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The American Blues: Men, Myths, and Motifs

2012, BA, Kent State University, College of Arts and Sciences / Department of History.
Music is a global phenomenon. It exists in every culture on the planet in a myriad of forms. But music is more than just a human hobby. It is a cultural magnifying glass. It is through music that the stories of a people; their history and philosophies, are displayed. It is through this performance that a culture can be understood. Without a peoples' stories, their past is incomplete and often misunderstood.
The American Blues: Men, Myths, and Motifs explores Southern African-American life after Reconstruction predominantly through primary sources that are often overlooked, such as W. C. Handy and John Lomax, along with the Blues musicians themselves. The South, from the lumber mills of Eastern Texas to the cotton fields of Mississippi, a new American culture had emerged; a nascent world on display. Their music was dominated by Rhythm and Blues, a style with origins in both Africa and Europe. It is from the Blues that the frugally documented African-American South can be understood. This thesis uses the lyrics, biographies, and interviews of some of the greatest storytellers, and African-American oral historians called griots like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter, and Robert Johnson, in an attempt to understand the culture of the people and places these musicians sang and spoke about. The American Blues delves into the lives of musicians, the histories of their enslaved kin, and the music that both showcased their past, as well as their mythologies and philosophies. Through this research of folklore, lyrics, and histories the early American South can truly be seen.
Leslie Heaphy, PhD (Advisor)
Matthew Crawford, PhD (Committee Member)
Thomas Norton-Smith, PhD (Committee Member)
Roxburgh Susan, PhD (Committee Member)
Peggy Beck, Prof. (Committee Member)
116 p.

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Lower, J. (2012). The American Blues: Men, Myths, and Motifs. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from

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Lower, Jonathan. "The American Blues: Men, Myths, and Motifs." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Kent State University, 2012. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 18 Jun 2018.

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Lower, Jonathan "The American Blues: Men, Myths, and Motifs." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Kent State University, 2012.


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