Edited By William M. Reynolds
Chapter Seven: Diddley Bows, Cross Harps, Banjars, and Backbeats:The Rhythm and Sound of Personal Agency from Southern African America
Diddley Bows, Cross Harps, Banjars and Backbeats: The Rhythm and Sound of Personal Agency from Southern African America
When rock ‘n roll started…Little Richard had been doing some of the same things I heard the Rolling Stones doing.…The only difference I saw was white and black. …“Okay, that’s a white guy there; he’s rock ‘n roll. That’s a black guy over there; he’s playing the blues.”
—B. B. King (2001, n.p.)
Music is a powerful medium for creating voice and agency, because it creates personal connections to concepts by uniting body, mind, and emotions into one seamless dynamic entity. Southern African American music stands out as one of the most potent examples of this in all of recorded history. Now, 400 years after the first slaves were brought to America in chains, it is almost impossible to imagine our culture without this music. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, it is clear that various forms of slavery did not end with that legal document. Even now, after all this time, we still need to acknowledge our cultural indebtedness in so many ways. In particular, white rock and roll musicians owe an enormous debt to Southern African Americans, because without them, America would be without a form of music that we can truly call our own. Indeed, one of the great ironies of American history is that white singers and...
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