TO AMERICA, WITH LOVE: “The Music Of America”

“Let the (American) music play…”

All Americans, no matter what their race, creed, sex, color, or religion, love music of all different shapes, sizes and formats; The musical history of this great nation of ours that we call the United States of America has many styles of music, including folk, popular, and classical; The first to create American music were the Native Americans, consisting of hundreds of ethnic groups across the country, each of them with their own styles of folk music.

A large-scale immigration of English, Spanish, and French settlers had brought new kinds of folk music by the 16th century, while this had been followed by the importation of Africans as slaves, bringing their music with them. The Africans, like the Native Americans, were culturally varied, having been descended from hundreds of ethnic groups in West Africa. Like so many of its hemispheric neighbors, American music is a mixture of African, European, and a little bit of native influences; As the United States grew into a melting pot of different peoples, so did the ethnic and musical diversity later on in our country’s history.

Later on, the African-Americans had been freed from slavery following the Civil War in the 19th century; Their music has become a mixture of Scottish and African origin. The popular songs during that time were work songs and field hollers, but the one thing that would become a major foundation for the African-Americans were the spirituals, or Negro spirituals, in the 20th Century. Spirituals were Christian songs, and they had been dominated by the earthly and passionate vocals that were similar to the church music of Scotland; Spirituals were performed in an African and Scottish call-and-response format using hymns that had been derived from those sung in colonial New England choirs, based on Moravian, English, and Dutch church music. Spirituals spread south through Appalachia in the late 18th century, and that was where they were partnered with the music of the African slaves. Meanwhile, Appalachian folk music became born through the styles of jug bands, honky-tonk, and bluegrass, while becoming the root of what we know now as country music.

American popular music had been through the ages divided by many styles and genres: In addition to country music, there is jazz and blues; Marches, especially featuring ones done by John Phillip Sousa, as well as Gospel. Blues would then become the basis for what we all know as rock & roll in the late 1940s/early 1950s; At the same time, the youth culture had arise and Frank Sinatra became the very first teenage idol, making teenage girls of the 1940s swoon with delight.

In the 1950s, there was another kind of music that had become popular: Doo-Wop, which happens to be a type of vocal music, leaving its mark on 1960s soul as well as R&B. Meanwhile, Latin music, in which Americans had imported from Cuba and Mexico, became popular briefly during the 1950s; While over yonder in Louisiana, the Creole and Cajun communities saw their local music turn into a brief mainstream fad throughout the 1950s, due largely to the work of a man by the name of Clifton Chenier, who began recording for Specialty Records in 1955-He took the music of the Cajun and Creole while adding more elements of rock & roll, and VIOLA: The result was an all-new style called Zydeco! Chenier would then go on recording for the next thirty more years, releasing over a hundred albums while paving the way for such later stars as Buckwheat Zydeco.

By the early 1960s, American music had changed; Among the most popular sounds of the era were girl groups, surf, and hot rod, as well as the Nashville Sound, while a blues roots revival was present among a smaller portion of the listening audience. And then, in February of 1964, a tidal wave: The Beatles hit the American shores and on The Ed Sullivan Show, sparking the British Invasion, while another kind of music called Psychedelic Rock became the genre of choice with the youth culture. Throughout the late 1960s and all through the 1970s, American music would then go on to grow into these genres: Soul/Funk, Country/Folk, Tejano, Heavy Metal, Outlaw Country, Hip Hop, Salsa, and Punk Rock.

Today, American music still influences us, inspires us, lifts us, and moves us, while it makes us happy, sad, angry, or whatever emotion; On our country’s upcoming 241st birthday, why don’t we celebrate with the music of America.


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