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Dancing on the road: the heyday of Black DJs and the music that moved Black America


I can remember how I saved my scarce permission to scrape enough money to go to the record store and buy my favorite 45rpm I had heard on the radio and from a black DJ how Doug "Jocko" Henderson or Georgie Woods were filmed – "The man with the goods." When I think back, it wasn't clear to me at the time how much Black Radio shaped my thinking and my taste in music. Radio DJs made music possible, but it wasn't just about music. They were a connection to a larger black community and all the events and politics that affected us. Google Arts and Culture has an amazing online exhibition that you will hopefully explore: "The Golden Age of Black Radio", from The Archive for African American Music and Culture (AAAMC).

The four-part exhibition shows the birth of black-oriented radio programs in Chicago through the transition from stations across the country to purely black programs. Along the way, users learn about the role of radio during the civil rights movement, the pioneer of African-American women on the radio, the personality DJs who rapped and rhymed, and the role of DJs in "breaking hits" and promoting black music and Artist. Some of the key elements of the online exhibition are:

Video clips from an extensive interview with legendary DJ Jack "The Rapper" Gibson, recorded at Indiana University in 1981.
Audio clips from interviews with almost two dozen DJs and producers of the Black Radio personality, which were recorded in the early 1990s.
Historic photographs document black radio stations and DJs in cities like Houston, Atlanta, Louisville, Cincinnati, Detroit, Philadelphia and New York, as well as the important relationship between black radio personalities and African American communities.

In 1996 the Peabody Award was presented to "Black Radio: Telling It Like It Was":

This 13-part documentary on the role of radio in the development of black communities in America, hosted by Lou Rawls, is a vivid reminder of the many contributions African-Americans have made to the history of broadcasting. Through interviews with radio veterans and the presentation of rare recordings of historical programs, listeners hear the powerful, engaging stories of people who have experienced this important and often neglected area of ​​American cultural and media history. Executive producers Wes Horner and Jacquie Gales Webb, producers Sonja Williams and Lex Gillespie and production manager John Tyler have carefully collected, recorded and re-recorded the oral traditions used in this pioneering series and the archived audio material. As a result, coming generations will appreciate the contributions of Hal Jackson, Jack Gibson, Tom Joyner, Al Benson, Jack L. Cooper, "Doctor Daddy-O" (Vernon Winslow) and countless others for America's radio listeners.

If you didn't hear black radio in the 50s and 60s or were not born at that time, the DJs of the individual stations had a distinctive sound. Radio Facts has a great list of some of those voices that shaped the sound. They profile Martha Jean "the Queen" Steinberg Memphis, Tennessee and Detroit; Herb Kent "The Cool Gent from Chicago; Dr. Daddio Jim Walker in Denver; Jack "the Rapper" Gibson out Atlanta, Louisville, Miami, Cincinnati and Cleveland; Nat Williams in Memphis; Zilla Mays in Atlanta and Paul "Fat Daddy" Johnson from Baltimore.

I can only speak personally about the voices I heard in my youth. I listened to Douglas "Jocko" Henderson on WADO in New York. When I started hearing Jocko, his show was late at night; I would sneak my transistor radio into bed under the covers to stay up and listen, hoping my mother wouldn't catch me. The next day the school yard would only talk about which tunes Jocko was shooting, and you wouldn't be "hip" if you hadn't tuned in.

"Hello, Daddy-O and Mommy-O, this is Jocko" was the latest craze in Philadelphia and later in New York City. His thing rhymed words like "eee-tiddlee-yock, that's the jock" or "oo-papa-doo, how are you?" Although it wasn't the first one, it worked. It is said that his fan club counted 50,000 people at the same time. His entry into his stage productions was legendary. He would enter the stage with a rocket suspended on wires. There were sound effects and smoke. Really a sight to see.

Douglas Wendell Henderson, Sr. (Jocko), born March 8, 1918 in Baltimore, began broadcasting in 1950 at AM Daytimer, WBAL in the city of his birth. Chuck Richards at this station interested Jocko. Baltimore DJ Maurice "Hot Rod" Hulbert also said that Henderson should go on the radio. Doug loved radio and gave up his father's plans to become a teacher. About six months later, Jocko moved to Philadelphia, a city where he took root and started and started a family. He started in Quaker City on WHAT Radio, which was owned by Billy and Dolly Banks. It was WHAT he would take the name that would stay with him for the rest of his life, "Jocko". Shortly thereafter, he switched to WDAS …

About seven years later, he began the morning drive on the WLIB in New York City while continuing the afternoon appearance on & # 39; DAS. He later retained the Philly job, but changed stations and periods in NYC to WOV, later WADO for late evenings, and finally to WWRL. These shows were all live and it had to be a little bit too much for Jocko. In his basement, he set up a studio where he recorded New York programs and added Boston, St. Louis, Detroit, and Miami.

