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The History and Culture of Kansas Blues Music

Kansas City has played a big role in the history and culture of blues music even though most people associate it with jazz. It was in the 1920s that Kansas City Sound was born. Its popularity burgeoned through the 1930s and 1940s as a wave of blues with a ‘swinging’ attitude characterized by the stride piano style.

Who Were the Trailblazers of Kansas Blues?

The journey of Kansas City Sound was started by a couple of jazz artists. Big Joe Turner and Pete Johnson recorded the jump blues, a style that became the basis of modern rhythm and blues (R&B) and rock and roll. In the late 1940s, Charlie Parker made a hit song, ‘Now's the Time,’ with blues pentatonic scale notes. The hot jazz received tons of thumbs up thereby increasing the popularity of Kansas blues. Today, the Kansas City musicians Foundation still holds local jams at Charlie Parker memorial bust.

The trend continued and attracted numerous musicians including Sonny Kenner, William Count Basie, Jay McShann, Cotton Candy, Little Hatch, and Julia Lee. Other artists like Jelly Roll Morton’s sideman and Tommy Douglas released remarkable hits using the same tones and styles. The blues genre was particularly famous in after-hour jam sessions as well as small nightclubs. The musicians would extend the waves in social events, especially at weddings and night parties. In the 1980s, Kansas City Sound blended with jazz to inspire Bennie Moten Orchestra.

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Contemporary R&B

The term R&B has changed over time. The contemporary R&B combines elements of soul, pop, electronic music, funk, and hip hop. Popular vocalists in the current era include Bruno Mars, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Robin Thicke, Ariana Grande, Drake, Selena Gomez, and The Weeknd.