From the pre-colonial age, music has been used as a uniting factor in the community. It influences culture and has been attributed to some of the most significant movements in history. The 1950s were characterized by rising segregation and racism, where African Americans mostly worked as slaves and were expected to collaborate with their masters. Research shows that “their rights were severely limited, and they were long denied a rightful share in the economic, social, and political progress of the United States” (Lynch, 2020, para. 2). Rhythm-and-Blues and Rock-n-Roll rose in the 1950s and became the most dominant music genre among the youth. Rhythm-and-Blues and Rock-n-Roll had one similarity: both were performed by African Americans, although some were produced by Native Americans. The two genres represented an awakening that called for the integration of black performers in the white-dominated music industry.
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The rise of Rhythm-and-Blues and Rock-n-Roll is attributed to two factors: the civil rights movement and technological change. Many young people were tired of the segregation witnessed in schools and religious organizations where African Americans were denied the freedom of expression and association. Rock-n-Roll was also used by slaves in plantations to communicate about their civil rights while their masters were fooled into thinking that the slaves were singing happy celebration songs (Hill, 2020). In the 1950s, significant technological changes were witnessed, whereby the TV threatened to replace the traditional radio in the entertainment industry. Rhythm-and-Blues and Rock-n-Roll came as a solution for safeguarding the place of radio in entertainment and communication. These two types of music dominated other genres, such as country and bebop because; unlike the former, the latter was performed mainly by white Americans. The youth at this time was oriented toward change and civil rights, and Rhythm-and-Blues and Rock-n-Roll were the perfect music genres that communicated their need and fit the technological changes at the time.
Hill, T. (2020). The enemy within: Censorship in rock music in the 1950s. Present Tense, 5(2), 39-72. Web.
Lynch, H. (2020). African Americans. Encyclopedia Britannica.