I spent part of my summer in Philly and stayed with my aunt, uncle and two cousins ​​who were older than me. They had dance parties in the basement and Philly was the place to learn the latest dance enthusiasm. They listened to Georgie Woods. Although American Bandstand was broadcast on television, every black guy in Philly was aware that it was "white", even though the cast was often black, which is documented in The Nicest Kids in Town: American Bandstand, Rock & # 39; n & # 39; Roll and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Philadelphia in the 1950s by Matthew F. Delmont.

American Bandstand, one of the most popular television shows of all time, was broadcast from Philadelphia in the late 1950s when this city had become a battlefield for civil rights. Contrary to Dick Clark's claim that he had integrated American Bandstand, this book shows how the first national television program aimed at young people who discriminated against black youth in their early years and how black youth and civil rights activists protested this discrimination. Matthew F. Delmont brings together key themes in American history – civil rights, rock & # 39; roll, television, and the emergence of a youth culture – and tells how white families were mobilized in American Bandstand's studio to move to pure white neighborhoods and how local school officials increased segregation long after Brown vs. Board of Education.

Delmont frames the white American bandstand with historic racist resistance to rock & # 39; roll:

Much from This anti-rock and roll feeling was refueled by open racism and fears from Racial mix. As a Carter, leader from the White Supremacist north Alabama Citizens Advice, collected Attention from National news media to the his campaign to Ban rock and roll, Which he described how a NAACP action to "Hybrid America." Members from Carters north Alabama Citizens advice jumped on stage and attacked Nat king Cole at the a concert in the Birmingham in the 1956 and also Picket line a concert With the Plates, LaVern Baker, Bo Diddley, and invoice Haley With character read, "NAACP says Integration, rock & roll, rock & roll," "Jungle music promotes Integration," and "Jungle music AIDS Crime." While Wagoner and his White Citizens advice receive the most Attention, Segregationists over the south Picket line rock and roll Concerts, and city Officer in the Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Virginia passed Regulations Ban interracial Concerts and Dances. in the the West, a White Supremacist group in the Inglewood, California, released Aviators With photos from young black Men and White Women To dance, With Captions read "Boy meets girl & # 39; being-bop Style, & # 39; and "Total Mongrelization. "

Chapter 5 of the book introduces Georgie Woods, whom he calls “a to lead rock and roll DJ WHO also advanced civil right in the Philadelphia. Woods civil right activism developed out from his Experience Work With black Young people how a DJ and concert promoter how Well how his Concern, worry over the defect from black watch TV Personalities and black-in possession transmission Stations in the the City."

DJ style and performance in New York changed with the rise of Frankie Crocker, who started on the New York market at Black Station WWRL and then at WLIB, which later became WBLS. He mixed music and had both a black and a white audience. The audience could recite the intro of the show with him:

"This is the show that will definitely bring more dips to your hips. More cut in your brace and more glide in your crotch. … If you don't dig it, you know that you have a hole in your soul … and you don't eat chicken on Sunday. "

Crocker pushed the envelope on the radio as "Shock jock, but for his fans he was an icon. "I grew up in Gravesend, Brooklyn, an area not known for racial tolerance, but you heard WBLS in every store you went to. They loved WBLS and Frankie Crocker was the king New York radio personality Ray Rossi told The Los Angeles Times.

CrockerThe audience was as different as the music he played, but he represented more than just music for the black community. Without many blacks in media positions, early DJs for black radio stations became reporters, activists, and community leaders. Public radio waves were used as a channel for the civil rights movement. Crocker became the communitys Link to many topics of the time.

(For your information – this blurry profile on Frankie's album cover is me.) I met Frankie when he moved from Buffalo to New York City, and he shared a house in my neighborhood in Queens with a friend of an electric bass player one of the black engineers at WWRL Radio. He was tall, thin, arch-legged, and looked rural, with high-rise pants and a strange-looking process hairstyle, but he soon became hip in city style and turned into a preppy dandy, nicknamed "Hollywood" and "The Love Man" and "big." , brown, young and flying ”.


