In Memoriam: Mose Allison’s Blues

Column inches in 2016 have been filled by the obituaries of many famous figures including Leonard Cohen, Prince, and David Bowie. As such, Mose Allison, the cult jazz and blues pianist who left the stage last month, may not have received his fair share of recognition. Yet, the complex contradictions of his career and the transatlantic scope of his influence deserve further attention and reflection. Continue reading

“Teaching America” series Round-Up

Throughout September 2015 U.S. Studies Online ran a collaborative series with the Historians of Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS) on the theme of “Teaching America”. The series offers readers an insight into the ongoing conversations around teaching U.S. history in higher education. Catch up on the series in our round-up here. Continue reading

Teaching America ‘Online’: Designing and delivering the Online Distance course ‘A History of the Blues’

The sixth post in the ‘Teaching America’ series is by Dr Christian O’Connell (University of Gloucestershire), author of Blues, How Do You Do? Paul Oliver and the Transatlantic Story of the Blues, who discusses the benefits to online distance learning when teaching the history of U.S. music. Continue reading

The Transatlantic Impact of civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome”

“We Shall Overcome” bridges the civil rights movements in the United States and Northern Ireland, says Glen Whitcroft, but does this overlook the diversity in Northern Ireland protest history? Continue reading

R&B entertainers didn’t take too long to get involved in the civil rights movement

Glen Whitcroft re-evaluates the financial and musical legacy of some of America’s most beloved and commercially successful African American entertainers, such as James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Nina Simone. Continue reading

500 Shades of Blues: ‘Bluesologist’ Gil Scott-Heron’s “H2Ogate Blues” as Meta-performance

For performance scholar Lesley Wheeler, “print exchanges presence for longevity, voice for script” but by including the audience reaction to an already recorded performance for “H2Ogate Blues,” Scott-Heron manages to pay tribute to the longevity of art through a permanent record while simultaneously honouring the presence of the poet in the original performance by putting him in dialog with a second audience … Scott-Heron refuses to substitute the importance of orality and performance that permeated alternative artistic cultures in the 1960s and 1970s, especially the Beat Generation, the Black Arts Movement and the Nuyorican Movement, for the textual condition that has brought artistic expression to the forefront of our everyday lives since the advent of writing and then printing. Continue reading

Black History Month Roundup: U.S. Studies Online Special Series

Throughout October 2014 U.S. Studies Online has published a series of posts by U.K. and U.S.-based academics of all levels in honour of the UK’s Black History Month. This is a round-up of the series all in one place. Continue reading

Fear and Motels in Las Vegas: Segregation and Celebrity on the Strip

Las Vegas was so strict in its segregation policies that it was known as the “Mississippi of the West.”[i] It was, after all, a town built on tourism and to allow blacks in was to affront white tourists from strictly segregated regions. This post looks at the ways that three well-known black entertainers challenged the segregation policies of big hotel casinos in 1950s Las Vegas. Harry Belafonte, Lena Horne and Nat King Cole each won the right for themselves and their musicians to become guests of the establishments. At the same time, the post asks whether the triumphs of these celebrities can be regarded as true civil rights victories, or whether they are simply indicators of individual star status. Continue reading

Re-Imagining the Blues: A Transatlantic Approach to African-American Culture

Revisionists writers, such as Elijah Wald and Marybeth Hamilton, have argued that representations [of the blues] by white and, therefore, ‘alien’ observers during the post-war blues revival of the 1950s and 1960s distorted historical truths, and ‘invented’ the blues as we know it […] The work of [blues writer] Paul Oliver … is representative of the fact that meanings and representations of African American music and culture have been constructed within a transatlantic context. […] His work demonstrates how the blues became a reified ideal constructed in opposition to the forces of modernity, represented by the commercial music industry and the growth of teenage oriented pop in the 1950s and 1960s. African American music became a source of cultural capital for those that were disillusioned with Western consumerism and mass culture in the post-war era. Continue reading