The racial oppression of black people in many ways has fueled and shaped black musical forms in America. One example is the blues which originated in the rural South among poor, nonliterate, agrarian African Americans.[1] In the North the music became more formalized, and singers such as Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, Mamie Smith, Ida Cox, and Sarah Martin became known as the queens of the “classic blues.” Another musical genre is jazz, which was largely based on the twelve-bar blues harmonic structure and phrasing. It was more “polished” than the earlier New Orleans jazz at the turn of the century, and its major influences came from New York City, Chicago, and Kansas City. Finally, on the religious front, gospel music was in its early stages of development around the time early blues was evolving. Influenced by blues and jazz, gospel was revolutionary (and controversial) in its combination of drums and fast, rocking rhythms.

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