The Great Migration was a vital factor in the development of African American music in many ways that led to an overall improved life for the migrants. From 1910 to 1970, approximately 6 million African Americans migrated from the Southern United States to Northeast, Mid-West, and Western states in search of a better life. They left the South due to lynchings, discrimination, segregation, denied rights, and a lack of jobs. Most migrators moved to large cities such as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Detroit. As they settled in communities filled with people of the same race, many found job opportunities which led to an increase in prosperity and overall sophistication. An important outcome of this migration was the Harlem Renaissance which ushered a movement of new African American accomplishments in art, literature, and music.
This Renaissance presented an idea of the “New Negro”, a thought that a person could overcome racism and oppression through intellect and production of the arts. This idea somewhat “uplifted” the race and led to musical advancements, including a development to jazz music. As the Renaissance thrived, new ways of playing music were created including the Harlem Stride Style, a modern style of playing the piano.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYrmEYTm8jM
Artists such as Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Nat King Cole became very famous, as the more sophisticated music began to appeal to white people as well as blacks.
The Great Migration had a huge impact on Jazz musically in specific. Since the migration had led to jobs and prosperity for African Americans, more people were able to buy records and listen to music in their homes. This greatly intensified the spread jazz music. In addition, musicians were exposed to better education leading to an increase their musical abilities. This expanded the development of music, and caused new methods and forms of jazz itself.
Finally, the Civil Rights Movement was undoubtedly influenced and impacted by music. African Americans began writing and playing “freedom songs” which inspired people to fight for their rights. Jazz, gospel, and soul music thrived during the Civil Rights Movement. These songs were aesthetically pleasing to African Americans, as well as serving as a “rallying flag” for the culture. The songs were became socially and politically conscious, as African Americans fought oppression and pushed for equal rights. These new genre’s and musical advancements served as support for African Americans, as Martin Luther King said, “Jazz speaks for life. The blues tell the story of life’s difficulties — and, if you think for a moment, you realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph. This is triumphant music.”