This is the "Blues & Gospel Music" page of the "America's Music Film Series" guide.
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America's Music Film Series  

The America's Music Films series features documentary screenings of films based on six different music genres. For each genre, you can find a selection of print books, electronic books, films and CDs at Olin Library. Websites are also provided.
Last Updated: May 30, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Blues & Gospel Music Print Page

Electronic Books

Below are a selection of electronic books available at Olin Library.  These books can be read online and provide further information about Blues and Gospel Music.

Barrelhouse blues : location recording and the early traditions of the blues - Oliver, Paul, 1927
Call Number: [electronic resource]
Publication Date: 2009
In the 1920s, Southern record companies ventured to cities like Dallas, Atlanta, and New Orleans, where they set up primitive recording equipment in makeshift studios. They brought in street singers, medicine show performers, pianists from the juke joints and barrelhouses. The music that circulated through Southern work camps, prison farms, and vaudeville shows would be lost to us if it hadn’t been captured on location by these performers and recorders.

Blues music in the sixties : a story in Black and White - Adelt, Ulrich
Call Number: [electronic resource]
Publication Date: 2010
Can a type of music be "owned"? Examining how music is linked to racial constructs and how African American musicians and audiences reacted to white appropriation, Blues Music in the Sixties shows the stakes when whites claim the right to play and live the blues.

Downhome gospel : African American spiritual activism in Wiregrass Country - McGregory, Jerrilyn
Call Number: [electronic resource]
Publication Date: 2010
Jerrilyn McGregory explores sacred music and spiritual activism in a little-known region of the South, the Wiregrass Country of Georgia, Alabama, and North Florida. She examines African American sacred music outside of Sunday church-related activities, showing that singing conventions and anniversary programs fortify spiritual as well as social needs. In this region African Americans maintain a social world of their own creation. Their cultural performances embrace some of the most pervasive forms of African American sacred music--spirituals, common meter, Sacred Harp, shape-note, traditional, and contemporary gospel. Moreover, the contexts in which they sing include present-day observations such as the Twentieth of May (Emancipation Day), Burial League Turnouts, and Fifth Sunday.

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Great God A'Mighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds - Jerry Zolten
Call Number: [electronic resource]
ISBN: 0195152727
Publication Date: 2003-02-06
The Dixie Hummingbirds, along with the Swan Silvertones and the Soul Stirrers, were the foremost popularizers of the a cappella style of gospel music that brought the spiritual music of traditional African-American communities to a wide-and primarily white-audience in the 1950s. In this excellent history, Zolten, an assistant professor of American Studies at Penn. State, Altoona, carefully and lovingly details the almost 75-year history of the Hummingbirds, from their start in the Depression to their induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2000. He deftly explores how the group's history itself embodies numerous American ironies: that an "unintended result" of segregation "was the flowering of a distinctly African American homegrown culture" that included gospel music; that the Depression and the mass migration of African Americans from the South "created a nationwide market for black entertainers of all kinds" that allowed the Hummingbirds their initial financial success. Zolten interestingly points out that the group, known for its hard-driving vocal sound, won its only Grammy award for their own version of "Loves Me Like a Rock" by Paul Simon, whose original version had featured the Hummingbirds and brought them to a new rock-oriented audience. Adding to the book's success are Zolten's numerous interviews with founding members James Davis and Ira Tucker, as well as their many collaborators, which add personal depth to the book's amazing wealth of detail and dates. This is a fine exploration of an important style and era in the history of American popular music and culture.


Print Books

Below are print books available at the Olin Library.  These are only a selection of the wide array of books available for check out that provide further information about Blues and Gospel Music.

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Broadcasting the Blues - Paul Oliver
Call Number: ML3521 .O445 2006
ISBN: 0415971764
Publication Date: 2005-10-12
Broadcasting the Blues: Black Blues in the Segregation Erais based on Paul Oliver's award-winning radio broadcasts from the BBC that were created over several decades. It traces the social history of the blues in America, from its birth in the rural South through the heyday of sound recordings. Noted blues scholar Paul Oliver draws on decades of research and personal interviews with performers--some of whom he "discovered" and recorded for the first time--to draw a picture of how the blues aesthetic developed, giving new insights into the role blues played in American society before racial integration.

