Blues Then and Now - The History of the Blues (Chapter 7, page 1 of 5)


Previous Page
Next Page

Chapter 7

Nothing could have been more influential on the development of the blues than the field recordings. Record companies in the early 1920s dispatched talent scouts into the Deep South to search out potential blue artists of the future.

Record companies were encouraging the blacks to sing their original songs for the sole purpose of enhancing this new music to attract the younger people. In addition to promoting the blues as a new music, the record companies retained the copyrights of the blues and secured the royalties from them. Not all field recordings were of the blues type. The blacks sang ballads, spirituals, gospels, work-songs, protest-songs, barrel-house songs and the blues. Also, not all of the field recordings were made by songsters. Some recordings were made with string bands, brass bands, washboard bands and jug bands.

Field recordings were made on location with non-­professionals as well as with professionals that traveled with the medicine shows, vaudeville circuit, carnivals and minstrel shows. As can be expected, these field recordings had successfully enhanced the careers of rural and classic blues sinners. The unsung heroes of those discoveries were the talent scouts who with a keen ear for music recognized the talents of the artists and recorded them. Lawrence Gellert of Greenville, South Carolina was among the first to make a field recording in 1924. He was followed by other notable scouts such as Frank Walker in New York, Arthur Laibley in Chicago, Polk Brockman from Atlanta, Georgia and H.C. Speir in Jackson, Mississippi.

Previous Page
Next Page


Rate This Book

Current Rating: 2.9/5 (398 votes cast)



Review This Book or Post a Comment