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The Product of Our SoulsRagtime, Race, and the Birth of the Manhattan Musical Marketplace$
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David Gilbert

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469622699

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469622699.001.0001

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Rhythm is Something that is Born in the Negro

Rhythm is Something that is Born in the Negro

The Clef Club Orchestra and the Consolidation of Negro Music

(p.163) Chapter Six Rhythm is Something that is Born in the Negro
The Product of Our Souls

David Gilbert

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines Europe's role in producing and selling his music ensembles, the role of the labor union, and developments in rhythmic black music more generally in New York City between 1910 and 1912. Europe capitalized on opportunities to break into social dance markets before World War I. Although never completely divorced from minstrel performance and its cultural legacies, Europe's music, uplift agenda, and professionalism challenged normative representations of African Americans throughout New York and the United States more broadly. Yet his successes also helped narrow the meaning of black ragtime, turning it from a commercially produced American cultural commodity into the exclusive cultural expression of African Americans. As Europe both reinforced and challenged stereotypical understandings of black culture, he continued to seduce white cultural elites by fulfilling their assumptions about the natural and inherent racial difference.

Keywords:   ragtime, James Reese Europe, black culture, racial difference, Clef Club Orchestra, black music

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