daphne Duval Harrison
decades. Their lyrics used color, weight (ÒI may be skinny,Ó or ÒIÕm a big fat mamaÓ),
Women in Blues: Transgressing Boundaries
guitar-picking styles, yodel-type vocals, and thumping four-beat rhythms of some of the

Daphne Duval Harrison
and ÒEvil Gal Blues.Ó FeatherÕs ÒBlow Top Blues,Ó on the Decca label, became one of
WashingtonÕs biggest hits; it was probably her most well-known recording.
WashingtonÕs career had the ups and downs that typiÞ ed the careers of many bluesÐpop
singers. Her temperament onstage and off mirrored the legendary accounts of Bessie
Smith, who had a reputation for cussing and Þ
ghting if someone crossed her. Neverthe-
Women in Blues: Transgressing Boundaries
ÒLittle EstherÓ Phillips was born in Texas but moved with her mother to the Watts
section of Los Angeles as a child. She sang in the SanctiÞ ed church and was discovered
by Johnny Otis when, at age thirteen, she won a talent show at the Largo Theatre.
rst recording with Otis was ÒDouble Crossing Blues,Ó a hit with Black teenagers. For-
tunately, Otis, a man of integrity, took a fatherly approach when she began touring with
Daphne Duval Harrison
boost on the blues circuit. By this time, she was an outstanding harmonica player and
occasionally played drums as well, but she never had another hit record.
One of Big MamaÕs Þ nal performances was at the 1979 San Francisco Blues Fes-
tival. Suffering from prolonged battles with addiction, she had to be helped on stage,
Women in Blues: Transgressing Boundaries
Junior Wells, in clubs, at dances, and at schools on the Southside of Chicago beginning
in 1953. Willie Dixon of Chess Records assisted Koko in recording the single ÒHonky
TonkyÓ on the minor US label in 1963, but it was 1964 when she made her debut record-
which launched her highly successful career. Her signature song, ÒWang Dang Doodle,Ó
followed as a million-record hit the next year.

TaylorÕs voice is strong and easily recognized by the power that seemingly could raise
a roof, but she lacks ß exibility in phrasing and range. Apparently, she never thought that a
woman had to sound any different than the shouters and down-home bluesmen she liked
so much. HowlinÕ Wolf, B. B. King, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Memphis
Minnie were the blues singers that she listened to and admired.
Partying White college students were particularly fond of TaylorÕs song ÒWang Dang
festival circuits in the United States and Europe. Her 1975 album
I Got What It Takes
the Alligator label, renewed her popularity; she and her band, the Blues Machine, have a
tight act that continues to draw crowds. Hers is electric blues at its best. Perhaps the most
Koko Taylor.
Courtesy Alligator Records.
Daphne Duval Harrison
poignant commentary regarding the Òstate of the bluesÓ comes from TaylorÕs assessment
of the contemporary blues audience, which is mainly White:
I consider myself a blues singer. I wouldnÕt be nothing else! . . . I have to sing the way I feel . . . but some
peoples. . . . Maybe they ainÕt really cut out to sing the blues, and some of Õem, they donÕt sing it because,
you know, originally this is a Negro inheritance, the blues, wherein theyÕve heard it so much in their life
Women in Blues: Transgressing Boundaries
15 . Harrison 1988, 71.
. Ibid., 72.
17 . Garon and Garon 1992, 155.
19 . ÒB.D.Ó is an abbreviation for Òbull dyke.Ó
20 . Titon 1994 (1977).
21 . Dixon and Snowden 1989, 81.
22 . See DjeDje and Meadows 1998, discussions in several chapters.
. Cantor 1992.
. As a contemporary of Thomas Dorsey, Martin was a seminal figure in the development and dissemination
of gospel music beginning in the 1930s. See Harris 1992, 256Ðff.
25 . Otis 1993, 91Ð98.
26 . For further discussion on James, see James and Ritz 1998; Joyce 2002. See also Otis 1993.
27 . Otis 1993, 91Ð98.
Jazz History Remix
Black Women from EnterŽ to CenterŽ
Sherrie Tucker
Do you know, in Bessie Smith’s time and all that, you don’t hear too much about the men.
They were piano players. But on stage it was the black
ÒInvisibilizeÓ is the eminently useful verb coined by Brenda Dixon Gottschild to
name those slippery processes where Òsins of omission and commissionÓ can be difÞ

To remove from or omit from ofÞ cial histories, thus obscuring the true role of certain groups.
From history books and textbooks to documentaries and record catalogs, jazz history
has been memorialized in ways that ÒinvisibilizeÓ women as productive cultural citi-

Despite evidence of jazzwomenÕs existence, the perception of jazz as a lineage of
male geniuses overshadows community efforts that included both men and women and
Sherrie Tucker
the Black press (which often paid more attention to women musicians than did the main-
stream news media and White-owned music magazines) and interviews with women
musicians who remembered themselves and other women in jazz history even if nobody
else did. Because previous historians werenÕt necessarily looking for women musicians, the
women-in-jazz historians not only had to incorporate overlooked sources, but also had
to carefully revisit traditional sources such as trade magazines (e.g.,
International Musician
Sherrie Tucker
tremendous inß uence on a generation of African American jazz musicians in Los Angeles,
but she and other teachers of jazz musicians are generally lost from our historical perspec-
Many women have also actively participated in jazz culture as fans and in family
and business partnerships. As Robin D. G. Kelley has pointed out, many spouses of jazz
musicians (including Nellie Monk and Gladys Hampton, married to Thelonius Monk and
brought employment for some White women musicians, while continuing the racist his-
tory of separate and unequal working conditions and opportunities for women of color.
Some Black women, including violinist Ginger Smock, appeared on short-lived television
shows in the early 1950s that failed to secure sponsorships. Only White women found
employment in the sponsored television programs built around the big bands led by Ina
Rae Hutton and Ada Leonard in the 1950s.

In the 1960s, some women participated in jazz ensembles associated with the cultural
responses to racism that continued during and after the Civil Rights Movement, with
Black Power, Afrocentrism, Cultural Nationalism, and Third World Liberation.
Sherrie Tucker
Pianist-harpist-percussionist-composer Alice McLeod Coltrane joined John Col-
traneÕs group in 1966.
Pianist-organist Amina Claudine Myers is among the women
who participated in the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM),
an organization devoted to supporting Black music and Black musicians in Chicago in the
The theatrical performance aspects of AACM groups such as the Art
Ensemble of Chicago also opened spaces of musical involvement for women who were
dancers, although these women, like so many other dancers from other jazz eras, are usu-
ally omitted from the story. Women jazz players also participated in cultural responses
to continued gender discrimination, through involvement in newly formed all-woman
bands, such as the Jazz Sisters and Maiden Voyage, and in womenÕs jazz festivals. The Þ
such event was held in Kansas City in March 1978, immediately followed by the Universal
rst annual Salute to Women in Jazz in New York. In the same year, Stash
Records reissued several collections of recordings featuring women in jazz historically.
I want to emphasize that it barely scratches the record.
My hope is that other researchers will be inspired by unanswered questions and underex-
plored areas of local research, as doorways to expand the historical record of jazz to hear
c, nuanced, changing, constitutive parts of the story. I share
some questions that arose for me as I conducted my research, in hopes that other scholars
Sherrie Tucker
nition of Òlady,Ó but would still be affected by contradictory and restrictive messages
about gender.
While it is a mistake to restrict a telling of early New Orleans jazz history to the
red-light district, many jazz history narratives are skewed in favor of this part of the story.
And indeed, it is another place that may provide instructive glimpses into diverse gender
systems and womenÕs participation in early New Orleans jazz. The gender ideology of
the day certainly did not tell women that it was ÒladylikeÓ to be prostitutes or madams,
Sherrie Tucker
Boys. According to the Black press and oral histories of musicians who remembered work-
ing with her, she eventually went back to Chicago, continuing a long career of working in
highly regarded menÕs and womenÕs bands.

