|The Blues is Our Story|
By Brother Yusef
The blues is healing. The blues is freedom. That is the message I take with me everywhere I perform. As an African American blues artist, I feel it is essential to have a clearer understanding of this music. Sadly, the real knowledge of what this music is about is too often overlooked. Blues began out of a need for African Americans to seek healing and freedom in a society that denied them both. This music allowed black folks a way of expressing their humanity in a world that, for 400 plus years, refused them of their humanity. The blues was a way of saying, “we matter.”
I’ve been a professional blues musician for over 25 years. I started playing guitar in 1982 at the age of 19. At the time, being a blues artist was the furthest thing from my mind. My interest was in jazz, reggae, funk, and rock. I just wanted to be good. But I knew enough history to understand that everything I needed to learn about contemporary American music was rooted in the blues. After nine years of learning to play different musical styles, I decided to devote all my energy to the blues. As I began my exploration into the blues world, I noticed a lack of younger black performers like myself. The older legends like BB King, Buddy Guy, and John Lee Hooker were still going strong, but the new crop of black blues artists were missing from the larger mainstream. Was blues being appropriated by white musicians? It seemed African Americans have all but abandoned the genre. I decided to become a full-time blues artist out of a desire to preserve what I consider my cultural birthright. I take special pride in performing the blues and giving honor to my past.
…Find full story at The African Folklorist