The Ways in Which the American Music Industry Influenced and Was Influenced by, the Issue of Racial Prejudice and Segregation During the First Half of the 20th Century

The ways in which the American Music Industry influenced and was influenced by, the issue of racial prejudice and segregation during the first half of the 20th Century

During the first half of the twentieth century, American popular music evolved through a variety of revolutionary stages. Factors to which such changes can be attributed include the existence of racial prejudice and segregation, both of which were protagonists that influenced and were influenced by the American music industry.

One of the main ways in which American music from the first half of the twentieth century influenced the industry and society in general was that it assisted in the process of diminishing barriers of race and class. This is evident with the contribution of James Reese Europe; the African American ragtime and early jazz band leader who directed the Harlem Hell Fighters to great acclaim. Europe’s historic work which included the Carnegie Hall concert of 1912 with his Clef Club Orchestra, allowed him to use the racial and social circumstances surrounding his life, in addition to his music as a tool in breaking down barriers that contributed to social alienation and racial tensions that plagued the United States for much of its early history.

Prior to the formation of Jazz as a distinctly American art form, Europe aided in the development and acceptance of the genre thereby eventually influencing race relations in American culture, as black and white musicians enthusiastically embraced the style. Additionally, Europe was deeply concerned with the working conditions of black musicians and addressed this by establishing the Clef Club in 1910, as a talent agency and trade union for African- American musicians and funded its operations through organised concerts throughout the United States.

Similarly, the American music industry was also given further evidence to justify the acceptance of black musicians and jazz music in particular after the occurrence of the famous...