“Rhythm, Tradition, Britain and the Blues”
This dissertation is a transnational, cross-genre investigation of British black music revivals between 1951-1964 that examines issues of racial representation, identity politics, and mediation in the appropriation of black sound. During this period, for the first time in British history, the average white music listener consumed popular genres affiliated with African American and Afro-Caribbean culture. Through the appropriation and (re)presentation of New Orleans-style jazz, black ballads and blues, R&B and ska, this revivalist consumption contested transatlantic notions of the relationship between music and race. Drawing tools from musicology, sociology, critical race theory, media studies and cultural studies, this dissertation reassembles—through close readings of contemporaneous popular music discourse and exemplary musical performances captured on commercial sound recordings and television broadcasts—the historical field against which these revivals both reshaped and reinforced generic, social and cultural boundaries and expectations.
Supervisor: David Brackett