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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Willie-O Can white folks sing the blues? (66* d) RE: Can white folks sing the blues? 14 Jun 00


An article in Sing Out! about Henry Sapoznik reported this. Sapoznik started out with an interest in mountain music which led him to learn fiddle from the late Tommy Jarrell, a well-remembered authentic southern fiddler and teacher. Tommy Jarrell liked the young people that came his way, many of whom indeed were young Jewish men like Sapoznik, but never completely understood why they were so interested in the southern mountain music he played all his life. One day he asked Sapoznik, "Don't your people got any music of their own?", and rather suddenly Henry Sapoznik realized that they did, but he'd never thought about playing it. He went on to basically start the Klezmer revival, so you can sort of attribute that to a politically incorrect remark by an old hillbilly. Good thing he asked that awkward question!

Another incident concerning racial attitudes towards music was related by Pete Seeger. He played a long repetitive song, probably a Child ballad, in a black Southern church which prompted an elderly woman to remark, "If this is white peoples' music, I don't think much of it." When you're used to the harmony and dynamics of black gospel singing, long literary-type pieces with little variation--the kind of thing I like, sometimes--can be hard to take. One's performance of them might be improved by keeping this in mind.

I guess my point if I have one is that asking these uncomfortable questions can have surprisingly positive effects, sometimes.

Hey, was that really Martin Mull?

My cookie ain't working, but it wasn't me.

Willie-O


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