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Blues People: Negro Music in White America Hardcover – August 11, 1980

4.7 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

?This extremely pertinent work will make a valuable addition to the musical and sociological collections of public and academic libraries.?-Library Journal

From the Publisher

This extremely pertinent work will make a valuable addition to the musical and sociological collections of public and academic libraries.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (August 11, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0313225192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0313225192
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,735,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

AMIRI BARAKA/LEROI JONES (1934-2014) was the author of numerous books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. He was named poet laureate of New Jersey by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, from 2002-2004. His short story collection Tales of the Out & the Gone (Akashic Books) was a New York Times Editors' Choice and won a 2008 PEN/Beyond Margins Award. He is also the author of Home: Social Essays, Black Music, The System of Dante's Hell, and Tales, among other works.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is probably the greatest ever written on the early history of black music in America. With rare clarity and glowing intensity, Baraka traces the evolution of black forms such as blues and jazz back to Africa, and presents the reader with genuine insight into the world of the creators of these important 20th century art forms. The book is as gripping as any novel you will ever read, and also crammed with facts and mindboggling lines of thought. Anybody with even the slightest interest in modern black music needs to read this book, and consider its contents thoroughly.
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Format: Paperback
I actually purchased the first paperback edition this book a long time ago, and I learned that it had been out of print for quite some time. It was a time when I was a casual listener of blues and jazz, and didn't think about the roots of the music I was listening to. The book was interesting enough, but it didn't have information about more contemporary stuff, as it was printed in 1963.

Recently, I found this book in the upper shelves of my library, having completely forgotten about it in spite of my infatuation with the blues for the better part of the last two decades. It was a most welcome surprise for me, as it contained a compact but comprehensive introduction to the time period from the first Africans came to America to the 1920s when their music was first recorded, and laid the groundwork to how this music evolved in a sociological context. The rural lifestyle, the reflections of the exodus from the south on the music and subsequent refined, urban sound are discussed in this framework.

Although it would not really appeal to the casual reader and listener, "Blues People" is invaluable for the serious blues and jazz fan for setting the music into the general context of social life and external effects that made this music what it is today.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amiri Baraka (aka Leroy Jones) wrote a book about the move from Africa to slavery and from slavery to citizenship, and from "African to Negro" in his words. As music was the most profound artistic expression of this move, Baraka analyses each stage of social change through the music it produced.
As Baraka concentrates on the process, he does not put any emphasis on names and details of the musicians. The book is not in any way a list of "who's who in Blues or Jazz".
The book is critical of American mainstream culture, describing it as shallow and un-creative. Baraka observes that Blacks who have tried to belong to the mainstream (white) society have not been able to produce any music of value. He believes that their rejection of their Blues (slavery) roots made them too as shallow and un-creative as the society they wanted to join.
Baraka is most knowledgeable of Bebop and its developments up to free Jazz, as they are the closest to his generation. He is admittedly less connected to country blues, which for him expresses the first stage in the post slavery black society.
The book is magnificent in its originality and boldness. I think it is essential reading for anyone interested in African American music and/or culture.
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Format: Paperback
The other day a friend rashly claimed that art and music were equally hard to describe in words. I asked him to tell me about a certain painting of Picasso's. He did, but claimed it wasn't accurate. "OK," I said, "you're right, but now tell me about Mozart's Jupiter Symphony." He opened his mouth, closed it, looked at me, and said, "Yeah, I see what you mean." Writing a book about the blues would be equally hard, it seems to me. So, LeRoi Jones did what he could, back in 1963, to tie the indescribable to the more concrete. He wrote a social history of African-Americans in the USA through the prism of music or---maybe on the principle of red and yellow tile floors (are they red with yellow designs or yellow with red designs ?)---he wrote a book on African-American music through the prism of social history. It is one of the most important books on American music (and American society) that you can find. It has stood the test of time. He begins from the Africans who came to North America as slaves bearing very different cultures, confronted by an absolutely different view of the world emanating from their new masters. Here he tries to show how African music became transformed into African-AMERICAN music and then American. He continues then up through the generations of slavery, to Emancipation, migration to the cities, World War I, the Depression, World War II and the bebop age of the Fifties. The book is pre-Civil Rights movement, pre-Martin Luther King. Jones may have looked down on the NAACP and its allies as "white liberal supported organizations", I'm not sure, but they don't appear. The times are symbolized by the use of "Negro" throughout. I agree, the tome is dated, but don't reject it, don't pooh-pooh the man. This is a very intelligent, very worthwhile book.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
For someone who didn't like the blues this book made me more appreciate the music and eventualy come to like some of it. This book focuses on the development of the blues and starts with the history of African Americans in the US. This is not a typical history book because it intoduced to me some new ideas that most history books would just ignore. it showed how The african american race dealed with racial issues through their music.
Like i said I didn't like any blues until I read this book. I feel this book has caused me to appreciate music much more.
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