1963 a giant year of literary art and loss

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By Nicosia Smith

“Blues People,” published in 1963, critically looked at the African-American Blues movement.

I say movement, because it was the music used to speak and shape the lives of its originators.

Today, every time I listen to the Blues, it always takes me deep into the emotions of the stories being told.

Sometimes easy to listen to, but often the lyrics are hard and difficult to swallow.

Authored by Amiri Baraka formerly LeRoi Jones, “Blues People” traces Blues from the lips of the slaves to the lips of:

. Louis Armstrong

. Robert Johnson

. Duke Ellington

. Charlie Parker

. Dizzy Gillespie among others

The 50 years since this book, African-American music has gone through a renaissance of sort. The lonely ballads of the Blues are now, Rhythm and Blues and Rap is all the rage. An off shoot of the Blues, Jazz,  continues to strive through Wynton Marsalis and other Big Band musicians.  The music has lived on and continues to diversify.

On January 9, Baraka, known as the first black author to explore the subject died. He was 79. He joined those that died the year he published the book like:

. Medgar Evers

. W.E.B DuBois

And has they say, the story rolls on. And I continue to observe the transformation of the Blues.


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