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Born out of the field hollers, work songs, and spirituals sung by African-American slaves and tenant farmers as they were forced to work in the fields of the South, blues music often speaks of oppression, sadness, and love, topics that transcend racial and ethnic boundaries. Early musicians such as Blind Lemon Jefferson and W. C. Handy established the standards of the genre, with the hit songs "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" and "Memphis Blues," respectively. Their affecting lyrics would later serve as inspiration for future blues performers such as Muddy Waters, Leadbelly, and John Lee Hooker. The blues would become the foundation of nearly every form of American music created in the 20th century, especially jazz, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and hip-hop. Its influence on American music and other artistic forms of expression has been astounding, and blues remains a popular category of music today.
About the Author:
Dick Weissman is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Oregon and the University of Denver