By Christopher Wilkinson
The coal fields of West Virginia would appear an not likely marketplace for giant band jazz in the course of the nice melancholy. filthy rich African American viewers ruled through these concerned with the coal used to be there for jazz excursions would appear both unbelievable. Big Band Jazz in Black West Virginia, 1930-1942 exhibits that, opposite to expectancies, black Mountaineers flocked to dances by means of the masses, commonly touring substantial distances to listen to bands led by way of count number Basie, Duke Ellington, Andy Kirk, Jimmie Lunceford, and Chick Webb, between a variety of others. certainly, as one musician who toured the country may keep in mind, "All the bands have been goin' to West Virginia."
The comparative prosperity of the coal miners, because of New Deal business guidelines, used to be what attracted the bands to the kingdom. This examine discusses that prosperity in addition to the bigger political surroundings that supplied black Mountaineers with a level of autonomy no longer skilled additional south. writer Christopher Wilkinson demonstrates the significance of radio and the black press either in introducing this song and in holding black West Virginians modern with its most modern advancements. The booklet explores connections among neighborhood marketers who staged the dances and the nationwide administration of the bands that performed these engagements. In studying black audiences' aesthetic personal tastes, the writer unearths that many black West Virginians hottest dancing to numerous tune, not only jazz. eventually, the publication exhibits bands now linked virtually solely with jazz have been greater than keen to meet these viewers personal tastes with preparations in different varieties of dance music.
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Additional info for Big Band Jazz in Black West Virginia, 1930-1942
2 percent of the state’s total population of 1,901,974 (Sixteenth Census of the United States 1940 1941. 1 Fig. 1. The Northern (Fairmont) and Southern Coalfields with those counties highlighted that had significant African American populations during the 1930s. County seats are also identified. (West Virginia University–University Relations–Design) That this growth in the black population was linked to the coal industry is also documented by census data that consistently show that throughout the first four decades of the twentieth century the vast majority of African American Mountaineers resided in just two regions of the state.
Christine Chang facilitated my examination of several important government documents. The creation of maps and the final preparation of all of the illustrations was ably handled by Sue Crist, manager of design in the University Relations department of West Virginia University. A particular word of thanks is due Ellen Ressmeyer, Archivist at the Drain-Jordan Library of West Virginia State University in Institute, West Virginia. Over a period of several years she painstakingly collected as many issues as she could locate of the student newspaper, the Yellow Jacket, from the period when West Virginia State College, as it was formerly known, was one of the principal black colleges in the nation.
The second perspective concerns the demography of the audience for this music: who they were, where they resided, what they did for a living. Relying on census data as well as the memories of my informants, I discuss the place of both middle- and working-class black Mountaineers in the cultivation of big band dance music. Finally, I take up the complex issue of the repertory of music played by the touring bands at the numerous dances for which they were engaged. There is unmistakable evidence of a diversity of tastes in dance music: those who were adamant in their preference for hot, swinging jazz, and others as strongly in favor of sweet styles.