Brown University Exhibit Features the African American Roots of Popular Music

Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, recently opened a new exhibit that explores the African American roots of popular music and show business in the United States. The exhibit, “Bamboula! Black Music Before the Blues,” will be on display at the university’s John Hay Library through May 5.

The exhibit includes nineteenth- and early twentieth-century books, sheet music, concert posters, songbooks, and other artifacts. The exhibit was curated by John Davis, a concert pianist and Brown University alumnus. Davis contributed some of his own collection to the exhibit.

“The trans-oceanic dynamic triggered by the African slave trade played a foundational role in the development of jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll,” Davis said, “and initiated a set of structural parameters and comedic archetypes that have become hallmarks of the American performing arts in theater, film, radio and television.”

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