Tag Archives: Bronzeville

Sweet Home Chicago: Part VI. Back to that Same Old Place

We will never know what images of Bronzeville inspired Robert Johnson to compose “Sweet Home Chicago.” The song emerged from Chicago Black Metropolis musical roots and spoke of the city as an aspirational destination. Newsreel footage celebrating Chicago in the … Continue reading

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Sweet Home Chicago: Part IV. Blame it on the Blues

Thomas Dorsey was an active composer and blues performer before his gospel breakthrough in the early 1930s. In 1910 at age 11 he sold candy at Atlanta’s famous 81 Theater where he first heard William “Pa” Rainey and Gertrude “Ma” … Continue reading

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Sweet Home Chicago: Part III. Jazz and Blues on the Stroll

Chicago in the 1920s was a melting pot for jazz and blues, a vibrant mix of musical styles from different parts of the south. Jazz came up from New Orleans early in the century and spread nationwide along with economic … Continue reading

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Sweet Home Chicago: Part II. Building the Black Metropolis

Chicago was the fastest growing city in the world at the end of the 19th century; population doubled to one million between 1880 and 1890, grew to over two million by 1910 and passed three million by 1930. Population growth and … Continue reading

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Sweet Home Chicago: Part I. From the Delta to Bronzeville

Chicago loves telling, exploring, disputing and  embellishing its history.  The story line has been carried by icons of the built environment, milestones in the city’s development, plans for the future, cultural artifacts and Chicago personalities.Music also can carry history. Irving … Continue reading

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Sweet Home Chicago: Part V. I’m a Steady Rollin’ Man

There are two interwoven stories surrounding Robert Johnson and “Sweet Home Chicago.” The first involves the power of his recorded music, discovered facts and repeated legends, the intersections of blues and rock ‘n’ roll and claims over ownership. The second … Continue reading

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