Dancing on the street: Motown and the cultural policy of Detroit, by the historian Suzanne Smith places the popular explosion of black music in a political context and relates it directly to the civil rights movement.

Book Cover: Dancing on the Street: Motown and the Cultural Policy of Detroit by Suzanne E. Smith

Detroit was a pulsating city in the 1960s: people marched in step with Martin Luther King Jr., danced on the streets with Martha and the Vandellas, and faced the city police. Motown delivered the beat. This book tells the story of Motown – both as a musical style and as an entrepreneurial phenomenon – and its inner relationship to the politics and culture of Motor Town, USA.

While Suzanne Smith traces Motown's evolution from a small record company deeply rooted in Detroit’s black community to an international giant in the music industry, she gives us a clear view of grassroots cultural policy. Here we see Motown's music not as a mere soundtrack for its historical moment, but as an active agent in the politics of the time. In this story, Motown Records played a special role in the city's black community, which articulated and promoted its own social, cultural, and political agendas. Smith shows how these local agendas, reflecting the unique concerns of northern African Americans, responded to and reconfigured the national civil rights campaign.

Against the backdrop of events in the national scene – with Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, Nat King Cole and Malcolm X – Dancing in the Street presents a vivid picture of the civil rights movement in Detroit with Motown at its heart.

Your introduction sets the scene:

On a wet July afternoon in the 1967, Martha and the Vandellas kicked on to the stage from Detroits prestigious Fox theatre how the much expected Great final from the "Swing time Revue." The Revue, based on a local watch TV show from the equal Surname, was a regional execution from Thick Clark & ​​# 39; s American Bandstand. Robin Seymour, a above Discount jockey in the the Detroit Area, provided the watch TV Show, Which was transmission from CKLW Studios in the Windsor, Canada. His Life stage show presented Performances by lots local Favorites in the Detroits rhythm and blues Circuit. Acts including the Parliaments, WHO sang her beat "I Do you want? Testify "; the Drama, WHO were promote her single "Everything because from You"; and the comedy action the Little one soul brothers guaranteed a spirited Show. Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were from Course, the Main attraction With her repertoire from Motown Hits such how "Nowhere to Run, " "Jimmy Mack, " and-fitting to the the humid Summer- Day-"Heatwave. " your greatest Number, however, was "To dance in the the Street."1

Martha Reeves jumped in the song With her usually Force, but she were distracted when a stage Manager started to wave his hands and signal to her from the Wing. Reeves finished the number and fast went out stage to Find out What was cause the Excitement. The stage Manager packed Reeves and told her The revolt would have Broken out on the Roads from Detroit. A police Raid on a illegal after this-hours Drink Job, also known how a "blind Pig," would have ignited a burst from Violence, Looting and arson The was distribution dangerous while the City. Young People out on the Roads –how one observer written down at the the Time-appeared to Be "To dance midst the Flames. " Reeves returned to center stage and explained the Location, how calm how possible, to her loyal to Fans. she recommended everything from she to travel to Safety. Attention her have Advice, Reeves, the Vandellas, and her Backup tape packed up above her equipment and Left Detroit The night

She discussed the book and historical context in a C-Span forum on February 23, 2000. Smith does not fail to treat the development of organizations in Detroit as The Dodge revolutionary union Movement (DRUM) and The league from revolutionary black Labor force; often overlooked when talking about black radical movements.

James Adams from California State University at Northridge wrote in his review:

Partly because the black community vocally claimed ownership of Motown's sound, Motown groups were unable to overcome racial barriers despite crossover success. The Supremes, one of Motown's most successful groups with an interracial audience and one of the most successful music acts across the country, have been permanently included in the Rock & # 39; roll charts because their black skin trumped their variety of music genres . When Ed Sullivan warmly welcomed her to his show – one of the first widespread television appearances by a black group – he received complaints from show sponsor Ford that his relationships with black actors were too friendly.

The whites weren't alone when it came to racializing Motown's content. An increasingly militant black community interpreted Motown music as their call to arms. The death of Malcolm X and Nat King Cole in 1965 ushered in an era of racist violence in which light-hearted Motown songs like "Shotgun" that started with a shot took on dangerous undertones. Articles such as "Rhythm and blues music as a weapon" calling on readers to take violent action against the oppression of black music showed that for some black activists, pop music was closely linked to the struggles of the black community.

