America’s Music History

I know I am only 18 but the music of the past is very interesting, and although my favorite style of music is Rap there are many singers of the past that really interest me. From the 1950s to 1980s music has come from severe changes but on thing stays the same, these musicians are big influences on todays music stars no matter who they are. Some of the top musicians are modeled after many musicians and the era in which they came from, the following are four major eras of music in the U.S. most of which will seem like you know, while some of it not to well.

1920s and the birth of vocals and jazz

Ah yes the rich mans music, but at the time jazz was not for the rich man, in fact Jazz was built for the people mainly African Americans. With artists such as Duke Ellington and Langston Hughes, Jazz was possibly the greatest thing to happen to the U.S. because it lead to so much other music styles like rock and roll and soul, but most of all Rhythm and Blues that we all know today. At the time jazz was purely American and the most popular music of the people on top of being a different type of music not heard before.

1930s through 1940s – easy listening

As jazz continued to grow in popularity so did people adding lyrics to music, so it was not unusual to hear a poem read to the beat of Duke Ellington and his “American Music”. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s great singers especially Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin each scored hits cementing there spots in American pop culture and American culture itself. Easy listening is well known around the world and though much of it was cut out after the 1950s, many hits were still spawned in that era like “That’s Amore” by Dean Martin in 1952.

1950s – the Malt shop and Doo wop rhythm and blues

Personally this is my favorite type of music of the past with singers like Bobby Rhydell, Elvis Presley, Frankie Valli, Bobby Darin, on top of up and coming Rhythm and Blues singers Little Richard, Chubby Checker made this era the birth of Musical awareness in America. This Awareness came from one artist who many said had the ability to blend two types of music, the king himself Elvis Presley, his career lasted years and made him the biggest star in the world until the 1980s when he was dethroned by another king. With Elvis there was a widespread interest in the new type of music called rock and roll, an interest that spawned Johnny Cash whose outlaw country was a mix of rock and classic country. That was not all though with these artists there were also many African American artists wanting to get into singing, these singers include Chubby Checker, and Little Richard, but unlike them there were other artists that created a music for the Black race in America these were James Brown, Ray Charles and much more. The revolutionary music that these pioneers created spawned great music for the culture of a race and changed the landscape of America.

1960s – a change in the aspect of music

It’s 1960 and America is trying to win a war they get themselves into, and thanks to this there were many of songs about it, but nothing not even the war prepared music for the British Invasion led by Fab four Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. The British Invasion was not the only thing shaking up music because there is now also an official music for the African American people led by singers like the Temptations, Stevie Wonder and The Jackson 5. Throughout the 1960s America was in turmoil, and music was used to further the cause of peace, and they are seen in the hippie movement a movement that used music based on drugged up singers and psychedelic musicians such as Jimi Hendrix. At this time there was so many types of music floating around nobody today could pick which was their favorite.

1970s – arena rock and the birth of pop

During the 1970s many of 1960s psychedelic rock stayed with some getting high honors like Grammies, but after a few years have passed that type of rock died out and gave way to arena rock legends like KISS. The music of the 1970s were based mainly on rock with a few good R & B songs coming out of it unlike other decades the music of the 1970s were leading to something that would change the world, but the music did not change anything until late in the 1970s after government began changing as well. Arena rock made metal famous a few years later, but at this time a new king was being born and in just a few years he was going take the world by storm.

1980s pop, rock, new wave, rap and Michael?

As the title shows there was a major change in music in the 1980s some that lasted, some that are immortal, and some that were just plain weird. During the 1980s the majority of the charts were ruled by Michael Jackson, the king of pop was and still is one of the top selling artists of all time. His music is legendary and is still being listened to today making him the top selling artists in the 1980s. The 1980s was not just about Michael though, in fact throughout the 1980s the rock genre had gone through so many different changes most of which were for the best some of which were just down right creepy. Artists like Tears for fears and many others embraced the new wave techno sound making a revolution in music, but sadly a revolution that never caught on which either saved or killed rock as a whole. The last few years of the 1980s bring in a new type of music, a type that continues to this day, a type that I call my favorite. Rap comes to the mainstream at the end of the 1980s bringing in artists like Run DMC the official kings of Rap, this music is possibly the most controversial type of music, but a type eventually everyone starts to like.

After the 1990s, music goes through many changes with boy band and Tupac and gangsta rap. But one thing is for certain: Music will continue to change, after all just look at how far we have come from the 1920s.

A History of Music in Muscle Shoals, Alabama

When most people think about music production and recording, they think L.A., New York City, Atlanta, or maybe even Nashville. Of course there’s no denying these places have certainly had their fair share of hit and star output, but one little known fact is most of the popular music during the 60’s and 70’s was recorded in the Shoals area of Alabama. (“Shoals” is short for Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, and Sheffield, Alabama)

Formally known as the “Hit recording capitol of the world,” Muscle Shoals has played host to some of the best and most famous artists and bands through out some of the most important and historical eras of music. Most people do not know the rich musical heritage the area has. For instance, born in Florence in 1873, W.C. Handy, “the father of the blues,” could be considered the pioneer of the Shoals long and vast musical tradition. Following Handy, in 1923, Sam Phillips, “the father of rock-n-roll,” was also born in Florence. Phillips later went on to record songs sung by some of the biggest names in rock-n-roll such as Elvis and Johnny Cash.

Today, the Quad-cities are still full of recording studios ranging from little in-home set ups to some of the more renowned studios such as FAME. There are over twenty recording studios still in use today in the area. FAME is probably the most famous of these. Located in Muscle Shoals, FAME has had many famous faces within its walls. A few of these faces include Aretha Franklin, Donny Osmond, Little Richard, and The BackStreet Boys. Another very famous recording studio in the area is New Cyprus Moon Studio located in Sheffield right on the river. Formally known as Muscle Shoals Sound, it is also located in Sheffield. Famous musicians who have recorded there include Cher, The Rolling Stones, Lynard Skynard and Willie Nelson.

Though the Muscle Shoals is not longer the recording capitol of the world, the area is still packed with a huge variety of talent. Musicians of all ages coming from countless different background can be heard and seen quite often. There are always local musicians playing live at various events and venues all around the Shoals. So when in town or near by, be sure to check out some of the local music and see for yourself just how musical the area really is.

-One of the best time periods to catch live acts in the area is during Handy Fest which lasts from late June into early August. Handy Fest is a fun spirited and eventful celebration in which the entire Shoals area honors W.C. Handy by having up to two weeks of back to back, night after night live music scattered all over the area.