#38 – The Harlem Renaissance (Part 2)

One of the lasting legacies of the Harlem Renaissance was that it gave African Americans a united culture. Previously, middle-class black people living in New York had tried to integrate with the local white population. What the literature and music gave them was a cultural heritage to be proud of. It blended the soul and jazz of the southern immigrants with the piano, considered a more middle-class instrument than the brass of the jazz band and a staple of the more affluent New York African Americans.

While it has its critics – they argue that the movement relied too much on the white establishment to be heard – the impact it had on drama, literature and music is too good not to be appreciated. Soul, Funk, Rock & Roll, R&B (the old kind) and Hip Hop, not to mention the Stax and Motown labels, all stem from the melting pot that was the Harlem music scene. Consequently the 80’s counter-culture music also exists because of the movement (or maybe that’s stretching it a little. I do like the idea that Nazi-Punk music exists because of what was going on in a black suburb in the 1920’s though…)

Any how, here are four songs that I consider to be among some of my favourites and that probably wouldn’t have been written without the cultural emancipation that the Harlem Renaissance allowed.

Ella Fitzgerald – Cry Me A River [Buy]

Sam Cooke – Cupid [Buy]

James Brown – Night Train [Buy]

Jamie Lidell – Multiply [Buy]

If you want to read more on the Alvin Ailey American Dance theatre you can check them out here. For more on the Harlem Renaissance you can look at the Wikipedia page or here.

1 Comment

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One response to “#38 – The Harlem Renaissance (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: Renaissance Labels

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