Motown and his artistic portrayal of Detroit as a theater of tolerance ultimately failed to mask the reality of racist tensions. In Chapter 5 of Dancing in the Street, Smith reports on the pros and cons of the event that Detroit Blacks considered the "July Rebellion" and the media referred to the "Detroit Unrest of 1967". The violence was not entirely unexpected. Smith points out two events, the mismatched consequences of which contradicted ideas of racial harmony in Detroit. The first was the Supremes' failure to raise funds for a charity called the Torch Program. Smith attributes this failure to an overestimation of the Supremes' relationship with a white audience, and again an overestimation of Motown's ability to break down racial barriers. Events at the second annual Black Arts Convention also indicated impending violence, as a tone of discontent and vengeance permeated SNCC leader H. Rap ​​Brown's statements. Less than a month later, looting, destruction, and unrest shook Detroit's black community. During the violence and in the aftermath, Motown deliberately distanced itself from the surrounding turbulence.

To this day, when I hear Martha and the Vandellas “shouting around the world,” it reminds me of a time when black music and black artists began to reach audiences outside of our separate worlds in urban centers. Even so, it was still "our".

Follow him with "heat wave".

It's funny that when I watch the video clips now, I have no memory of their accomplishments in front of all white teenagers. We would only see her on the Soul Train a few years later.

Filmmaker and writer Nelson George spoke to NPR about the advent of Soul Train in "How & # 39; Soul Train & # 39; a generation shaped ”.

I mean, I think one of the many things about "Soul Train" is that it has solidified the national black culture. When I say that, I mean that there has never been a regular scheduled vehicle for black music, black style and black entertainment on TV, it was never done. When it comes to 1971, we're still in the era of black power. We are at a time when we have black mayors, who are finally becoming black mayors in big cities. We still have black power – the riots of the 1960s are still very, very lively in everyone's mind.

So "Soul Train" took black joy – the excitement, the vitality, the spirit of soul music, the black music, the funk, the beginnings of the disco – and brought it here into a format that everyone can enjoy in their living room. It took up the idea of ​​blackness and took it out of the news as a dispute or conflict and made it accessible not only to black people but also to white companies because slowly advertising on "Soul Train" was seen. I mean, the thing with "Soul Train" was that it wasn't just the dancers and the music black, but you started seeing black advertisements.

When Don Cornelius died of apparent suicide in 2012 at the age of 75, there were numerous obituaries and tributes to what he had created with Soul Train.

The VH1 documentary Soul Train, the hippest trip in America, told by Terrence Howard, aired on February 5, 2010.

Few television series have been as innovative and influential for pop culture as “Soul Train”. "Soul Train" was launched on August 17, 1970 in Chicago with the local radio and television personality Don Cornelius on WCIU-TV. After the dance show moved to Los Angeles, "Soul Train" skyrocketed nationally and secured its place on television by becoming the longest running, first syndicated series in history. For the 40th anniversary of the show, VH1 Rock Docs and Soul Train present "Soul Train: The hippest trip in America", a monumental 90-minute documentary that celebrates the show's impact on pop culture, music, dance and fashion. The film also includes a rare interview with Don Cornelius, revealing exclusive details about the start and beginning of the legendary series.

From 1970 to 2006, “Soul Train” provided an insight into African American music and culture, and its charismatic host, Don Cornelius, was the man who was responsible for a new era of African American expression. As a trained journalist, Don founded a media empire that offered record labels and advertisers the opportunity to reach a new generation of music fans. He was and is one of the first African Americans to have his own show. The epitome of coolness, many of his expressions were used in the popular American lexicon: "A groove with which you can move really smoothly" and "I wish you love, peace and soul!"

The documentary features unforgettable performances and moments from the show, as well as stories behind the scenes of the people who have lived the "Soul Train" movement, including the cast, the crew and the dancers. In addition, popular musicians (Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Smokey Robinson, Snoop Dogg, Aretha Franklin), Sly Stone's first exclusive documentary interview in years, comics (Cedric "The Entertainer", Nick Cannon), music industry executives (LA Reid, Clive Davis , Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff) and actors from yesterday and today will comment on growing up with the show and tell their stories about how "Soul Train" influenced their own lives.

I was intrigued to find a French television documentary on Soul Train.