Blues - W. C. Handy (Editor)
Call Number: M1630.18 .B622 1985
ISBN: 0306762447
Publication Date: 1985-01-01
Originally published in 1926, this classic collection of great blues songs is arranged for piano and voice. Among the first black men to write and publish blues music, Handy did more than anyone else to make blues popular and accepted. Considered the most famous blues collection in history, it includes historical notes, tunes and arrangements, notes for each song, a bibliography, and a chart of guitar chords.

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Blues Legacies and Black Feminism - Angela Y. Davis
Call Number: ML3521 .D355 1999
ISBN: 0679771263
Publication Date: 1999-01-26
'Angela Davis's book is a complete revelation to me and a serious re-education.' Toni Morrison From the author of 'Women, Race & Class' comes a brilliant analysis of the blues which provides the historical, social and political contexts with which to reinterpret the performances and lyrics of Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday as the articulation of a black, working- class, feminist consciousness at odds with mainstream American culture.

Blues Empress in Black Chattanooga - Michelle R. Scott
Call Number: ML420 .S667 S36 2008
ISBN: 9780252033384
Publication Date: 2008-08-04
As one of the first African American vocalists to be recorded, Bessie Smith is a prominent figure in American popular culture and African American history. Michelle R. Scott uses Smith's life as a lens to investigate broad issues in history, including industrialization, Southern rural to urban migration, black community development in the post-emancipation era, and black working-class gender conventions.

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Can't Be Satisfied: the life and times of Muddy Waters - Robert Gordon
Call Number: ML420 .M748 G67 2002
ISBN: 0316328499
Publication Date: 2002-05-23
Muddy Waters invented electric blues and created the template for the rock and roll band and its wild lifestyle. Gordon excavates Muddy's mysterious past and early career, taking us from Mississippi fields to postwar Chicago street corners.

We'll Understand It Better by and By: pioneering African American gospel composers - Bernice Johnson Reagon (Editor)
Call Number: ML390 .W274 1992
ISBN: 1560981660
Publication Date: 1993-02-01
From the congregations of small African churches in Memphis, Philadelphia, and Chicago to the nationwide fans of the Golden Gate Quartet, Mahalia Jackson, Sam Cooke, Edwin Hawkins and others, gospel music has profoundly influenced American culture. This book brings together some of the best pioneering composers and shows the impact of their work.

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Close Harmony: a history of southern gospel - James R. Goff
Call Number: ML3187 .G64 2002
ISBN: 0807826812
Publication Date: 2002-03-25
Comprehensive and richly illustrated, Close Harmony traces the development of the music known as southern gospel from its antebellum origins to its twentieth-century emergence as a vibrant musical industry driven by the world of radio, television, recordings, and concert promotions.

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Films & CDs

These are a selection of films and CDs featuring Blues and Gospel Music and are available for checkout at Olin Library. 

Blues and the Alligator - DVD - Downing, Jim
Call Number: ML3521 .B58 2010
Publication Date: 2010
Film about famous Chicago blues label, Alligator Records featuring icons such as Koko Taylor and Sonny Boy Williamson as well as newer school blues artists like Kenny Neal and Lucky Peterson. The folks at Alligator started a love affair with the blues 40 years ago and this is the story of the first 20 years.

Two worlds one heart [sound recording] - Ladysmith Black Mambazo (Musical group)
Call Number: M1834.18.L32 T86 1990
Publication Date: 1990

Blues rock [sound recording] - Marsdom, Bernie. cmp
Call Number: M1 .M37 2000
Publication Date: 2000

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Godfathers and sons [videorecording] - Scorsese, Martin.
Call Number: DVD ML3521 .G64 2003X
ISBN: 0738903892
Publication Date: 2003
Hip-hop legend Chuck D and Marshall Chess return to Chicago to explore the heyday of Chicago blues as they unite to produce music that seeks to bring veteran blues players together with contemporary hip-hop musicians such as Common and members of the Roots. Along with archival footage of Howlin' Wolf are original performances by Koko Taylor, Otis Rush, Magic Slim, Ike Turner and Sam Lay.


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