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Blues Legacies & Black Feminism Research Paper



  • Davis, Angela. “Blame It On The Blues: Bessie Smith, Gertrude ‘Ma” Rainey, and the Politics of Blues Protest.” Blues Legacies and Black Feminism. Random House, 1998.
  • Chp. 6 of Wald, Elijah. Blues: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. 2010

Part One:
Briefly describe how “classic” blues lyrics were typically constructed and elaborate on the type of themes that they commonly explored by referencing at least one specific example from EACH of (1) and (2) above [NOTE: please provide author and page # for each example]. Do you think blues lyrics, and song lyrics more generally, should be considered poetry? Were ideas about originality and borrowing different back then? Can you give an example of a contemporary song that you find to be particularly poetic and/or particularly inflected by a blues ethos?

Part Two
Write your own blues song lyrics comprising at least 3 choruses of the standard 12-bar AAB form—so at least 9 total lines of text broken into 3 stanzas or verses with 3 lines each. Your song should offer either socio-political commentary or an evocative and emotional telling of a specific event in your life presented in a way that can resonate more generally. In constructing your lyrics, examine carefully the examples provided in (1) and (2) and use poetic devices such as rhyme, repetition, double or coded meaning, allusion, personification, etc. In addition to presenting your lyrics, briefly explain why you constructed your lyrics the way that you did.

total word length = 500-1200

Part Three – record yourself singing your blues lyrics (or rhythmically reciting them, if you prefer) to one of the musical accompaniment tracks provided. Try experimenting with different styles until you find one that works for you. You will be graded on your effort and not on the quality of the final result.
Have fun! You are also welcome to create your own musical accompaniment if you wish.

You will need to submit 2 files, one for the written portion (parts 1 & 2) and one for the recording (part 3). Please do not embed your audio file into a word document (this will not work).

Use the + Add Another File option to submit your second assignment. 


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