A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews, and by Jeffrey Melnick PDF

By Jeffrey Melnick

ISBN-10: 067400566X

ISBN-13: 9780674005662

All too usually an incident or coincidence, corresponding to the eruption in Crown Heights with its legacy of bitterness and recrimination, thrusts Black-Jewish kinfolk into the scoop. A volley of dialogue follows, yet little within the method of growth or enlightenment results--and this is often how issues will stay until eventually we noticeably revise the best way we predict in regards to the complicated interactions among African american citizens and Jews. A correct to Sing the Blues deals simply this type of revision. "Black-Jewish relations," Jeffrey Melnick argues, has usually been a manner for American Jews to discuss their ambivalent racial prestige, a story jointly developed at serious moments, whilst specific conflicts call for an evidence. Remarkably versatile, this narrative can set up diffuse fabrics right into a coherent tale that has a robust carry on our mind's eye. Melnick elaborates this concept via an in-depth examine Jewish songwriters, composers, and perfomers who made "Black" track within the first few many years of this century. He indicates how Jews equivalent to George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Al Jolson, and others have been in a position to painting their "natural" affinity for generating "Black" tune as a fabricated from their Jewishness whereas at the same time depicting Jewishness as a good white identification. Melnick additionally contends that this cultural task competed at once with Harlem Renaissance makes an attempt to outline Blackness. relocating past the slim concentration of advocacy team politics, this publication complicates and enriches our realizing of the cultural terrain shared via African americans and Jews.

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Additional resources for A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews, and American Popular Song

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120 From the evidence of the reception of “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” it is clear that Berlin knew enough about what was being sold as ragtime to position himself as its foremost interpreter. ”121 Berlin had unprecedented success in marketing his version of “Black” music as “American” music. ”123 Even as Berlin moved away in his career from explicitly ragtimein_ected music, he returned often to “Black” themes and forms, with his stance ranging from outright mockery to apparent sympathy.

36 One reason why people had a hard time distinguishing between ragtime and jazz is that they had never been quite sure what ragtime was. ”39 At issue amid all the vagueness and contestation was whether ragtime was a genre or a style, or even whether it existed as a distinct entity at all. 40 Such measured attempts to move away from the ragtime label were easily overmatched by efforts to infuse ragtime with mythic properties. 41 The musical nomenclature was exceptionally elastic. This suppleness was caused by and was in the service of many extramusical concerns.

11 This is not the threatening license usually depicted but a vague evocation of pathetic and unsatisfying sexuality—de~ned, it seems, by images of premature ejaculation and postcoital depression. Daniel Gregory Mason, a Yankee composer and music theorist, drew an even more explicit cause-and-effect relationship: “Industrialism has provided widespread fatigue: fatigue craves exaggerated physical stimuli combined with a minimum appeal to the mind. ”12 In the welter of issues surrounding ragtime and jazz discourse, what is least well understood is how the sexualized language which swarmed about the music did its work.

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A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews, and American Popular Song by Jeffrey Melnick


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