What do you know about the BLUES?

I love the blues. My local Public Radio station plays the Blues on Saturday evening.  In addition, the DJ gives historical facts about the artist or commentary on the Blues performer’s style.  But, I must admit, I don’t know much about the history of the Blues. I decided I wanted to know how the blues as a form of music came to be a part of our story.  So, I googled the “Blues History” and came a way with the fact the there hasn’t been much growth in Blues as a music genre.

The Blues roots can be found in the work songs of the slaves in the south.  The songs were of call and response and the field slaves added vocal emotive and rhythm to their hard work.  These slave vocals grew into the Blues.  The lyrics of many Blues songs are soulful and melancholy music celebrating the life of Black Americans. The lyrics of the blues reflected the lives including: sex, drinking, railroads, jail, murder, poverty, hard labor and love lost. 

Famous Blues Artist: Howlin Wolf
Chester Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976), known as Howlin’ Wolf, was an influential American
blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player. He was born in West Point, Mississippi in an area now known as White Station.

2nd Time Around …

Two important days are upon us.  We are getting ready for the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, America’s first African American president, and the National Holiday celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. slain civil rights leader. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday is a day of service.  I must say I never knew it was a day that citizens volunteered in their communities until Barack Obama took office.  Well, up until then, it was a day off but now you look to volunteer on the federal holiday.  Both men are phenomenal in my world.


Who would’ve thought you could see a Black man elected president twice.  Watching his political career and now his presidency is example of what my grandmother called,
“… having the hand of God on you.”  Who would’ve thought that he would be re-elect with the rich and powerful republicans trying to buy and lie their way back to the white house.

There was a time when all we had was faith.  We had faith that we would overcome prejudice, injustice and racism that plagued our daily lives to the point of despair.  When I think of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s mountaintop speech,  I picture him like Moses on the mountain and seeing the future and that future included Barack Obama.


Our despair has turned into hope.  HOPE.  Hope for a brighter future for our children and generations to come.

Martin Luther King Jr.

mlk-lorraine balcony
Lorraine Hotel Balcony

Martin Luther King was known as a civil rights leader.  In addition, he was a Nobel Prize winner and he received a American holiday on his birthday, January 15th, or on that Monday near the 15th, because of his lasting effect on American society.

Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel on April 4, 1968.  Black Americans were so outraged riots broke out across the country in major cities.

memphis 1968
Memphis Riots 1968

Businesses were looted and set on fire and cars turned on their roofs.  The television showed buildings on fire, but the pictures don’t tell that the fire department was not risking their lives to fight these fires so in some instances the buildings burned themselves out.

Louisville, Ky 1968 Riots

In some cities the National Guard was called to restore order, remove folks from the street and enforce curfews.   And yes, there were deaths associated with the riots of 1968.

Emancipation Proclamation

Abraham Lincoln sign the Emancipation Proclamation January 1, 1963, 150 years ago, freeing over 3 million slaves.  In the 3rd year of the civil war, Lincoln signed the proclamation that declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.  In addition, Black men were able to join union army and navy.  From the first day of the civil war Blacks worked to free themselves.

Emancipation Proclamation
Emancipation Proclamation

Unfortunately for Blacks, southern whites took the proclamation as an out rage and were appalled.  Subsequently, southern whites formed groups like the KKK (klu klux klan) to control and dominate Blacks.