Cooper, Snow, Dyer and Dolly Jones, and
what is considered ÒfeminineÓ or ÒmasculineÓ or ÒmusicalÓ will vary from context to con-
text. Jazz is not unique in this respect; many scholars study the ways that social categories
such as race and gender shape, and are shaped by, cultural performances. But neither is
Sherrie Tucker
23 . Tucker 2000, 322.
24 . See Berkman 2007, 2010; Kernodle 2010.
25 . See de Jong 2007; Lewis 2008, especially 459Ð480.
26 . For more on this period of historiography, see Rustin and Tucker 2008b, 10Ð16.
. Research on individual women jazz instrumentalists includes Dahl 1999 and Kernodle 2004 on Mary Lou
Williams; Brown 2006 and Miller 2007 on Valaida Snow (see also Allen 2005 for a fiction based on SnowÕs
life); and the articles in the special issue of
Black Music Research Journal
Monica Hairston OÕConnell. For an example of a local study that draws into relief the centrality of African

Jazz Women: Great Instrumental Gals
. Various artists. Universal Saga Jazz 42, 2003. CD.
Liston, Melba.
. Originally released 1958. Reissue, Fresh Sound 408, 2010. CD.

. Various artists. Apria Records, 2004. CD.
Snow, Valaida.
Valaida, Vol. 2: 1935–1940
. Harlequin HQCD 18, 1994. CD.
The Reception of Blackness
in Womens MusicŽ
Eileen M. Hayes

teen years have effaced a longer and deeper history of lesbian feminists and others
making music and producing concerts and festivals addressed primarily toward lesbian
audiences and consumers in the 1970s and decades following. This essay writes Black
women into that history as performers and as ÒwomenÕs musicÓ festival attendees. In
, I suggested that ÒwomenÕs musicÓ is less a type of music
bian, feminist politics and notions of community.
While the latter is true, in that these
music festivals still attract lesbian and queer women predominantly, the wider politi-
cal and social context for LGBT-related popular culture is signiÞ cantly different from
the cultural environment spawned three or more decades ago. While the differences
Blackness in Womens MusicŽ
ÒWomenÕs musicÓ emerged in the early 1970s as part of a subculture of lesbian
feminism. Proponents (Holly Near, Margie Adam, Chris Williamson, and Meg Chris-
tian, among others) described the emerging genre as Òmusic by women, for women
As womenÕs music festival historian Bonnie Morris writes, ÒFor
Eileen M. Hayes
camping gear, rainproof dome tents, down sleeping bags, and collapsible folding toi-
Blackness in Womens MusicŽ
Ultimately, this term reinforced the notion of the universal woman, ignoring the spe-
c ways that female-gendered experiencesÑincluding those of lesbian feministsÑwere
ected by race and class. Many feminists, including feminists of color, began to refer to
ed,Ó following Adrienne RichÕs sug-
Eileen M. Hayes
Blackness in Womens MusicŽ
ed as Òpolitical lesbians.Ó Reagon recalls that she found important congruencies
Eileen M. Hayes
Blackness in Womens MusicŽ
group, the Combahee River Collective. In 1977, this small group of African American
oppression as Blacks and as women.

Implicit in the term Òpolitical lesbianÓ was a call for the eradication of homopho-
bia and a rejection of lesbian separatism, because such a philosophy,
reads, Òleaves out far too many people, particularly black men, women, and
Eileen M. Hayes
In Process . . . is a seven-member a cappella ensemble in Washington, DC, founded
Blackness in Womens MusicŽ
Eileen M. Hayes
Blackness in Womens MusicŽ
protest and social conß
ict. In performances of social criticism, pan-Africanity is evident in
both musical style and thematic content; in the years leading up to the release of Nelson
Mandela from prison, anti-apartheid songs are the most prevalent among those referenc-
At the time of my research, proponents of women-identiÞ ed music seemed guided in
Ubaka Hill, artist, percussionist, and master drum teacher.
Courtesy Ubaka Hill.
Eileen M. Hayes
to the myriad styles of women-identiÞ ed music: feminismÕs concern with womenÕs agency,
cance of women loving women, and the primacy of females in womenÕs lives.
ed music revealed contested notions
of what a woman-identiÞ ed artist Òshould sound likeÓ based on her race, cultural heri-
tage, musical style, and acknowledged or rumored sexual identity. Performers, Black and
White, often thwart expectations of audience members seeking Òwomen-identiÞ
enacted on stage through mimesis, gesture, or sound. Black consumers, in particular, may
likewise be surprised when performances by Black artists fall outside those genres gener-
role in debates about Black identity. Discussions of Black identity have acknowledged the
paradox that arises as notions about Blackness, authenticity, and music coincide with and/
While the discourses of authenticity have obviously provided an important defense against a racist and
oppressive culture and served in shaping African American collective memory, they have also continued to
validate notions of difference that limits the extent of Black self-deÞ

Blackness in Womens MusicŽ
consumers did not indeed have a double standard for gender sensibilities evoked through
music performance and those evoked through the everyday life of the festival. Some fes-
tival attendees, for example, take advantage of the female-only environment to explore
more of the full range of gender expression, often to an extent greater than they would in
Eileen M. Hayes
womenÕs music will become more prominent as years go by. . . . Ten years from now, we
could have a whole slew of artists in the mainstream.Ó

facilitated the revision of this essay.
1 . Hayes 2010, 1
2 . See Penelope and Wolfe 1993, 392Ð402.
3 . See Armstrong 1989, 17.
4 . Morris 1999, 3.
5 . See Lont 1992, 245.
7 . Kahn 1995, 5.
8 . Faderman 1991, 222.
9 . Morris 1999, 156.
. Ibid., 5.
. Ibid., 6.
12 . Post 1997, 218.
. Rich 1993.
14 . See Kate BrandtÕs interview with Toni Armstrong in Armstrong 1993.
15 . Interview by the author, with Kay Young, Michigan WomynÕs Music Festival, 1995.

. See
identified/ (accessed July 8, 2016); Darty and Potter 1984; Rich 1993.
17 . Reagon 1993, 13.
18 . See Giddings 1984, 282.
. Ibid., 293.
20 . Reagon 1993, 16.
. Ibid., 18.
Blackness in Womens MusicŽ
. Maidenrock Records deidre4, 2005. CD.
Mz. Fishe.
Randle, Vicki.
. Wolf Moon Records, 65410, 2006. CD.
Reagon, Toshi.
. Razor & Tie Entertainment 82839, 1999. CD.
Eileen M. Hayes
Sacred Ground
. Earthbeat/Warner Bros. 42580, 1995. CD.
Women Gather
. EarthBeat! 73829, 2003. CD.
Raise Your Voice
. EarthBeat! 76422, 2005. CD.
. . .Twenty-Five . . .
. Rykodisc, 2006. CD.
. Appleseed Records APRCD 1104, 2007. CD.
Tribute: Live! Jazz at Lincoln Center
. Appleseed Records 1134, 2013. CD.
. Appleseed Recordings/Red House APRCD 1140, 2015. CD.
Tillery, Linda, and the Cultural Heritage Choir.
Front Porch Music
Still We Sing, Still We Rise
The Washington Sisters.
. Originally released 1987. Shsawa 221, 1997. CD.
Take Two
. Originally released 1991. Ladyslipper SHS222, reissue date unknown. CD.
African American Women and
the Dynamics of Gender, Race,
Maureen Mahon
Although the prevailing tendency is to associate rock music with White practitioners and
audiences, Black women have had a continuous and inß uential presence in the genre since
its inception in the 1950s. Attention to their participation challenges some of the funda-
mental assumptions about rock and African American womenÕs cultural production. An
understanding of the race, gender, and power dynamics of the music industry, particularly
the race-based genre deÞ
nitions and the industryÕs habitual marginalization of women, is
necessary to appreciate the treacherous environment in which Black women were working
to advance their creative vision. The tendency has been to view Black women in rock as

but in this article I treat African American women as an inextricable part of
rock and demonstrate that the form as we know it would not exist without them.
There are many familiar Black female contributions to rock. In 1956, Elvis Presley
had a hit with his cover of Willie Mae ÒBig MamaÓ ThorntonÕs ÒHound DogÓ (1953),
borrowing ThorntonÕs forceful vocal style and swagger to craft his rendition of the song.
An African American woman named Dorothy La Bostrie wrote the lyrics for Little Rich-
ardÕs hit ÒTutti FruttiÓ (1955). While on a UK tour with the Rolling Stones in the 1960s,
Tina Turner taught Mick Jagger how to dance the Pony; he and singer Rod Stewart
incorporated TurnerÕs vocal style into their performances. In the years before they were
writing their own material, the Beatles performed hits of Black American girl groups
Maureen Mahon

rockers Led Zeppelin covered Memphis MinnieÕs ÒWhen the Levee Breaks.Ó Memphis
Minnie, a rare female instrumentalist working in the blues vernacular, developed a guitar
style that, through her presence at the Chess Records studios in the 1950s, inß
Chuck Berry, among others.

