Blues music first arrived in New York during the early part of the 20th century, before quickly spreading to more rural areas.
Many of the listeners in New York were often more affluent and as such New York Blues gained a touch more Jazz to its style, and a little more sophisticated. However, in doing so it lost some of the urban elements that country Blues possesses and therefore some people view New York Blues as having less of an emotional effect.
Despite those who views New York Blues as a perversion of the more classical Blues, it went on to fuse with stride (an advanced form of ragtime) and became highly evolved, notably in the compositions of James P. Johnson in the 1920s.
As time past New York became a melting pot for musical styles, and New York Blues continued its evolution. Although it wouldn’t be right to talk about the history of Blues Music and not discuss the musicians that helped shape it.
Born Mabel Louise Smith this Tennessee girl won top honors at a Memphis amateur contest at just eight years old, since then she has become well known for her powerful and gravelly voice and her towering stature, and although she began her career singing Country Blues, the Jazz scene eventually seeped into her style of music too.
Another notable musician who helped shape New York Blues was Jesse Stone, also known by his pseudonyms Charles Calhoun and Chuck Calhoun.
Stone grew up in Kansas surrounded by a wide variety of musical styles, and coming from a musical family of Minstrels it’s not hard to see why he turned out as talented as he did.
Having played music in a vast variety of Genres, Stone was able to use his expertise to add a unique flare to his version of New York Blues, and Blues wasn’t the only form of music he helped evolve.
Ahmet Ertegün once stated that “Jesse Stone did more to develop the basic rock ‘n’ roll sound than anybody else.” And he continued to shape music up until his death at the age of 97.
New York Blues is still a popular genre to this day, with many bars scattered around The Big Apple dedicated to Blues alone, not to mention the various genres that sprang from a mix of Blues and Jazz such as Stride and Swing Music, which has a very Danceable and Catchy style.
Although it’s unlikely that the years to come with see as much change to New York Blues as it did in the previous Century, it will definitely continue to be a dominating force in the music industry.