By Jeffrey Melnick
All too frequently an incident or coincidence, equivalent to the eruption in Crown Heights with its legacy of bitterness and recrimination, thrusts Black-Jewish kinfolk into the inside track. A volley of dialogue follows, yet little within the means of growth or enlightenment results--and this is often how issues will stay till we noticeably revise the best way we expect concerning the advanced interactions among African american citizens and Jews. A correct to Sing the Blues deals simply one of these revision. "Black-Jewish relations," Jeffrey Melnick argues, has regularly been a manner for American Jews to discuss their ambivalent racial prestige, a story jointly developed at serious moments, whilst specific conflicts call for a proof. Remarkably versatile, this narrative can set up diffuse fabrics right into a coherent tale that has a robust carry on our mind's eye. Melnick elaborates this concept via an in-depth examine Jewish songwriters, composers, and perfomers who made "Black" song within the first few a long time of this century. He exhibits how Jews similar to George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Al Jolson, and others have been in a position to painting their "natural" affinity for generating "Black" song as a made of their Jewishness whereas at the same time depicting Jewishness as a sturdy white identification. Melnick additionally contends that this cultural task competed without delay with Harlem Renaissance makes an attempt to outline Blackness. relocating past the slim concentration of advocacy team politics, this booklet complicates and enriches our figuring out of the cultural terrain shared through African americans and Jews.
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Additional resources for A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews, and American Popular Song
As Berndt Ostendorf has shown, Jews and African Americans were imagined by the mainstream public as ~gures of sexual danger. 32 A few points might be added to these insights. 33 Also, African Americans and Jews were not only objects of this discourse; the musical world provided a space where African Americans and Jews could speak to, and about, each other. Jews in the music business, in particular, drew connections between themselves and African Americans in order to create a narrative about the ethnic origins of the music which then became operational as a national mythology.
Daniel Gregory Mason, a Yankee composer and music theorist, drew an even more explicit cause-and-effect relationship: “Industrialism has provided widespread fatigue: fatigue craves exaggerated physical stimuli combined with a minimum appeal to the mind. ”12 In the welter of issues surrounding ragtime and jazz discourse, what is least well understood is how the sexualized language which swarmed about the music did its work. Few have wanted to consider the actual demographics (particularly of northern urban centers) which led to the sharing and appropriation of cultural materials.
71 The Witmark brothers (with their af~liate in Chicago, Sol Bloom) had commercial relationships with a variety of the most important African American music ~gures of the turn of the century including James Weldon Johnson and his brother J. Rosamond Johnson along with their partner Bob Cole, Ernest Hogan, Harry T. Burleigh, and Paul Laurence Dunbar and his partner Will Marion Cook. Sol Bloom was also responsible for publishing a handbook for playing ragtime which the composer Ben Harney put together.
A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews, and American Popular Song by Jeffrey Melnick