February 11, 2010

Blazing Through The Blues - Blues Singers Shaping Black Conciousness

In her 1998 book Blues Legacies and Black Feminism, Angela Y. Davis outspoken social activist, feminist and trailblazer herself, uncovers an unusual source of conciousness-raising, the music of 1920's female Blues artists Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday.  Davis not only uncovers the path that these women took to obtain independent financial freedom at a time when historically, women had little if no civil or domestic freedoms.  Davis also takes an important look wading through more prominant issues of racism, to study gender and sexuality about which these women were singing.  A prominant example of these women's work is Ma Rainey's "Prove It On Me," in which she sings about her gender identity and sexual desires for women.  Davis's central thesis is to say that the women Blues singers of the 1920's had a great impact on not only giving a voice to women of the era, but the larger social and political impact on shaping the general African-American conciousness. 

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