A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews and American Popular Song

A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews and American Popular Song

By: Jeffrey Melnick (author)Hardback

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"Black-Jewish relations," Jeffrey Melnick argues, has mostly been a way for American Jews to talk about their ambivalent racial status, a narrative collectively constructed at critical moments, when particular conflicts demand an explanation. Melnick elaborates this idea through an in-depth look at Jewish songwriters, composers, and performers who made "Black" music in the first few decades of this century. He shows how Jews such as George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Al Jolson, and others were able to portray their "natural" affinity for producing "Black" music as a product of their Jewishness, while simultaneously depicting Jewishness as a stable white identity. Melnick also contends that this cultural activity competed directly with Harlem Renaissance attempts to define Blackness. Moving beyond the narrow focus of advocacy group politics, this book enriches our understanding of the cultural terrain shared by African Americans and Jews.

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About Author

Jeffrey Melnick is Associate Professor of American Studies at University of Massachusetts Boston.


Introduction: The Languages of Black-Jewish Relations "Yiddle on Your Fiddle": The Culture of Black-Jewish Relations "I Used to Be Color Blind": The Racialness of Jewish Men "Swanee Ripples": From Blackface to White Negro "Lift Ev'ry Voice": African American Music and the Nation "Melancholy Blues": Making Jews Sacred in African American Music Epilogue: The Lasting Power of "Black-Jewish Relations" Notes Index

Product Details

  • publication date: 01/03/2001
  • ISBN13: 9780674005662
  • Format: Hardback, Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 288
  • ID: 9780674005662
  • weight: 408
  • ISBN10: 067400566X

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