Locating Lucille Bogan: Black Music, The Arts and Socio-Political Opposition in Early 1900s America
Moroziuk, Linda M.
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This study identifies the previously overlooked catalogue of music by Lucille Bogan as part of the landscape navigated by black entertainers in post slavery America. The classic blues artists, like playwrights and musicians in the theatre industry, used their respective platforms to disseminate socio-political narratives opposing gender and racial bias to audiences both black and white. Methods used to unearth these narratives include lyric analyses of Bogan and her contemporaries, Gertrude Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. Subject matter of theatrical plays and the music used therein is also examined, revealing content that subverts white efforts to silence black protest in post-Emancipation America. Turn-of-the-century public protest was an occurrence not tolerated in society. Activists learned that speaking out could subject them to punishment and result in terrifying repercussions (Cherry 1998, 225). In the songs of Bogan and the classic blues women and on the stages in urban theatres, however, black artists found the freedom to articulate socio-economic realities, gender and racial injustices and everyday struggles of life faced by their community.