One of the most popular genres of American popular music is Blues, popularly known as rhythm and blues(R&B). This genre of music is said to have been created by African Americans and is probably one of the new art forms since the beginning of modernity. The genre was developed at the turn of the 20th century and it consisted of songs that are full of irony, imagery and love (Evans, 1982).
The world of blues has had many changes since the beginning of the century to date. Take for example artists such as Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday who sold millions during their time. Others such as Willie Dixon and John Lee Hooker also developed this genre especially in the 1940’s and 1950’s. The most recent singers of blues are artists such as B.B King and Stevie Ray Vaughan. In the contemporary music industry we also have artists such as Tyrese, Mary J Blige among others.
Looking at Bessie Smith’s song “I like to live the love”, it is notable that she uses a more jazzy technique of presentation especially in her instrumentation. The way she perform the song will also tell you that she superbly blends emotions to the song. The lyrics to the song are emotive, original and unique.
Willie Dixon on the other hand borrows greatly from the old way of performance. Looking at the song “Move me” you can tell that Dixon has followed the steps of Bessie Smith but has some difference. The difference he brings however is that he now uses the amplified guitar in his instrumentation. His songs are now with a lot of bass, drums, harmonicas in play with the blue notes and the piano.
Some of the contemporary artists in the R&B genre such as Tyrese help to show how blues have evolved. There has been an introduction of feminism in the genre such that women are used most often as the background dancers in video clips and they are majorly the subjects in most of the songs. Considering his song “Sweet Lady”, one can easily note that it has been arranged in such a way that it blends with the soul and jazz music and adds a bit of the rap beat to his song. It is unique and shows some kind of maturity especially in the instrumentation. The song is about his lady and is directed to the females- it is about the woman.
There has been a great change in the trend of the blues with the songs changing form merely expressing the heart and showing love to the modern times blues where the femininity and masculinity was brought out. For instance the song by backstreet boys shows this transformation.