It is a privilege to write the first post for the Blues and Jazz Dance Book Club website!
In 2014, I realized that I had been listening to blues music and doing blues dance for 10 years with a regrettably limited understanding of the culture that gave life to this art form—the African American experience in the United States. One of the best ways to learn about the history and culture of a people, even for someone that grew up in my same country, is to read the literature. I reached out to friends and colleagues with more education, and I was delighted to see how easily they recommended an extensive list of reading material for me.
Interestingly, I found that reading alone was less satisfying. Perhaps this is because this is a dance and music that I regularly share with my friends, community, and even dancers around the world. It led naturally to a desire to share my discoveries and inspirations with other blues and jazz enthusiasts.
A unique and exciting aspect of the blues community is that it is not limited to one city or geographic region. Dancers and blues and jazz music enthusiasts exist across the US and around the world. It is lucky that we are able to use the Internet as a platform to reach all of our worldwide community to share in our learning.
Another stroke of luck was meeting Chelsea June Adams, who is everything I could ask for in a book club leader. Chelsea is an English academic who specializes in 20th century American literature, and an African Americanist with a focus on the blues and blues idiom dance in literature. She has published on literature and social justice topics, taught literature, and taught blues dance. As you can imagine, she is far more qualified than I am to lead the discussion and engage our readers and community in the intriguing nuances and themes that flow through black literature and through blues music and culture.
I hope together we can read, learn, discuss, experience, and be inspired by a deep dive in to this rich, diverse, and fascinating culture that lives right here at home.
Happy reading, happy listening, happy dancing.