Story of the Blues: An Empire risen from the ashes of the Plantation

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Story of the Blues

By Harshil Shil/Creative Yatra

Blues is referred to as the origin of modern western music. From jazz to hard rock, most of the genres that we listen to were created by artists who were inspired by the blues. But where did the blues come from and how did it evolve?

“I’ll never, I’ll never
Get out of these blues alive
You know I’m doomed to the blues,
I’ll be doomed till the day I die”

– John Lee Hooker

There is a deep history when it comes to understanding where the Blues really came from. As the name suggests, in the simplest terms, it is music that came, primarily, from your blues—one’s melancholia, longing and despondency. And as times passed, it became an embodiment of expressing one’s deepest emotions. However, with the introduction of electronic instruments and revolutionary musicians, Blues slowly transformed giving birth to multiple new genres like jazz and rock & roll.

Blues wasn’t born in any studio, or a pub. It came from the American plantations in the 19th century. The African-American who worked as slaves in these plantations were bearers of some of the most heinous atrocities known to humankind. They were sold, beaten, killed, and treated like animals. In such times, they used to play music with some guitars and drums to ease their pain. The beats were similar to their African culture and their lyrics would be very descriptive of their struggles.

While singing at religious choirs and doing their chores, it became a popular phenomenon amongst them, and there were groups throughout the nation that would meet and forget their worries by playing music.

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