Minstrelsy greatly inspired popular music. It led to a pattern that white Americans would continue to follow for the next 150 years. The name Zip Coon became a household name. He is characterized as a “city slicker” street wise African American who poorly imitates “white city folk”. Jim Crow was the complete opposite character. He was portrayed as a kind of helpful stable hand who becomes the common “comic relief” that we see in today’s movies and television shows. These black minstrels became popular variety shows that had a decade run from the 1830’s to the 1840’s. These variety shows would depict black people singing songs and talking about the life on the plantations in their perspective. Instead of sounding depressing, performers would tell jokes and talk in an interesting way that brought attention to them. At the end of slavery in 1865 many free African Americans traveled around. They formed groups of touring musicians called troupes. It was the main source of income a free slave could work with at the time. Some of the most know musicians in this time started off in minstrel troupes. People like W.C. Handy, Ma Rainey, and T-Bone Walker came from minstrels and were in the spot light all the way into the turn of the nineteenth century. Some music in the south created their own types of music called the Delta Rural Blues. It described hardships and hopes. Handy was one of the first and most successful entrepreneurs of Blues music. Before the 1900’s through 1920 was the underground growth time period. The first official blues record was published in 1920 by Mamie Smith called “Crazy Blues”. It sold 75,000 copies in the first month. Using this form and style, blues music created another genre called “race records”. Other styles like classic blues sang more sophisticated songs accompanied by jazz masters like Louis Armstrong. The twentieth century had musicians like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, and Son House left a mark on the music industry that still affects us to this day.
Music is universal. We all have a responsibility as artist to give the world new music. Too long we have complained about how the music industry is crumbling. It is our time to carry this culture into the future. If we don't, then we will watch the last of a dying breed fade away. The fake and falsified will control and we will be helpless to change the direction of this life style.