Women in Rock n Roll
the genre remained rooted in African American music traditions; it drew heavily on the
ections, linguistic choices, and body movements of African Ameri-
can performers. Over the years, this Blackness has been recoded and naturalized as White
rock ÕnÕ roll attitudeÑa blend of the rebelliousness, sexuality, and cool that Black Ameri-
cans often represent. This process enabled Black-identiÞ
ed rock ÕnÕ roll of the 1950s to
ed Òrock.Ó
Maureen Mahon
ne rock ÕnÕ roll, and continue
to reverberate in rock.
Like many of the Black women who have participated in commercial popular music
over the years, Ruth Brown began singing in the church, but switched to a secular rep-
ertoire. Her voice was compelling enough to win contests, secure performance dates,
Women in Rock n Roll
preferred to sing and had her record songs that Brown describes as being Òdifferent
rhythmically from what I was intoÓ and as being Òa step ahead of the accepted sound
of the day.Ó

This new rhythm, which had been created by African American songwriter and
arranger Jesse Stone, and BrownÕs approach to it, turned out to be the keys to chart
Starting in October 1950 with ÒSo Long,Ó Brown released a string of songs
magazineÕs rhythm and blues chart. During the early
1950s, the newly dubbed ÒMiss RhythmÓ enjoyed consistent chart and touring success.
uential Þ
gures in the developing rhythm and blues
genre and one of the principal architects of rock ÕnÕ roll. Her distinctive squeal shaped the
sound that a generation of Americans grew up listening to. Little Richard credits Brown
with inß uencing his inß ection. Referring to one of his most popular songs, he explains,
ÕÑI got that from Ruth Brown. I used to like
friends who helped them with their makeup, hair, and clothing. These men deployed a
level of theatricality and exaggeration that was invaluable to artists seeking to distinguish
themselves onstage in a growing Þ eld of performers.
Maureen Mahon
cultivating a deÞ ant look with a Òsleazy edge.Ó

With her impish smile, blonde hair, and
Women in Rock n Roll
appearance (she usually wore evening gowns when she performed), the categorization
(and dismissal) of her hits ÒTweedlee Dee,Ó ÒJim Dandy,Ó and ÒBop-Ting-A-LingÓ
(1955) as Ònovelty songs,Ó and her race and gender, have made it difÞ cult to see her
as a player in the rock ÕnÕ roll Þ
In contrast, Tina Turner, who, with Ike Turner, was inducted into the Rock ÕnÕ Roll
Hall of Fame in the same year as Baker, has a widely recognized connection to rock and
is a hard-to-challenge contender for title of the Queen of Rock. With a career spanning
the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, TurnerÕs longevity is remarkable for any performer
in pop music, a medium built on planned obsolescence. Born Anna Mae Bullock and
renamed Tina Turner by bandleader Ike Turner even before they married, she began
to sing in the gritty, sexy rhythm and blues style for which she has become famous.
Her short skirts and high heels accentuated her fabulous legs and helped her create
a sexually enticing onstage persona. WigsÑa solution to a catastrophic attempt to go
Maureen Mahon
The intersection of race and economics, what I have elsewhere called the Òracialized
political economyÓ of the US recording industry, played a decisive role in the careers
of early rock ÕnÕ rollers and continues to shape the experiences of African American

nancial practices of the industry put record-
ing artists at an economic disadvantage, even when they were earning money for
their labels. For example, Ruth Brown contributed signiÞ cantly to the rise of Atlantic
Records. She recorded the young labelÕs Þ
rst #1 hit and Atlantic is commonly referred
to as ÒThe House that Ruth Built.Ó But Brown received comparatively little Þ
recompense from Atlantic.

Like most other rhythm and blues artists, and indeed
many White artists, working during this period, Brown was paid a standard ß
at rate
for recording; she was also billed for studio costs and musiciansÕ fees. This system
essentially charged performers to make the records that the labels sold and proÞ
from. Rhythm and blues artists in this period made their money through touring, an
enterprise that they had to manage and support on their own.
Although artists were
Women in Rock n Roll

based its pop chart on mainstream radio playlists, while its rhythm and
blues chart was based on the records played on the tiny number of stations that served
Black audiences. Black rhythm and blues artists struggled to have songs ÒcrossoverÓ to
Maureen Mahon
The racialized genres, the segregation of radio stations and music charts, and the
practice of covers marginalized African American artists from rock ÕnÕ roll, denying them
recognition and compensation for their contributions to the form they had originated.
By the late 1950s, the most prominent male rockers had gone underground: Elvis
Presley was in the army, Jerry Lee Lewis was ostracized by the press for marrying his
Women in Rock n Roll
nine million records,
with a string of successful singles that included ÒDedicated to
the One I LoveÓ (1961), ÒMama SaidÓ (1961), ÒBaby, ItÕs YouÓ (1962), a Top Ten
hit on both the pop and R&B charts, and ÒSoldier BoyÓ (1962), a #1 pop hit and their
biggest selling record.
Maureen Mahon
They were eventually hired to dance in the club, quickly became a celebrated Þ
xture, and
were soon on the path that led them to work with the brilliant and eccentric White rock
Women in Rock n Roll
members neither played instruments nor wrote the songs they sang, are often marginal-
ized in accounts of the musicÕs history even though in the early 1960s they were the heart
and soul of rock ÕnÕ roll.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, African American women had a muted but impor-
tant presence in rock ÕnÕ roll as backup singers.
In her history of women in rock, Gerri
Hirshey describes the backup singer as Òthe Unknown Stalwart of rock and rollÓ and
asserts, Òwithout her, there would be no rock and roll.Ó

Never ofÞ cially members of
Maureen Mahon
attention to themselves, but working in the background, they carved an uncontested
place for themselves in rock.
As the 1960s gave way to a new decade, African American women performers tapped into
the zeitgeist of racial, gender, and sexual liberation, added their own spin, and produced
notably forward-looking rock ÕnÕ roll performances. The group LaBelle and the solo artist
Women in Rock n Roll
Mixing the emotive stylistics of gospel performance with the exaggerated stage shows of
early seventies hard rock acts, LaBelle became a cult favorite among the musical cogno-
The very creativity that made them such a compelling live act caused confusion for
music industry professionals and radio programmers. Cross-cutting genres of rock, funk,
rhythm and blues, gospel, and dance, LaBelle pursued a glam and glitter vision through
a mix of original songs, most of which were penned by Nona Hendryx, and covers rang-
ing from an inventive take on Gil Scott-HeronÕs spoken-word Black-Power litany ÒThe
Revolution Will Not Be TelevisedÓ (1973) to British band The WhoÕs anthem ÒWonÕt
Maureen Mahon
and the Family Stone), guitarist Neal Schon, who went on to play with Journey, horn
players from Tower of Power, and the Pointer Sisters and future disco star Sylvester
as backup singers. Davis dispensed with the gospel-rooted sound typically associated
Women in Rock n Roll
ways commercial media images of femininity dragged women into a losing cycle of
expectations about how one should look and feel. The Þ rst prominent front-woman
of the punk era in England, Poly Styrene inspired her contemporaries, demonstrated
that women could be punk rockers, and inß uenced the next generation of punk rock
women, especially Riot Grrrl bands, the loosely constituted movement of female-led,
hard-driving rock bands of the early 1990s.
Maureen Mahon
1 . Jones 1992, 7Ð8, 10Ð11, 15, 22.
. In turn, LaBelleÕs song ÒNightbirdsÓ is a tribute to Joplin; see Gaar 2002, 165. Joplin had a deep respect
for Black musicians and contributing to the purchase of a tombstone for one of AmericaÕs greatest artists
was a way for her to publicly and personally acknowledge Bessie SmithÕs importance both to Joplin and
music history. See Echols 1999, 236Ð237.
3 . Garon and Garon 1992, 4.
. Wald 2007.
5 . Guralnick 1994, 501.
6 . See Monson 1995.
7 . Gaar 2002, 93.
8 . Brown and Yule 1996, 60.
. Ibid., 62Ð63.
Women in Rock n Roll
Aint Nuthin but a She ThangŽ
Women in Hip Hop
Cheryl L. Keyes
Hip hop emerged among Black and Latino youth in New York City around the early
1970s. It is deÞ ned by its adherents as a youth arts movement comprised of four
elementsÑbreakdancing (b-boying/b-girling), grafÞ
ti (writing), disc jockeying (DJing),
and emceeing (MCing)Ñand as an expression distinguished by distinct forms of dress,
Women in Hip Hop
images of women, who appear in numerous hip hop music videos and who are, for the
most part, of African descent. In stark contrast, however, to this one-dimensional stereo-
typed image and the dwindling number of female MCs, women have been major forces of
hip hop in diverse ways, though rarely acknowledged.
This essay provides an overview of women in hip hop music and their prominence as
performing artists and as movers and shakers in the boardroom and behind the camera
in the shaping of this tradition. SpeciÞ c attention is given to the conception of a female
performative identity and a female sensibility in rap music performance. The following
section begins as an overview of women who have pioneered the early development of
Wreckin the Mic
During the pre-commercial years of hip hop, artists received token remuneration for their
performances. Reputation among peers as the best MC or DJ on the neighborhood block
took precedence over making money. MCs, for example, were expected to have a voice
resembling that of Black radio personality disc jockeys with an ability to produce superb
and highest quality sound system. The typical hip hop ÒjamÓ (dance party/gathering)
convened in outdoor contexts where
people used to do jams in the schoolyard or handball court. Someone used to bring their two turntables
out and plug it into the lamp post outside and thatÕs how they got their power. People would listen and
Cheryl L. Keyes
the foundation for other all-female crew contemporaries such as the Mellow-D crew with
Missy Dee, Lady T, Apple-C, and Easy K; the Choice Girls with Lady T; and the Cheba

