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Introduction

Introduction Downloaded from http://read.dukeupress.edu/black-sacred-music/article-pdf/6/1/33/792911/33introduction.pdf by DEEPDYVE INC user on 13 February 2021 lntrodudion When the blues first began to develop as a commercial art form dur­ ing the early 1920s, it was viewed as more or less evil by the emerg­ ing black middle class of the urban North who were striving for so­ cial, political, and economic integration into white society. Lucius C. Harper, who wrote a column for The Chicago Defender, an elitist black newspaper founded in 190 5, was one of numerous professional African-Americans who wrote negatively on the blues. In a piece titled "We Prefer the 'Blues' to Our Essential Causes," Harper said: "While we have failed in these fundamental instances [gleaning po­ litical recognition from whites], we have succeeded in winning favor and almost unanimous popularity in our 'blues' songs, spirituals and 'jitterbug' accomplishments. Why?" He answered himself : "Our blue melodies have been made popular because they are different, humorous and silly. The sillier the better. They excite the primitive emotion in man and arouse his bestiality. He begins to hum, moan and jump usually when they are put into action. They stir up the emotions and fit in handily with bootleg liquor. They http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Black Sacred Music Duke University Press

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Copyright
Copyright © 1992 by Duke University Press
ISSN
1043-9455
eISSN
2640-9879
DOI
10.1215/10439455-6.1.33
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Downloaded from http://read.dukeupress.edu/black-sacred-music/article-pdf/6/1/33/792911/33introduction.pdf by DEEPDYVE INC user on 13 February 2021 lntrodudion When the blues first began to develop as a commercial art form dur­ ing the early 1920s, it was viewed as more or less evil by the emerg­ ing black middle class of the urban North who were striving for so­ cial, political, and economic integration into white society. Lucius C. Harper, who wrote a column for The Chicago Defender, an elitist black newspaper founded in 190 5, was one of numerous professional African-Americans who wrote negatively on the blues. In a piece titled "We Prefer the 'Blues' to Our Essential Causes," Harper said: "While we have failed in these fundamental instances [gleaning po­ litical recognition from whites], we have succeeded in winning favor and almost unanimous popularity in our 'blues' songs, spirituals and 'jitterbug' accomplishments. Why?" He answered himself : "Our blue melodies have been made popular because they are different, humorous and silly. The sillier the better. They excite the primitive emotion in man and arouse his bestiality. He begins to hum, moan and jump usually when they are put into action. They stir up the emotions and fit in handily with bootleg liquor. They

Journal

Black Sacred MusicDuke University Press

Published: Mar 1, 1992

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