Southern popular music from the 1930s and 1940s formed the cultural and social American identity during the period. Although most people suffered from financial hardships, the Southern music provided massive impact for American to go through the hardships. It entertained white and wealthy people, provided ways of escape for African Americans, and expressed the hard lives of laborers.


Fall Fling Swing Dance

In spite of the facts that most of the Southern music rooted from African American culture, some of the genres such as Jazz and Swing The Southern music was entertaining for the white and wealthy people. Historically, African American mainly created new music genre called jazz and began to grow up during the 1930s becoming a mature art form. “Both blacks and whites in the United States performed jazz and the audience was diverse, although in large measure now, the audience for this music is mostly white.” (Jazz and the African American Literary Tradition). As this information implies, even though blacks created the music, a majority of whites enjoyed its exclusive style that could adapt and spread into all other American culture. Not only jazz, but also swing “piqued the interest of thrill-seeking whites” (Teach Rock), and white musicians became the part of mainstream players for swing music.  Consequently, the swing music caught the attention of the white audience and advanced into American pop culture.


Mobile Strugglers

African American in the South during the era not only suffered from financial hardship but also racial segregation, and music provided a sanctuary from their grievances. Gospel is “spiritual music” rooted “African American spiritual” music, which had been around a century before Gospel gained its popularity around the 1930s.(Library of Congress)  To the 1930s, many African American touched by the heartfelt songs and emphasized their hardships with the pains of the people who bounded by slavery.  The Great Depression again was the culprit of the rise of the Blues music in the 1930s. Blues “was sought out and appreciated by many Southern blacks who continued to migrate northward during the decade.”(“Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms” by Sara Pendergast). Obviously, its emphasis on heartbreak, harsh lives of sharecroppers, and the weariness of living and the desire to escape it caused popularity.  Gospel and Blues both earned their fame with themes of economic hardship in their lyrics and songs which made much African American related to and turned to the music for comfort.

Many musicians responded to the social movement and expressed frustration.


Woody Guthrie

“There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me. The sign was painted, said 'Private Property.' But on the backside, it didn't say anything. This land was made for you and me.” (“This land is yours” by Woody Guthrie). He used folk idioms to give expression to the increasingly frustrated working class. Anna Canoni who is a granddaughter of Woody Guthrie depicted him as someone who “just the idea of working together for a greater cause for the world, for the earth, for the people” (Songfacts).

Woody Guthrie- This Land Is Your Land-1

Woody Guthrie- This Land Is Your Land-1

Woody Guthrie- This Land Is Your Land

Aunt Molly Jackson, a folk singer and union activist, witnessed the hardships of low-class laborers and helped them to realize that they’re not alone in being against certain injustices.  On the side of the National Miners Union, she rallied and performed songs such as “I Am a Union Woman,” “Kentucky Miner’s Wife,” and “Dreadful Memories.” (Folk City). One of the biggest events she attended was hosted by “National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners”, and presented in front of twenty-one thousand people in New York City.  Period of the 1930s and 1940s marked as one of the devastating periods of American history.  The protest music of the 1930s and 1940s, however, remained among the era’s most enduring legacies.</p>

<p dir="ltr" style="line-height:2.4;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;text-indent:36pt;">It comes to a surprise that different music has been an expression of different cultures around the world. At the same time, it also represents a universal language that transcends time, generations, and cultures. Southern music of this era provided good entertainment, interest, and constructive pursuit for American people to go through the hardships and also opened new values to the society. Indeed, “Music can change the world because it can change people.”(Bono, U2)</p>

<p dir="ltr" style="line-height:2.4;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;text-indent:36pt;"> </p>

<p dir="ltr" style="line-height:2.4;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;text-indent:36pt;text-align:center;">Works Cited</p>

<p dir="ltr" style="line-height:2.4;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;text-indent:36pt;">“African American Gospel - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America.” The Library of Congress, The Library of Congress, Accessed 24 Apr. 2017.</p>

<p dir="ltr" style="line-height:2.4;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;text-indent:36pt;"> </p>

<p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">“Blues Fiddle.” Blues Fiddle, Accessed 21 Apr. 2017.</p>

<p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">Brown, Jenning. Woody Guthrie. Digital image. Woody Guthrie. Cowboys Indians, 01 July 20012. Web. 22 Apr. 2017. <>.</p>

<p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">Canoni, Anna. “Anna Canoni About Woody Guthrie.” Song Facts, 2017, Accessed 21 Apr. 2017.</p>

<p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">“ESSENTIAL QUESTION.” TeachRock, Accessed 21 Apr. 2017.</p>

<p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">“ Fall Fling Swing Dance .” OxfordWords Blog, Oxford , 10 Feb. 2016, Accessed 23 Apr. 2017.</p>

<p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">Rutaloot. “Woody Guthrie- This Land Is Your Land.”</p>

<p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;margin-left:36pt;"> </p>

<p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;margin-left:36pt;">YouTube, YouTube, 29 Nov. 2008, </p>

<p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;margin-left:36pt;"> </p>

<p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;margin-left:36pt;"> Accessed 22 Apr. 2017.4</p>

<p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.38;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">“ Fall Fling Swing Dance .” OxfordWords Blog, Oxford , 10 Feb. 2016, Accessed 23 Apr. 2017.</p>