The majority of female hip hop artists during the pioneering years, however, enjoyed
tremendous success with male-dominated crews. As part of a male collective, they gained
respect, acceptance, and equal footing in the rap music game by demonstrating their abili-
ties at wreckinÕ the microphone as ÒhardÓ (aggressive) as and with a ß
ow indistinguishable
from their male cohorts. Such visibility among these early female artists made it possible
for other women to enter the rap music stage alongside male artists. Sha-Rock is recog-
nized as the Þ rst female MC in the history of hip hop.
Sha-Rock began her career with the crew Funky
Four around 1976. Originating in the Bronx, Funky Four included KK Rockwell, Keith,
Rahiem, and Sha-Rock. The crew consisted also of two DJs, Baron and Breakout, known
as Sasquatch because of their massive sound system. Eventually, the groupÕs personnel
changed when Sha-Rock temporarily left the crew and Rahiem joined Grandmaster Flash
and his MCs. They were replaced by two MCs, LilÕ Rodney C and Jazzy Jeff (not to be
Women in Hip Hop
Cheryl L. Keyes
Other pioneering female MCs recorded by Winley included Queen Lisa Lee of the
Cosmic Force. She launched her MC career with the Zulu Nation, created by hip hopÕs
DJ-visionary Afrika Bambaataa. Members of the Zulu Nation, addressed as Shaka Kings
Women in Hip Hop
of Cheryl the Pearl, Angie B (a.k.a. Angie Stone), and Blondie, The SequenceÕs most
memorable single was ÒFunk You UpÓ (1981).
While the soundtracks for Sugar HillÕs acts were mainly produced by the labelÕs house
band rather than by a DJ, Sugar Hill Records goes down in history as the Þ
rst success-
Cheryl L. Keyes
genres were experimenting with rap music. Most notably was BlondieÕs hit single ÒRap-
tureÓ (Chrysalis, 1981) featuring lead singer Deborah Harry. Midway through the song,
Harry performed a rap, which references DJ Grandmaster Flash. BlondieÕs ÒRaptureÓ was
certiÞ ed as a gold record within months of its release.
By 1983, the Þ rst hip hop Þ
Wild Style
by Charles Ahearn, produced by Harry
Belafonte, was released. Now considered a cult classic,
Wild Style
showcases hip hop arts and artists including Fab Five Freddy, Cold Crush Brothers, Busy
Bee, Lisa Lee, and grafÞ ti artist Lady Pink, to name a few. Other hip hop Þ
lms followed
Style Wars
Women in Hip Hop
Ironically, the Roxanne Wars began with Adelaide ÒRoxanneÓ Martinez, who immor-
talized a Roxanne persona, a snobbish female character, in her video stage performance
of ÒRoxanne, RoxanneÓ (Select, 1984) produced by UTFO and hip hop doo-wop group
Full Force.
Capitalizing on the success of ÒRoxanne, Roxanne,Ó Marley Marl of the Juice
Crew provided similar beats from UTFOÕs Roxanne recording for Roxanne ShantŽ
to rap to. Her Roxanne song, ÒRoxanneÕs RevengeÓ (Pro Arts, 1984) emerged as
Cheryl L. Keyes
empowerment, (inner-city) community issues, and spirituality. They recognize them-
selves as African, woman, warrior, priestess, Nubian Queen, or simply queen, and,
as such, identify with a subgenre of hip hop artists called Ònation consciousÓ hip
hop. Although the term ÒQueenÓ was initially used in hip hop as a moniker for
women who were members of Afrika BambaataaÕs Zulu Nation (e.g., Queen Lisa
Lee and Queen Kenya), Dana ÒQueen LatifahÓ Owens brought the designation to
global heights. Latifah, whose translation from Arabic means Òfeminine, delicate, and
kind,Ó explains that her Muslim cousin assigned her the name Latifah when she was

