A Study of the Life and Legacy of Son House on the Identity and Character of Blues Culture

Crockett, Kyle (2014) A Study of the Life and Legacy of Son House on the Identity and Character of Blues Culture. Undergraduate thesis, under the direction of Dr. Charles Wilson from History, Southern Studies, University of Mississippi.

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This thesis explores the unique and pivotal life of Son House, a Mississippi bluesman from Lyon, Mississippi, who did much to change the identity and perpetuate the existence of blues music and culture. Furthermore, House was influential in shaping blues music as a medium for historical research, as they revealed a strikingly honest perception of the tumultuous and evil circumstances for African Americans in the South during the early twentieth century. Research on Son House was a unique experience, in that it called not only for academic exploration, but also human exploration. When researching the importance of blues music in the South, especially in Mississippi, one must dive into the genre to better understand the intricate characters and atmosphere that shaped them. This meant visiting the Delta, talking to peers and colleagues who share enthusiasm for the blues, and broadening the scope of academic research to include the very human aspects of blues culture which are vital to understanding its history. In this thesis, documentation of Son House’s life and decisions lead to a deeper understanding of the nature of blues music. The blues are widely known as “sad” music, but this is one-dimensional. Through House, and the blues phenomenon that succeeded his career, one can begin to see that blues music is as layered and complex as the human who sings them, and as shocking as the turmoil that shaped them. In this study, Son House—who lived a life characterized by extreme vice or extreme Christianity, and often at the same time—serves as the catalyst for the instillation of that dichotomy into blues culture. As one of the first “large-scale” blues musicians, he was also one of the first to incorporate heavy reliance on spirituality and the human experience; and while House often played for fiscal security, his predecessors saw no reason to enhance the weight of their blues if the dollar they received for them were there regardless.

Item Type: Thesis (Undergraduate)
Creators: Crockett, Kyle
Student's Degree Program(s): B.A. in History
Thesis Advisor: Dr. Charles Wilson
Thesis Advisor's Department: History, Southern Studies
Institution: University of Mississippi
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General)
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Depositing User: Mr. Kyle Crockett
Date Deposited: 09 May 2014 18:55
Last Modified: 09 May 2014 18:55
URI: http://thesis.honors.olemiss.edu/id/eprint/169

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