Show me your soul: The soul-moving years is a 2013 documentary produced by filmmaker Pascal Forneri (who also made the critically acclaimed 2010 documentary) for French television Gainsbourg & his girls). It uses wonderful rare footage, stock photos and brand new interviews to get the first detailed insight into the history of Soul train. Forneri not only highlights the amazing soul and R&B artists who performed on the program during the 35-year run of 1,100 episodes, but also the real stars of the show: the dancers in the studio who set the standard for future generations of contemporary urban dance.

Though touted as such, Soul Train producer Don Cornelius was not the first black television DJ, although Soul Train was the first black popular music and dance show with a national distribution.

We turn again to author and historian Matthew Delmont to see a virtually unknown story in "Dancing Around the" Flashy Light of TV ": Black Teen Dance Shows in the South:".

In this essay Matthew Delmont examines four programs that brought music and dance to television audiences in the south and the border state in the 1950s and 1960s. Delmont argues that television provided creative opportunities for some black teenagers during the segregation, and focuses on three shows with black teenagers. The Mitch Thomas Show from Wilmington, Delaware (1955-1958), Teenage frolics (1958-1983), moderated by Raleigh, North Carolina, DJ J.D. Lewis and Washington, DC Teenarama dance party (1963-1970) moderated by Bob King. Delmont also explored The Milt Grant Show (1956–1961) in Washington, DC to highlight the distinctive color lines that influenced the experience of teenage dancers and the home and studio audiences that flocked to these hit shows .

And even less known is the fact that Jocko Henderson broadcast a television dance show in New York; "His rocket ship show was on New York's Channel 13 for about a year from 1958. “There are no tapes from the show that can be found anywhere, but I remember seeing them. It didn't take long for it to air and I remember the rumors we heard when it disappeared – black and white and Puerto Rican children danced together on the show, although it was only billed as a black teenager. Integrated dancing was a no-no.

The music business shifted to the production of videos, and MTV became the powerhouse for music videos in 1981. The recent protests against Black Lives Matter have also reminded people of the ugly history of racism and racial segregation on this platform.

"The creepy monster of systemic racism: David Bowie, MTV and unpleasant truths:":

Bowie was a prominent face of the early advertising campaign "I want my MTV" and during the exchange it is easy to forget who is interviewing whom: Bowie asks VJ Mark Goodman why the station no longer played videos by black artists. Goodman defensively tries to explain the programming: "We have to try to do not only what New York and Los Angeles appreciate, but also Poughkeepsie or the Midwest. Select a Midwest city that Prince is going to Will scare death (whom we play) or a series of black faces and black music. "

"This is very interesting; isn't that interesting?" Bowie answers. Goodman continues: "We have to play the music that an entire country will like." Goodman falls back on what was then the official reason why MTV didn't play black artists (it's a "Rock & # 39; Roll" station) and wonders what a group like the Isley Brothers or Spinners would do for a 17- Year olds would mean. Bowie picks up on this thought and asks: "I can tell you what Isley Bros or Marvin Gaye mean for a black 17-year-old – and he certainly belongs to America?" It's a shocking question and Goodman agrees. Bowie calls Goodman's position "widespread" in the American media and asks: "Shouldn't it be a challenge to integrate the media much more, especially if at all, musically?" Goodman's example of this: He notes that MTV is now playing more white groups – which have a black sound!

The look on Bowie's face is priceless …

Still, the almost 40-year-old clip helps explain systemic racism. Goodman would never consider himself racist (and have no reason to believe that he is). Still, he admits that decisions have been made to intentionally exclude black artist videos – based on the perceived existence of racist beliefs somewhere. You could be as close as Poughkeepsie or as far as "a city in the Midwest" with residents who are afraid of "black faces". As we would say today, this says the quiet part out loud. An institution (a company) that acts in its own financial interest uses the existence of racism as a reason.

Die Zeiten haben sich geändert, obwohl Rassismus immer noch bei uns ist. Was wir im ganzen Land sehen, sind Szenen wie diese:


Die Szene heute Abend in South Minneapolis.

Ich würde lügen, wenn ich sagen würde, dass dies mein Herz nicht wärmt.

 € “Shaquille Brewster (@shaqbrewster), 3. Juni 2020

Wir tanzen immer noch. Wir marschieren immer noch. Genau wie Black Lives Matter – auch schwarze Musik.

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