Queen Latifah launched her recording career through the release of 12-inch sin-
gles on Tommy Boy Records, ÒPrincess of the PosseÓ and ÒWrath of My MadnessÓ
(1989). Produced by DJ
rmly established Queen LatifahÕs regal pres-
ence. This album is considered a landmark in hip hop because of its politically-charged
Afrocentric pro-woman statement with songs such as ÒLadies First,Ó which introduced
London-based MC Monie Love. The refrain of ÒLadies FirstÓ was performed by an
ensemble of female MCsÑMs. Melodie, Ice Cream Tee, and Shelly ThunderÑsinging
ÒOoo, ladies Þ rst . . .Ó
The video version conveys an alternative meaning to hip hop
sisterhood, empowerment, and socio-politically charged statements with the superim-
position of live footage of South AfricaÕs anti-apartheid riots and photographic stills of
Women in Hip Hop
Nonchalant (from Washington, DC); and Lady Mecca (formerly known as Ladybug
Cheryl L. Keyes
Fly Girl
The concept of Òß ynessÓ in the hip hop community derives from The Boogie BoysÕ
commercial recording ÒA Fly GirlÓ (1985) and its answer rap, ÒA Fly GuyÓ (1985), by
y girl as a woman Òwho
ÓÞ tting jeans, leather
miniskirts, and abundant gold jewelry; showcases her Òvoluptuous curves,Ó or full-Þ
physique; and also speaks her mind. However, the act that canonized the hip hop ß
y girl
look in the golden age of hip hop was Salt-N-Pepa. Originating in Queens, New York,
Salt-N-Pepa, composed of Cheryl ÒSaltÓ James and Sandra ÒPepaÓ Denton, began their
Women in Hip Hop
and survival. Of the seventeen tracks of
Cheryl L. Keyes
(LivinÕ Large/Tommy Boy, 1992). MC
Lyte also represents the sista with attitude image. While she does not directly refer to
herself as a ÒbitchÓ in her lyrics, Lyte was well respected for her no-nonsense attitude
and hard-hitting lyrical style intensiÞ
ed via boisterous speech. She ß aunts her rhym-
ing skill in a quasi-raspy vocal timbre, which she characterizes as Òquick, wicked, and
She is mostly remembered as the Þ rst female MC to project, in a com-
mercial sense, a feminist stance as captured in the singles ÒI Cram to Understand U
(Sam)Ó and ÒPaper ThinÓ from her debut album,
Lyte as a Rock
(First Priority Music,
1988), which reportedly Òsold seventy-Þ ve thousand copies in a month with virtually
no airplay.Ó
In these songs, MC Lyte chides Sam, a Þ ctive boyfriend character, for
carousing with other women as her statement of female empowerment over a con-
niving man. What is also noteworthy is how MC Lyte appears on her debut album
where they were perceived by critics as hip hop bad girls, Òmack divas,Ó or ÒThelma and
Furthermore, Brown, whose name is derived from actress Pam GrierÕs
Women in Hip Hop
The ÒqueeringÓ of mainstream hip hop was nonexistent during hip hopÕs golden age.
Cheryl L. Keyes
Women in Hip Hop
premiere magazine,
The Source
; Julia Beverly, founder of
, the Þ rst nationally success-
ful hip hopÐbased magazine that proÞ les hip hop acts from the ÒDirty SouthÓ (southern
Cheryl L. Keyes
New York CityÕs underground scene during the mid-1990s. Followed by her single ÒLove
SongÓ (Third Earth Music, 2002), GraeÕs rise to prominence as a solo artist matured
when she joined forces with Talib Kweli on his label Blue Sky Black Death to record her
, in 2008.
M.I.A. (Missing In Action), a Sri Lankan MC from London, England, combines
a chanted MC style with a British accent/dance hall sound over an electronica-driven
soundtrack, as heard in her underground hit single, ÒGalangÓ (XL/Interscope, 2003).
Women in Hip Hop
gures as Salome of Iran and Shadia Mansour of Palestinian descent, for example,
create lyrics that protest and denounce the sexism and oppression in their native countries,
whereas others, like Canadian artist Honey Cocaine of Cambodian descent and German
emcee Azize-A of Turkish descent, exploit braggadocio as they address socio-political
concerns. As hip hop continues to expand its roster to include female MCs from across
the globe, the template from which these artists create and shape their expressive per-
Cheryl L. Keyes
9 . DJ Scientist 2008, 43.
. Darryl ÒD.M.C.Ó McDaniels comments about Sha-Rock in ÒDMC of Run-DMC Speaks on Sha-Rock of
the Funky 4+1s Influence on His Emceeing,Ó YouTube, posted March 8, 2011, accessed August 7, 2014, In the interview, D.M.C. goes on to call Sha-Rock an original [hip
hop] icon. See also Sha-RockÕs autobiography in Johnson and Brown 2011.
. DJ Kool Herc (also known as Kool DJ Herc) is considered a major pioneer of hip hop sound production
concept. He began DJing parties in the Bronx like others. But unlike contemporary party DJs who would
Women in Hip Hop
. Albums of these artists are as follows:
(Sick Wid It, 2003) and
(Sick Wid It,
1995) by Suga-T;
Cheryl L. Keyes
. At the ÒFeminism and Hip Hop ConferenceÓ (2005), Osorio mentioned the discriminatory treatment
The Source
Opportunity Commission (EEOC). While the court did not find the magazine culpable of harassment or
Women in Hip Hop
LilÕ Kim.
Hard Core
. Originally released 1996. Big Beat/Undeas Recordings 92746, 1998. CD.
MC Lyte.
Lyte as a Rock
. Originally released 1988. Elektra/Rhino, 2002. Digital.
. Originally released 1993. Includes ÒIf ThatÕs Your Boyfriend
(He WasnÕt Last Night).Ó Sire 9362457542, 1994. CD.
. Originally released 2004. Interscope/XL/XL/Interscope, 2006. Digital.
Missy Elliott.
. Originally released 1997. ATG/Atlantic, 2009. Digital.
Da Real World
. Originally released 1999. ATG/Atlantic/Atlantic/Atg, 2009. Digital.
Ms. Melodie.
. Jive 1210Ð2-J13, 1989. CD.
Nicky Minaj.
. Originally released 2010. Universal Distribution, 2011. Digital.
Queen Latifah.
. Originally released 1989. Rhino, 2013. Digital.
Nature of a Sista
. Originally released 1991. CollectorsÕ Choice Music CCM 07262, 2007. CD.
. Originally released 1993. Universal Music 5302722, 1994. CD.
Queen Pen.
My Melody.
Interscope, 1997. Digital.
Roxanne ShantŽ.
LivinÕ Large Records 3001, 1992. CD.
Bad Sister.
Originally released 1989. Cold ChillinÕ TEG77514Ð2, 2010. CD.
Hot, Cool & Vicious
. Originally released 1986. Def Jam /Island/Island/Def Jam, 1992. Digital.
. Def Jam /Island/Island/Def Jam, 1990. Digital.
Sugarhill Gang
. Originally released 1980. Rhino, 2012. Digital.
Ooooooohhh . . . On the TLC Tip
. Originally released 1992. LaFace 26003, 2009. CD.
. Originally released 1994. BMG 37780, 2006. CD.
The 2 Live Crew.
As Nasty as they Wanna Be
. Originally released 1989. Luke Records 91651Ð2, reissue date
. Originally released 2000. Slip-N-Slide, 2005. Digital.

World Premiere, Vol. 1
. Various artists, including Roxanne ShantŽ and Salt-N-Pepa, among others. Pop Art
Make Way for the Motherlode
. EastWest 7567916052, 1991. CD.
Musical Agency„African
The Antebellum Period
Communal Coherence and Individual Expression
Lawrence W. Levine
It would distort African American music to argue that it has functioned primarily or even
largely as a forum for protest. Black Americans have not spent all of their time reacting
to the Whites around them, and their songs are Þ
lled with comments on all aspects of
life. But it would be an even greater distortion to assume that a people occupying the
Lawrence W. Levine
behavior patterns were sufÞ ciently different to be labeled ÒprimitiveÓ or Òchildlike.Ó With
such important exceptions as the suppression of the drums that had been so central in
African music, White masters had an unspoken and perhaps unconscious urge to allow
African Americans to stew in their own cultural juices. Slave dancingÑwhich was incor-
porated into all aspects of slavesÕ music including the religious ÒshoutÓÑconstitutes an
excellent example. With its openly African style of gliding, dragging steps, ß
exed, ß uid
bodily position, propulsive rhythm, and concentration upon movement outward from the
pelvic region, which many ministers decried as lewd, slave dance was tolerated and even
encouraged by a substantial number of masters, as were many of the other distinctive
musical practices of the slaves ( Figure 19.1 ).

were open to them and how little the White world offered but the certainty of arbitrary and
orously in the hominy mill to keep the slavesÕ movements synchronized with the whirling
stone, and sung Òslowly and mournfullyÓ in the slave quarters at night.

Spirituals also testify to the continuation of a strong sense of community. The over-
riding antiphonal structure of the spiritualsÑthe call-and-response pattern that Blacks
brought with them from Africa and that may have been reinforced in America by the
practice of lining out hymnsÑplaced individuals in continual dialogue with each other.
the promised land IÕm bound to go,Ó ÒI walk de heavenly road,Ó and ÒIÕll hear the trum-
Lawrence W. Levine
through faith. Slaves made it clear that these Old Testament stories had contemporary
meaning for them. ÒO my Lord delivered Daniel,Ó they sang, and responded logically:
ÒO why not deliver me, too?Ó Slaves rehearsed the triumphs of the Hebrew Children in
verse after verse, concluding each with the comforting thought: ÒAnd the God dat lived
in MosesÕ [DanÕelÕs, DavidÕs] time is jusÕ de same today.Ó The Òmighty rocky roadÓ that
ÒI must travel,Ó they insisted, is ÒDe rough, rocky road what Moses done travel.Ó
the heroes they celebrated, the slaves too reached beyond the bonds that conÞ
ned them.
ÒWeÕll cross de mighty river,Ó his Black troops sang
while marching or rowing,

We’ll cross de danger water,
. . .

O Pharaoh’s army drownded!

