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Chicago Before Pop Culture

Chicago Before Pop Culture
Chicago Before Pop Culture
Marcus Dayton Bailey

The Midwest isn’t just about commerce switching hands traveling to the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean. It’s also about culture trying to find a new level, and a new life. Congo square is a far walk from the City of Chicago. A place of union and music for enslaved black bodies in Pre Abolition America, Congo Square became the birthplace of true original American music. The spirit of that movement pollenated through the channels of the Great Migration, settling in Chicago in the early 1900’s. Muddy Waters and Benny Goodman injected the blues and ragtime of the South with electricity and classicism, presenting it to the masses .

Muddy Waters, aka McKinley Morganfield, was a Southern grown migrant who drove himself into stardom by coming to the Midwest. His combination of Delta Blues and electric guitar formed Rock and Roll, the sound that controlled the air waves from the 1960’s British Invasion into our relevant society. Proof of this can be seen in Waters’ song, “Rolling Stone”. Two iconic Rock and Roll organizations have adopted the name of that song honorably: Rolling Stones Magazine and the Liverpool based epic band, the Rolling Stones.

Benny Goodman, a Jewish clarinetist, became White America’s poster boy for the Jazz genre, Swing, a development with roots in Ragtime. Goodman’s publicity and ability to fill up venues, such as Carnegie Hall gave the majority of America a reason to approve of Jazz. A Chicago native, Goodman went pro before he went to high school. His leadership in a segregated era gave the U.S. a theme song for the 1920’s.

Out of jazz came Herbie Hancock, a Chicagoan who played with Miles Davis, in his Cool years, and went on to become a star in his own right. The genius of Hancock backed several groundbreaking elements to modern music. The composer of the Fat Albert sound track, Hancock was one of the first artist to have a video played on MTV when MTV actually played videos. His electronic innovator called “Rockit” featured on the 1983 album “Future Shock” became a favorite among break dancers.

Whether it’s Herbie Hancock, easing the early 80’s into the Hip Hop transition, or Bo Diddley doing NIKE Cross trainer commercials with Bo Jackson, Chicago is a Mecca of American and World music. This city is where sound comes to find its maturity. To discover more about how the Second City makes its music please click on the links below.