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Beyond BlackfaceAfrican Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930$
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W. Fitzhugh Brundage

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834626

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807878026_brundage

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Black Misrepresentation in Nineteenth-Century Sheet Music Illustration

Black Misrepresentation in Nineteenth-Century Sheet Music Illustration

Chapter:
(p.45) Black Misrepresentation in Nineteenth-Century Sheet Music Illustration
Source:
Beyond Blackface
Author(s):

Stephanie Dunson

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/9780807878026_brundage.6

This chapter argues that we must initially turn our attention back to the antebellum decades that saw the rise of the blackface minstrel tradition—when white men in black facepaint entertained northern audiences with songs and skits meant to represent black culture—if we are to appreciate the challenges and expectations that African American entertainers had to contend with in the early era of twentieth-century mass culture. In truth, no music played a more central role in nineteenth-century American culture than the melodies generated by blackface minstrelsy, from the 1820s, when individual blackface performers popularized routines that were meant to reproduce black dance and music for white northern audiences, to the end of the century, when Tin Pan Alley songwriters cranked out “coon songs” for consumers who took racial stereotypes for granted.

Keywords:   antebellum decades, blackface minstrel tradition, black culture, African American entertainers, mass culture

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