My army cross over
But they also found their less overtly militant songs quite as appropriate to
warfare. In their most popular marching song they sang: ÒJesus call you. Go in de
wilderness/To wait upon de Lord.Ó Black Union soldiers found it no more incongru-
ght for freedom with the sacred songs of their bondage than
they had found it inappropriate as slaves to sing their spirituals while picking cotton
or shucking corn. Their religious songs, like their religion itself, was of this world as

Such uses of sacred music in Black culture never disappeared, and during the Civil
Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s they were revived. While spirituals may have
dominated slave life quantitatively and qualitatively,
striking diversity of songs and dances that were frequently used for purposes quite similar
to those of sacred songs. In their tales, Blacks spoke of how they used their music to dupe
Whites. In one popular story, a master dropped in on his slave to hear him play the Þ
The slave, fearful that his master would see the leg of a stolen pig sticking out from under
his bed, sang: ÒDing-Ding a DingyÑOld Lady put the pigÕs foot further on the bed.Ó His
wife walked to the bed while harmonizing, ÒUmmmmmmmmm,Ó and jerked the cover
down over the pigÕs foot. ÒYessir, thatÕs a new one,Ó the master said, delighting in the
improvised song. ÒYessir, thatÕs a new one.Ó

ness. In 1774, an English visitor, after his Þ
rst encounter with slave music, wrote in his
journal: ÒIn their songs they generally relate the usage they have received from their Mas-
ters or Mistresses in a very satirical stile [
] and manner.Ó
Florida during the 1830s, a White passenger on a boat propelled by Òa dozen stout negro
sic ] rowersÓ described how the boatmen timed their oars by singing songs Òfull of rude
witÓ that satirized everyone on board, Blacks and Whites alike.
Lawrence W. Levine


Abram Harris remembered a satirical song sung by himself and his fellow slaves that
became part of the minstrel stage and remained part of the Black folk repertory until the
Lawrence W. Levine
The steel driver John Henry was probably the Þ rst, and without question the most
popular, hero Þ gure of this type. Songs celebrating his exploits were already widespread in
the early 1880s and continued to be sung well into the next century. Fundamental to an
understanding of John HenryÕs signiÞ
cance is the economic plight of Black farmers and
Lawrence W. Levine
heroes as John Henry, represented a major degree of acculturation to the individualized
happened in their everyday ÒtrivialÓ affairs, what took place within themÑtheir yearnings,
their problems, their frustrations, their dreamsÑwere important, were worth taking note
of and sharing in song. Stressing individual expression and communal coherence at one
and the same time, the blues was an inward-looking music that insisted upon the signiÞ
cance of Black lives. In these respects it was not only the more obviously angry work songs
but the blues as well that were subversive of the American racial order and proved to be
an important portent of what was to come in a very few decades.
. Ravenel 1936, 768Ð769; Latrobe 1951, 49Ð51, contain descriptions of slave dance by White contempo-
raries. The WPA Slave Narratives, available at the Library of Congress, are filled with testimony concerning
dance by former slaves.
2 . ÒSongs of the BlacksÓ 1856, 51Ð52.
3 . McKim 1862, 255.
. These lines were ubiquitous. For these and other examples, see Fenner 1909 (1874), 10Ð11, 48; Allen,
Ware, and Garrison 1951 (1867), 7, 13, 58, 77, 104; Higginson 1962 (1869), 206, 16Ð17; Marsh 1971
. For these and other examples, see Barton 1899, 19, 30; Allen, Ware, and Garrison 1951 (1867), 2, 7, 15,
6 . Yoder 1961, 54Ð55.
Lawrence W. Levine
33 . Lomax 1948, 42.
34 . Jackson 1972, xxiÐxxii, 25Ð27.
. All of the John Henry lyrics quoted here come from the hundreds of variants in Johnson 1929, Chaps.
36 . See Levine 1977, 420Ð440.
37 . Niles 1926, 292.
. Bessie Smith, ÒYoung WomanÕs Blues,Ó
(Columbia Records G3
39 . Handy 1926, 13.
. Examples can be found in Bessie Smith, ÒPoor ManÕs Blues,Ó
Records G3 0450); Charley Patton, ÒGreen River Blues,Ó
The Immortal Charley Patton
Library recording OJL-1); Oliver 1960, 51; Charters 1963, 67Ð68; Sackheim 1969, 135.
Carawan, Guy.
Been in the Storm So Long
. Originally released 1967. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

. Various artists. Smithsonian Records 3840, 2012. CD.
Slave Shout Songs from the Coast of Georgia
. Smithsonian Records 4344, 2012.

Various artists. Smithsonian Records 2691,

. Various artists. Originally recorded 1941Ð1942. Rounder Select/Rounder 1501,

Ring Games: Line Games and Play Party Songs of Alabama
. Various artists. Smithsonian Records 7004, 2012.

. Various artists. Originally released 1977. New World Records 80252Ð2, reissue date
Do Your Duty: The Essential Recordings of Bessie Smith
Blues,Ó parts 1 and 2, and others. Recorded February 16, 1923ÐMay 15, 1929. Indigo 2008, 1997. CD.
The Civil Rights Period
Music as an Agent of Social Change
Bernice Johnson Reagon
Beginning with the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955,
Bernice Johnson Reagon
of communication were ineffective. It was the Þ rst time that I experienced the full power of
song as an instrument for the articulation of our community concerns. In Dawson, Georgia,
where Blacks made up 75 percent of the population, I sat in a church and felt the chill that ran
through a small gathering when the sheriff and his deputies walked in. They stood at the door,
making sure everyone knew they were there. Then a song began. And the song made sure that
the sheriff and his deputies knew
were there. We became visible; our image of ourselves was
enlarged when the sounds of the freedom songs Þ lled all the space in that church.
Music has always been integral to the African American struggle for freedom. Its
central participants shaped the music culture of the Civil Rights Movement: Black south-
erners. The freedom songsÑthough recorded, transcribed, committed to the written
page, and readÑtruly came to life within the context of an older Black oral tradition
where song and struggle were inseparable. The power of the songs came from the linking
of traditional oral expression with everyday movement experiences.
Most of the singing during movement activities was congregational: songs learned in
the singing, unrehearsed. The African American congregational singing tradition has its
This hymn, penned by Sabine Baring-Gould at the end of the Civil War in 1865,

was a staple of Sunday school and academic school devotional services. It was often sung
without fervor, with the congregation minding text and melodyÑthat is, until it became
the contemporary freedom anthem of the Montgomery bus boycott. The text references
to the marchers being soldiers and the struggle being a war and a battle with Christ in the
lead suited the time and named the situation for many of the participants.
The other hymn that saw a lot of use during that year was Johnson Oatman Jr.Õs

How to reach the masses, men of every birth

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,

Will draw all men unto me.

The White city fathers who ran Montgomery refused to sit in council with African
Americans who sought to change the segregated practices by which their communities were
run. The lyrics of this hymn were a way of communicating for those who gathered nightly
in mass rallies. Here, the text seems to suggest that with Jesus as leader, even the racist city
fathers of Montgomery might be drawn to righteousness and to the negotiating table. Also,
almost nightly one heard ÒLeaning on the Everlasting Arms,Ó a hymn that expressed the joy
and peace that came from those joined in battle in that community with the assurance that
their struggle was in resonance with their commitments to live Christian lives:

Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Safe and secure from all alarm . . .

Bernice Johnson Reagon
Silent marches were the general practice during the early months, and the songs of
Bernice Johnson Reagon

Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us,

The songs poured forth as movement activity increased. The most well-known song of
the 1960s, ÒWe Shall Overcome,Ó was not from the hit parade. Although it was recorded,
none of these releases made the Top 40 charts, nor did they receive airplay on Top 40 sta-
Bernice Johnson Reagon
congregations, the verses of this composition are relatively unknown (although they are
still occasionally sung in his congregation in Philadelphia). The fact that the verses have
rst time she had been in the company of
Whites who treated her as an equal human being.
During the Montgomery boycott, a delegation from the boycott attended a workshop
at Highlander. Among this group was a trio of young student singers who sang in the
The SNCC Freedom Singers, Saratoga Springs, New York, 1963. Left to right: Charles
Bernice Johnson Reagon
rst time he felt the song become more than just another freedom song. After the freedom
riders had been freed from Parchman Penitentiary, the executive director of the Southern
Commission that outlawed the segregation practice. Like other aspects of the struggle,
the battle had its freedom songs.
On May 4, 1961, CORE gathered a group of volunteer riders, Black and White,
in Washington, DC, to begin a journey that would take them from the nationÕs capital
to New Orleans, Louisiana. On May 14, MotherÕs Day, in Anniston, Alabama, the Þ
bus was burned. Later that same day, the second bus was mobbed in Birmingham and
the injuries sustained were so severe that CORE decided reluctantly to end the trip. The
Bernice Johnson Reagon

To Jackson, this time . . .

James Farmer, the executive director of CORE who had rejoined the riders and ended
up in Hinds County Jail along with the others, wrote new words to a song he had heard
in Chicago during the late 1940s, entitled ÒWhich Side Are You On?Ó That song had
been written during the 1930s Harlan County, Kentucky, coal mine strike by Florence
Reese. When the local Ògoon squad,Ó some of them familiar to Reese, entered her home
in search of her husband, Sam Reese, who was a strike leader, she wrote this song which
asked ÒWhich side are you on boys, which side are you on?Ó

In jail, the new lyrics for the verses by Farmer and others explained who the freedom
riders were, what had happened as a result of their actions, and their need for ÒmenÓ
instead of ÒUncle TomsÓ:

Cause Black folks haven’t got a chance unless we organize . . .

