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    Thursday, September 4, 2014

    A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews, and American Popular Song

    "Black-Jewish relations," Jeffrey Melnick argues, has mostly been a way for American Jews to talk about their ambivalent racial status, a narrative collectively constructed at critical moments, when particular conflicts demand an explanation. Remarkably flexible, this narrative can organize diffuse materials into a coherent story that has a powerful hold on our imagination. Melnick elaborates this idea through an in-depth look at Jewish songwriters, composers, and perfomers who made "Black" music in the first few decades of this century. He shows how Jews such as George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Al Jolson, and others were able to portray their "natural" affinity for producing "Black" music as a product of their Jewishness while simultaneously depicting Jewishness as a stable white identity. Melnick also contends that this cultural activity competed directly with Harlem Renaissance attempts to define Blackness. [Jeffrey_Melnick]_A_Right_to_Sing_the_Blues_Afric_BookZZ.org_

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    Item Reviewed: A Right to Sing the Blues: African Americans, Jews, and American Popular Song Rating: 5 Reviewed By: asar tehuti
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