Designed as a broad introductory survey, and written by experts in the field, this book examines the rise of American music over the 20th century - the period in which that music came into its own and achieved unprecedented popularity. Beginning with a look at music as a business, 11 essays explore a variety of popular musical genres, including Tin Pan Alley, blues, jazz, country, gospel, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, folk, rap, and Mexican American corridos. Reading these essays, we come to see that the forms created by one group often appeal to, and are in turn influenced by, other groups - across lines of race, ethnicity, class, gender, region and age. The chapters speak to one another, arguing for the primacy of such concepts as minstrelry, urbanization, hybridity and crossover as the most powerful tools for understanding American popular music. Moving beyond outdated music-industry categories and misleading genre labels, while acknowledging the complexities of the market, the book recovers and reinforces the essential blackness of much popular music - even a presumably white form like country and western.
In addition to Rachel Rubin and Jeffrey Melnick, contributors include Reebee Garofalo, Geoffrey Jacques, Kip Lornell, Mark Anthony Neal, Millie Rahn, David Sanjek, James Smethurst, Elijah Wald and Gail Hilson Woldu.