The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

Its Nature, Instruments, Sources, Sounds, Development & Performers

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Wallace during a television program in 1957, Mahalia Jackson was asked: "You've heard the traditional blues songs of Bessie Smith and other artists... How do they differ from gospel songs in the way they make you feel when you hear them or sing them?" Miss Jackson's answer was: "Anyone who sings the blues has a broken spirit—they are burdened and they sing the blues to relieve that feeling that they have. Being oppressed or worried about something and not knowing God, they've sought a way of trying to relieve themselves . . . you get relief from spiritual songs, but you don't get real relief when you sing the blues, because the spiritual song has divine power behind it and lifts man up, but the blues makes you feel moody and sad and makes you cry."
Wallace said: "You are now in great demand as a gospel singer, but back in the 1920s a good many ministers prohibited that kind of singing in church~isn t that a fact?" Miss Jackson answered: "Well, not too many. In any race of people there are some that like the hymn, some like the spiritual and some like the one that has the jolly beat like the kind I like to sing-one that I say is full of fire."6
The last of the six principal elements from which jazz derived is the minstrel show, which began about 1800 when a young singer from Germany, Gottlieb Graupner, did a blackface act at a Boston theater, introducing himself as "The Gay Negro Boy." All through the nineteenth century and into the first decades of the twentieth, the full-sized minstrel show was a firmly estab­lished form of entertainment in which, by developing parodies and satires of various Negro characters, the white performers in effect evolved folk music approaches of their own, which in turn were taken back and used in altered form by Negro performers.
Composers of the mid-nineteenth century whose work had the greatest impact on this field included Daniel Decatur Emmett, composer of Dixie's Land, better known as Dixie (written and composed expressly for Bryant's Minstrels) and Stephen Foster, whose works have an unmistakably ragtime flavor. Basically Oh! Susanna, Camptown Races and Old Folks at Home (better