Come all you freedom lovers, oh listen while I tell

Oh how the freedom riders came to Jackson to dwell . . .

In every local campaign after this song came forth in the Parchman prison, there were
c aspects of the community in question. In the
1961Ð1962 Albany, Georgia, campaign they added this verse about a policeman called

Have you heard about that paddy wagon that Big Red likes to drive?

Albany, Georgia, was a powerful singing movement. Mass direct action began with
the November 1961 testing of the ICC ruling against segregated facilities serving inter-
state commerce. The tests were done by members of the local youth chapter of the
based on music he heard there. One of those pieces captured the power and vitality of the
Bernice Johnson Reagon
learned and disseminated orally and through performance practice rather than organized
for freedom and because of her brilliance as an orator and songleader. On this night, she

And all the world go free?

No, there’s a cross for everyone

And there’s a cross for me.

Bernice Johnson Reagon
he sang during the 1930s and 1940s, who performed for union rallies. Forman turned
Bernice Johnson Reagon
and Mary; Bob Dylan; a special choir organized by Eva Jessye; Marian Anderson; Mahalia
Jackson; and the SNCC Freedom Singers.
Others who offered support from the music industry were the Smothers Broth-
ers, who assisted in the production of two recordings of SNCC Freedom Singers by
their label, Mercury Records. Guy Carawan organized several conferences that brought
the South but expanded their repertoire with new songs composed by Matthew Jones and
arrangements with strong jazz inß
Every Black community had its songleaders, and some of them joined the movement
with their time and their voices. The staff of the Civil Rights organizations had great
singers, and SNCC was richly endowed: Charles Sherrod, Cordell Hull Reagon, Willie
Peacock, Sam Block, Hollis Watkins, Bob Zellner, Fannie Lou Hamer, James Bevel, and
Bernice Johnson Reagon
registration drive, who was murdered in McComb, Mississippi. Bertha Gober, the student
arrested with Blanton Hall in Albany, Georgia, in 1961, was a beautiful singer. Suspended
The Selma campaign was so bloody that when the 1965 march from Selma to Mont-
gomery began, the marchers were surrounded by United States Army troops for protection.
Jimmie Lee Jackson and Reverend James Reeb had been murdered and marchers had been
Bernice Johnson Reagon

So I said Burn Baby Burn

Nowhere to be, no one to see

Nowhere to turn

Burn Baby Burn . . .

The music of the Top 40 charts began to resonate with the crisis created by more
than a decade of intense activism. One of the strongest voices was the Impressions out of
Chicago, singing the songs of Curtis MayÞ


Bernice Johnson Reagon
The Post-Civil Rights Period
The Politics of Musical Creativity
Mark Anthony Neal
The quality and breadth of Black protest art during the late 1960s and early 1970s
is perhaps unprecedented in any other historical moment. Underlying many of these
vibrant expressions of political and cultural resistance were efforts to maintain the Òcom-
munities of resistanceÓ that produced the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements.
Mark Anthony Neal
Coordinating Committee (SNCC) were largely eradicated, and the inß
uence of other
groups like the Nation of Islam and Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
began to wane in the 1970s. Moderate organizations like the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Urban League, and Operation Push/The
Rainbow Coalition were increasingly the frontline players in advocating for the mainte-
nance of Civil RightsÐera gains and increased sensitivity towards the concerns of the Black
community in public policy.

ÒMTVedÓ for ÒGeneration X,Ó the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was used to peddle
Mark Anthony Neal
took on a certain prominence in Black musical resistance, particularly after the emergence
Perhaps no one group of artists captured the new terrain of Black musical resistance
Mark Anthony Neal
Accordingly, Black male musical artists picked up on this energy as Black male sexual-
ity was blatantly celebrated in the music of Major Harris and Marvin Gaye, who traveled
from the protest politics of his
(1971) to the bedroom politics of
cance to gay and lesbian community, where Garland became a template for some
postÐWorld War II White male homosexuals.
LaBelleÕs performance of GarlandÕs signa-
ture tune links LaBelle to Garland and, not surprisingly, LaBelle has become a template
for Black male homosexuals who embrace a more feminine model of homosexuality.
Although South Shore CommissionÕs ÒFree ManÓ (1975) has been acknowledged
as an anthem of Black male homosexuality in the 1970s, disco artist Sylvester became
one of the Þ rst openly gay Black men to emerge in Black popular music. With record-
ings like ÒYou Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)Ó (1978) and ÒDance (Disco Heat)Ó (1978),
Sylvester was one of the most popular disco artists in the late 1970s. Sylvester acknowl-
edged the inß uence of Patti LaBelle on his live recording
(1979), where he
performed a version of the LaBelle-penned ÒYou Are My Friend.Ó Sylvester remained the
most well-known homosexual or bisexual Black musician until the emergence of MeÕShell
Figure 21.1 ). NdegŽOcelloÕs debut release
MeShell NdegéOcello at Lifebeat party at NV, New York City,
Photograph by Tina Paul, reproduced with permission.
Mark Anthony Neal
melded old-school funk with hip hop across a vibrant and imaginative urban (musical)
landscape. NdegŽOcelloÕs name, which means ÒFree Like a BirdÓ in Swahili, was the
Black female sexuality or critiques of Civil Rights icons (the controversy over comments
made about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. in the Þ
example). 11 Ironically, the Black-owned radio stations which ÒbannedÓ rap music on their
airwaves had little compunction about accepting ads from malt liquor companies, whose
products could also be traced to ÒdysfunctionalÓ attitudes among the so-called hip hop
generation. Public Enemy and The Family Stand explicitly addressed problems that some
younger artists had with ÒBlack radioÓ on tracks such as ÒDonÕt Believe the HypeÓ (1988)
and ÒPlantation RadioÓ (1992), respectively.
Although class divisions have been an obvious part of the Black experience in Amer-
ica, dating back to the classic ÒÞ eld nigger vs. house niggerÓ narrative, these divisions
Mark Anthony Neal
as entertainers and artists. Of course, any attempt to deÞ ne Black middle class and its
sensibilities is further complicated by issues of skin caste and educational attainment,
although various sentiments about these attributes, especially skin color, are rarely pub-
licly addressed by Blacks in terms of the issues of earned income or wealth. The point here
1 . For a discussion of the ÒPost-SoulÓ era, see Nelson George 1992.
Mark Anthony Neal
Nina Simone in Concert
. Recorded March 21, 1964ÐApril 6, 1964. JDC Records 12100, 2010.
There’s a Riot Goin’ On
Adams, Dolly.
Oral History Digest
. New Orleans: Hogan Jazz Archive, Tulane University, April 18, 1962.
Making Face, Making Soul/Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Women
. 1st ed. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Foundation Books, 1990.
Arbus, Doon. ÒJames Brown Is Out of Sight,Ó
The New York Herald Tribune
, March 20, 1966. Reprint in
James Brown Reader: 50 Years of Writing about the Godfather of Soul
, edited by Nelson George and Alan
Leeds, 18Ð34. New York: A Plum Book/Penguin Press, 2008.
Armstrong, Louis.
. 1936. Reprint, New York: Da Capo, 1993.
Armstrong, Toni, Jr. ÒAn Endangered Species: WomenÕs Music By, For, and About Women.Ó
Journal of Women’s Music and Culture
5, no. 3 (September 1989): 17Ð19.
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Happy Endings: Lesbian Writers Talk About Their Lives and
, edited by Kate Brandt, 161Ð70. Tallahassee, FL: The Naiad Press, Inc., 1993.
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Bricker, Rebecca. ÒTake One.Ó
, April 4, 1983. Available from
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Bodies in Dissent: Spectacular Performances of Race and Freedom, 1850–1910
London: Duke University Press, 2006.
Brooks, Tim.
Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890–1919
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Broven, John.
The New York Times
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A Personal Story through Sight and Sound
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ÒDon Cornelius Is Guest on WBEEÕs ÔMinority ForumÕ.Ó
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ÒThe Gospel According To . . . Ó
Freeing the Spirit
1, no. 2 (Spring 1972): 7Ð9.
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Editors and Contributors
Editors and Contributors
has been writing professionally about rhythm and blues, rock, coun-
try, jazz, and gospel for over forty years. Nominated for Þ ve Grammy Awards, in 1996
Bowman won the Grammy in the ÒBest Album NotesÓ category for a 47,000-word
Editors and Contributors
for the Study of Popular Music-US, and an editor for several popular music journals,
Journal of Popular Music Studies
. At the local level, Garofalo serves on the
Editors and Contributors
is currently conducting research for a monograph on post-punk music, graphic design,
discourses of branding, and attitudes regarding race and empire in the United Kingdom
Editors and Contributors
Editors and Contributors
article on MotownÕs Black Forum label in the Spring 2015 issue of the
Recorded Sound Collections Journal
Professor of American Studies at University of Kansas, is the
Dance Floor Democracy: The Social Geography of Memory at the Hollywood Can-
(Duke, 2000) and co-editor,
with Nichole T. Rustin, of
She is a member of Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice (ICASP), Interna-
tional Institutes for Critical Improvisation Studies (IISCI), the Melba Liston Research
Collective, the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument (AUMI) research team led by Pauline
Oliveros, and the AUMI-KU InterArts, one of six member institutions of the AUMI
Research Consortium. She was the Louis Armstrong Visiting Professor at the Center
for Jazz Studies at Columbia University in 2004Ð2005. She is co-editor, with Randal M.
and a series editor, with Deborah Wong and Jeremy Wallach,
for Music/Culture at Wesleyan University Press.
is the recipient of numerous awards for his creative work as a composer,
including awards from the Guggenheim, Koussevitzky, Rockefeller, Fromm, and Lila Wal-
Block, Rory 18
Bloomfield, Mike 14, 20–1
blues: blues compositions 246; blues festivals 15–16;
blues revival 16–25; country blues 94; early
recordings of 91–3,
; female vocal styles
influence from 207; origins 3, 339–41; “race”
records 10, 93–4,
; racial identity and 22–3,
25–6, 256, 258–60; racial segregation era and
6–7; radio broadcasts 7, 11, 248–9; “shouting”
vocal style 19, 243–5, 253, 293; southern
Black “chitlin’ circuit” 25, 372; urban blues 12;
influence from 7; women in blues 93, 202,
body: Black pride display and 369–70; blues
performing persona and 244; monitoring of
Black entertainers 8; performance attire of R&B
boogie-woogie 58, 62n11, 64n72, 116, 151–2, 246,
Booker, T. and the MGs 135, 137–40, 142–3, 149
Boyd, Stacy C. 217
Boyer, Horace 204
brass bands 258, 263
Broonzy, Big Bill (William Lee Conley) 13, 15, 94,
Brown, Foxy 318
Brown, James 48–51, 52–3, 98, 100, 369–70
Brown, Ruth 13, 249, 289–92, 294–5
Bryant, Charles Anthony 221–7
Burleigh, Harry 69–70, 91
Burnim, Mellonee 50, 180, 187
Butler, Melvin L. 218
Caesar, Shirley 83–4
Campbell, “Little” Milton 11, 20, 25, 145
Campbell, Lucie 202–6,

