Out of Sight: The Rise of African American Popular Music, 1889-1895

Author: Lynn Abbott, Doug Seroff

Publication date: 2003

American Made Music Series

University Press of Mississippi

"A deluxe, encyclopedic survey of the cultural scene that engendered the popular music of the twentieth century.

It is a landmark study, based on thousands of music-related references mined by the authors from a variety of contemporaneous sources, especially African American community newspapers. The citations are organized and explained in a way that clears a path through the dense landscape of this neglected period in black music history. Accompanying the text are 150 halftones, also excavated from period sources, offering a broad pictorial canvas of African American music during the years before ragtime's commercial ascendancy.

Out of Sight examines musical personalities, issues, and events in context. It confronts the inescapable marketplace concessions musicians made to the period's prevailing racist sentiment. With detail never available in a book before, it describes the worldwide travels of jubilee singing companies, the plight of the great black prima donnas, and the evolutions of "authentic" African American minstrels. With its access to newspapers and photos, Out of Sight puts a face on musical activity in the insular black communities of the day.

Drawing on hard-to-access archival sources and song collections, the book is of crucial importance for understanding the roots of jazz, blues, and gospel. It is essential for comprehending the evolution and dissemination of African American popular music from 1900 to the present. Out of Sight paints a rich picture of musical variety, personalities, issues, and changes during the period that shaped American popular music and culture for the next hundred years."

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