How The Great Migration Influenced An Entire New Genre Of Music And Art

jazz singer singing
Alyssa Guzik
August 31, 2023

They had been traveling for hours. The steam engines crept slowly through the South's heat and humidity until they reached Illinois's cooler open air. Black folks were journeying north with weary souls but hope in their hearts.

Chicago was different. A desperate need for laborers made jobs easier to attain but far more dangerous. Black people had been recruited to move north. "It's better than sharecropping and the Black Codes." But the struggle was still struggle, and folks needed more. They needed an outlet.

Established Black communities in Chicago opened their arms in welcome, but times were still tough. The former Southerners took the songs they knew and mixed them with the sounds of the North, expressing their emotions in a new musical style. Thus, the Chicago blues was born.

The cultural exchange completely changed the musical and artistic landscape of the city. Though the blues had existed and thrived in other cities like Atlanta and Memphis, Chicago's scene and the power behind the music revolutionized the soundscapes of music nationwide.

The struggles Black folks faced birthed the rhythm and blues that created countless other genres of music. From the blues to jazz and rock and roll, we've turned our pain into art forms never seen before. We can tap into that history and experience to continue to breathe life into art in ways to inspire our people.

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