Carawan, Guy 346, 350–2, 360
Carey, Mariah 102, 104
Carmichael, Stokley
, 119, 369, 376
Carr, Ian 34
Carson, David 121
Charles, Ray 57, 63n69, 97, 348
Chicago: blues on radio 7; Great Migration and
promotion 167Ð9; syncopated dance music
Daniels, Douglas Henry 41
Danielsen, Anne 53
Dannen, Frederic 160Ð1
Davis, Angela 259, 314, 369
George, Luvenia 204
George, Nelson 51, 95, 102, 368
Giddings, Paula 274
Gillespie, Dizzy 39, 45n45, 266
LaBelle 300Ð1, 372Ð3
LaBelle, Patti 103, 163, 296, 300, 372, 374Ð5
Lakeside 165, 172Ð3
Lamb, Bill 105
LaSalle, Denise 20, 24,
, 25, 252
Lataillade, Vicki Mack 82Ð4, 86Ð7, 192Ð3
gender; sexuality
LilÕ Kim 318
Lincoln, C. Eric 218
Liston, Melba 257Ð8, 260, 266Ð7
Little Richard (Richard Penniman) 13, 55Ð8, 63n69,
LL Cool J 100, 103, 320, 371
Lomax, Alan 10, 15, 23, 94, 360
Lomax, John 94
Lont, Cynthia 271
Los Angeles: as advocacy locale 176; Guys & Dolls
club 166; Lakeside residency in 172; Motown
relocation to 111, 129; New Orleans jazz in 265;
Soul Train
relocation to 167; WattsStax event 147
Lucas, Carrie 165Ð6, 168, 170Ð1, 173
Macero, Teo 43n20
Malcolm X 112, 132n8, 369, 376Ð7
Malone, Bill C. 8, 56
Mamiya, Lawrence H. 218
Martha & the Vandellas 110,
, 121, 125, 128
Martin, Roberta 83, 204
Martin, Sallie 86, 201, 248, 249
Martin, Sarah 93, 243
Palmer, Robert 45n45
Parks, Rosa 314, 344, 350Ð1, 377
Parrish, Lydia 334
Patton, Charley 17, 94
Paul, Billy 157Ð8
Peabody, Charles 337
Pearson, Carlton 232Ð3
Peer, Ralph 93
Pegglee-Poo 308
Pekar, Harvey 33Ð4
Pentecostal/Sanctified Church 181Ð2, 184Ð5, 187,
performance: audience role in Black performance
48Ð51; blues performing persona 244; blues
revival transcultural performance 17Ð20,
24Ð5; concert promotion 167; Ò
154, 165; jukeboxes 94; live concert recordings
track recording 125Ð6; payola scandals 97,
Shalamar 165, 168, 170Ð1, 173, 179n20
ShantŽ, Roxanne 312, 317Ð18
Sha-Rock 308, 310, 312
Shaw, Arnold 56
Shelton, Robert 352, 354Ð5
Sheri Sher 307
Sherrod, Charles 352, 356
Shirelles 98, 287, 296Ð7
Shorter, Wayne 32Ð4, 43n20
Sidran, Ben 39Ð41, 45n47
Simon, George T. 59
Simon and Garfunkle 53
skiffle 15
slavery 68Ð9, 259, 331Ð2, 333Ð6
Sly and the Family Stone 99Ð100, 301Ð2, 369
Smith, Bessie 9, 74,
, 93, 207, 241Ð7, 250,
Smith, E. Dewey 225
Smith, Mabel Louise ÒBig MaybelleÓ 251
Smith, Mamie 91Ð3, 241Ð2,
, 244, 258, 361
Smith, Suzanne 112, 122
Smith, Trixie 93,
, 243
Smith, Will 104, 149, 171, 371
Smith, Willie Mae Ford 83, 202, 211Ð13
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles 110,
Snoop Dogg 149, 177
Snorton, C. Riley 217Ð18
Snow, Valaida 257, 262, 265Ð6
Snyder, Jean 70Ð1
SOLAR (Sound of Los Angeles Records) 165,
Soul Messengers 181
soul music: Òblue-eyed soulÓ music 98; blues artists
Wald, Elijah 37
Walker, Albertina 87
Walker, Anthony ÒTonyÓ 227
Walker, Clarence 204
Wallace, Sippie 93, 243, 246, 252, 254, 287
Waller, Fats 95, 244
Ward, Clara 201, 203Ð4
Warwick, Jacqueline 298
Washington, Dinah 249Ð51, 373
Waters, Muddy 14Ð15, 18, 20
Wells, Junior 20,
, 252Ð4
Wells, Mary 110, 121, 125Ð7, 130
Werner, Craig 40Ð1
West, Cornell 122
Westbrooks, Logan 155, 165,

Wexler, Jerry 140, 250
Whispers 165, 168Ð71, 173, 175
White, Cliff 49
counterculture and 289; in disco 101; Elvis
covers 57Ð8, 251, 288; prevalence on radio
9; racial erasure in jazz 95; racial erasure in
295; racial erasure in rock 47, 54Ð5, 57Ð60,
crossovers; Presley, Elvis;
Whitfield, Norman 125, 128Ð9, 155, 369
Wiggins, Daphne C. 223

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