Rhythm and Race in the Americas
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of California Press
Series: Music of the African Diaspora
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
I wish to thank Ramsey Guthrie for his interest in this project and for sharing his expertise. I am very grateful to Mary Francis for her encouragement and guidance, and to Eric Schmidt and Suzanne Knott for help in the production stages. Sincere thanks to John Cowley for information on Trinidadian music, to Charles ...
Introduction: Slaves to the Rhythm
The Burt Lancaster film The Swimmer contains a scene in which the white suburbanite protagonist, Ned Merrill, emerges from the woods at the entrance to the home of one of his wealthy friends. At the same time, the friend’s Rolls-Royce car arrives at the gate, and Merrill runs forward to catch a ride up the lengthy driveway. As the car draws up, Merrill calls out the chauffeur’s name (“Steve”), and the ...
1. Beating Back Darkness: Rhythm and Revolution in Haiti
In many crucial ways, the history of the modern Caribbean begins in Haiti in 1804, with Jean-Jacques Dessalines’s declaration of independence. It was here that the fallible nature of colonial military power and, more importantly, of colonial ideology in the Caribbean was first exposed. The Haitian Revolution that began in 1791 dealt blows to the notion of innate European, “white” superiority, sending ...
2. Rhythm, Creolization, and Conflict in Trinidad
As Haiti was assuming its independence and moving into its uncertain postcolonial future, the rest of the colonial Caribbean remained firmly under the yoke of imperialism and slavery. The islands of the Anglophone Caribbean did not become independent until almost 160 years after Dessalines’s declaration. One of the consequences of the Haitian Revolution was that the process of creolization ...
3. Rhythm, Music, and Literature in the French Caribbean
As the rhythm of the steelbands was being harnessed to a nascent form of black power in Trinidad, and as Haiti’s musicians and intellectuals were incorporating rhythm as a primary feature of indigenist aesthetics, a similar conception of black rhythm was emerging as a defining aspect of another racial consciousness movement on the small French island of Martinique. During the 1940s, the ...
4. James Brown, Rhythm, and Black Power
Despite its particular colonial history and the ways in which that history has encouraged a lingering fascination with its former European metropoles, the Caribbean does not exist in isolation from the rest of the Americas. As Daniel Maximin’s L’Isolé soleil shows, there are intricate, sometimes hidden, but nonetheless profound and enduring links between the Caribbean and North ...
Conclusion: Listening to New World History
In a 2006 book on the intellectual history of the Caribbean, author Silvio Torres- Saillant writes critically about the region’s music and questions whether music and musicians, despite their commercial success, actually bring any “discernible benefit” to the region (33). Evoking the historic Peace concert in Jamaica in 1978 when Bob Marley famously summoned political foes Michael Manley and ...