In response to Adam Gussow ’79 *00’s “Black and White and the Blues” (March issue), I would argue that the blues, like jazz, is a musical genre that originated among Black artists but has spread to include white performers as well. Thus, the blues, like jazz, is not a Black treasure but an American one.
If Gussow’s quoted poet Roland Freeman complains about intruders who’ve “taken the best” of his music, perhaps Gussow should consider that these “carpetbaggers” are in fact visiting the South to pay homage (and cover fees) to the living performers. In addition, Gussow fails to mention the legions of white musicians who have contributed their own interpretations of blues music, including Cream, Johnny Winter, Janis Joplin, David Bromberg, and Bonnie Raitt, to name but a few.
Gussow concludes by saying he wants “to understand where we, as blues people, really are at this moment in history.” You’re right here, brothers and sisters, in America.