Exploring a crucial era for music, society


The Roaring Twenties were a time of prosperity and expressiveness, and a big part of that was a new music, jazz, and new ways that it was heard.

A new industry grew up around the invention of audio recordings and dramatically improved sound quality. Independent record labels encouraged experimentation. And printed sheet music made new music widely available. Meanwhile, prohibition speakeasies grew to be larger gatherings, and giant dance halls were packed.

According to music professor Lloyd Kaplan, many women in general found environments in clubs where they were more respected and could express themselves. Meanwhile, female singers like Mamie Smith were crucial to the development of the Blues. Bessie Smith, another great singer who followed, sang lyrics with a realism that stood out. The explosion of musical styles, new technologies, and new freedoms had a profound impact on society, and fed into further developments in music around the world felt to this day.

I hope you can be at Mohr Library for “Songs of the Decades: The ’20s,” with Lloyd Kaplan and Tom Shaker, for this opportunity to take in video and audio recordings of the ’20s, and hear a discussion of the lasting importance of this time by two experts. The gathering happens next Tuesday, Oct. 12, at 6:30. Please let me know you’re coming by emailing, or calling (401) 231-4980 and pressing 7.


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