Live Music in America

Catch the Grammys? This week's review chronicles the evolution of live music in the United States, tracing changes in genre, venues, and American culture's relationship with music.

Live Music in America: A History from Jenny Lind to Beyoncé

Waksman, Steve. Oxford, 2022
692p bibl index, 9780197570531 $175.00, 9780197570548 $35.00, 9780197570555

Live Music in America book cover.

This is a timely book, given the problems and financial losses in the live music industry related to the COVID pandemic and the monopoly ticketing policies of Ticketmaster. The story of live performance in the US is compelling, and Waksman (Smith College) tells it well. The reader will learn how things have changed in live performance since 1850, when European singing sensation Jenny Lind was promoted and marketed in the US by famous showman P. T. Barnum. The author does an outstanding job of analyzing the change from the the minstrel shows of the 19th century, vaudeville in the early-20th century, and the rise of jazz and rock ‘n’ roll to the current prominence of the hip-hop genre. He also covers the development of venues from the mid-19th century through the arena performances prevalent today. One learns that music in the US has been a product of the interaction of American capitalism and American cultures, especially the African American culture. Extensively documented, this is a definitive resource on the evolution of live music in the US.

Summing Up: Essential. All readers.
Reviewer
: R. J. Phillips, emeritus, Colorado State University
Interdisciplinary Subject: African and African American Studies
Subject: Humanities – Performing Arts – Music
Choice Issue: Sep 2023


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