Assignment 2: The Politics of Recording African American Folk Music


 “White folks don’t understand about the blues….You don’t sing to feel better.  You sing ‘cause that’s a way of understanding life….The blues help you get out of bed in the morning.  You get up knowing you ain’t alone.  There’s something else in the world.  Something’s been added by that song.  This be an empty world without the blues.  I take that emptiness and try to fill it up with something.”
              --Ma Rainey, in August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”

Part A

Eyes instead of ears today:

In your weblog, consider the following questions:

Part B

Read David Evans' article “Alan Lomax: An Appreciation” in Course Documents.

 In your weblog, consider the following questions:

Part C

Some civil rights activists argue that white music producers, musicians, audiences, and folk culture scholars have exploited African-American performers.  Post a response to this claim using material from the "Now What a Time" website,  Evans’ article, and your knowledge of white musicians (from Elvis to Eminem) performing music that originated in African-American communities.

Elvis was a hero to most
But he never meant shit to me you see
Straight up racist that sucker was
simple and plain
--Chuck D, “Fight the Power”