Music Between Genres

America’s segregation history is one of violence and cruelty, yet in the midst of this, phenomenon like the minstrel show exists. Or even more interesting, people like Muddy Waters existed in this era and context of intense radical racism while also transcending the borders between genres and race. Muddy Waters would listen to everything on the radio — country, jazz, pop, minstrel songs, etc — and sung them in his own way. He had very wide musical talent, despite being nearly illiterate. Later on, he would further fuzz the boundaries separating the races by singing in integrated bands and working on movies for Disney. In a time when it was illegal for a black and white person to play music together, the radio allowed this to happen. After all, you can’t see skin color when listening to a guy play the guitar. I think it’s pretty rad that in the face of such unfair and unjust laws, people still found a way to stick it to the man while doing something they actually love. Music is something that has always passed borders between race and ethnicities long before the legal and political systems, and it makes me wonder if America, or even the world, would look a lot different if these integrated bands didn’t have to play in secret.

 

President Waters

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