For many African American women, their sexual expression and the perception of their bodies by others has not been historically theirs to own. With stereotypes such as the view as an overtly sexual being such as the “Jezebel” having followed them for centuries past and present, African American women struggle to express their sexual freedom. […]Read more "Express Yourself: Sexual Expression in Black Women Across Class Boundaries"
An Introduction to the Blues By Meghan Evans I remember the night it happened. My cell phone rang. My mother was on the other end, “It’s time.” At the hospice home, I sat there holding my mother and stared in awe at my grandfather opposite me. He sat next to his beloved wife, holding her […]Read more "An Introduction to the Blues"
Last week in class, we talked extensively about the motivations of the Blues singers we had read about. Did they intend their songs to be political statements, or were they just singing about the way they saw their lives? Does one of those preclude the others? And does the original intent matter if those processing […]Read more "What is political?"
Everyone knows that an excellent song has to have a first-rate title to draw listeners in and a killer “hook” to keep them wanting more. Apparently, blogs are no different. As I sat pondering what to name this particular post, In Defense of the African Queen came out as a forerunner. But when I thought […]Read more "“The African Queen”: From Classic Blues to the Hip-Hop Feminist"
Last week, a major topic of discussion was whether there are any current musicians who serve as current-day examples of the first blues women, such as Gertrude “Ma” Rainey or Bessie Smith. Clouded by skepticism, my initial response to this issue was that current musicians are over-produced, and their music is not as honest, not […]Read more "Messages Through Music"
True or false: Domestic violence is not a problem in my hometown. While some might believe this to be a true statement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that each year, 5.3 million women ages 18 and older are victimized by an intimate partner. One in four women faces physical, emotional, or sexual […]Read more "Living with the Enemy: Bringing Domestic Abuse into Public View"
In the winter of 2009-2010, a single photograph dominated the New York City subway system. For me and all the other antisocial strap-hangers desperate to avoid eye contact with a real person, this picture provided a reliable distraction. It was a photo of Tina Turner in all her glory—mouth open, makeup brassy and fabulous, hair […]Read more "Acid Queen, Rock Royalty"
Whenever anyone mentions Aretha Franklin as a female music mogul, one word comes to mind: Respect. Unfortunately, respect for women (or oneself) isn’t necessarily a pre-requisite in the music industry. In the 1920s and 1930s, blues music began gaining popularity, and was known for his provocative and pervasive sexual imagery. Not only was this imagery […]Read more "The Female Blues: Making Private Public"
Our discussion of the empowering effect of the blues focused mostly on the working class. We even mentioned how we tend to lionize the working class, from where the blues originated, when talking about struggles against injustices. Female blues singers such as Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith were heroic in the way they spoke out […]Read more "Strong, silent and suffering types?"
After reading about how relationships were a popular subject for female blues singers, I wondered how their male counterparts approached the subject. How did they feel about infidelity, love, and the opposite sex? Expecting to have to search hard for examples, I was surprised to find many male singers of the era broaching these topics. […]Read more "“My Baby Left Me All Alone”: Blues Men and Relationships"