Blues People: Race, History and Music in the U.S.

This FYP approaches the issue of U.S. race relations through the prism of African/American music and history. We will explore the ways in which music has tended to draw African-Americans and whites together and how it has, at other times, been manipulated to reinforce separation between the races. Specific musical genres and musicians will help us to tell the story of how African-American history, black/white race relations, and music intersect, particularly with the rise of spirituals during slavery, the rise of blues during the Great Migration, the rise of rock ‘n’ roll during the 1950s, the rise of soul music during the Civil Rights era, concluding with the post-Civil Rights rise of hip-hop and rap. This FYP will not cover all genres, nor is it a history of American music. Rather this course will use music to discuss U.S. history and race relations. Students do not need any music education or performance background for this course.