Strings Attached: Black Musicians in String-bands in the American South, 1920 - 1950

  • Author / Creator
    Danser, Kathleen A.
  • Black musicians in string-bands in the American South during the period 1920–1950 were remarkably resilient to social, political, and cultural forces while also actively creating cultural products. The breadth of their musical activities and networks of interconnectivity expands our knowledge and indicates significant contributions to black cultural productions during this period of time. Their imprint on the fabric of American popular music is indelible, characterized by adaptive, innovative, and creative practices. Centering this discussion on black musicians and their activities in string-bands highlights their diversity as it relates to genre, musicianship, and the navigation of varied performance spaces.

        Black musicians who performed in string-bands had highly developed skills on their instruments and were recognized as experts on their instru-ments and as professionals in the music industry. Those with long music careers had deep networks of connections to and mentorship from other professional musicians, along with a flexible repertoire that would allow them to adapt to any audience in any context, a performative stratagem, an understanding of how to prolong their lives as independent musicians, and the freedom to travel. The early musical career of Gus “Banjo Joe” Cannon from Clarksdale, Mississippi and, later, nearby Memphis, Tennessee is one example of many who demonstrate the aforementioned qualities and focus this dissertation. 

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
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