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  • Indian Groove

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    Traditional Indian flavors meet electronica on this fascinating musical masala!


  • Cuban Playground

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    Kids of all ages will love this fun selection of songs from one of the world’s most musical countries.

Kids Albums

Cultural Spotlight

Celebrating Black History Month

American Blues

The blues is the heart and soul of American music. With a family tree whose roots trace their way back to Africa, the blues was born in the cotton fields of the South and passed down through the generations as a testament to the struggles and triumphs of African- Americans. The blues is the foundation of most popular American music, be it rock, pop, jazz, soul, gospel and hip-hop.

The exact origins of the blues are undocumented. African slaves brought to work on Southern plantations were forced to leave most of their culture behind. Against all odds, threads of African tradition remained, weaving through field hollers, work songs and the songs of praise and worship passed down through the generations.

Eventually, the blues began to take shape. Early field recordings or transcriptions by musicologists like W.C. Handy (who was also an influential composer) reflect a style that was dominated more by the emotions it was trying to express then by the rigors of a specific structure.

The invention of the phonograph and the subsequent commercialization of recordings accelerated the development of more standardized blues structures, including the basic 12-bar pattern, three basic chord changes and the AAB verse stanza that are the foundations of the basic blues form.

Over the years, the blues family tree grew countless branches and regional variations such as Mississippi Delta blues, Piedmont blues, Memphis blues, Chicago blues and so on. Pretty much everywhere African-Americans lived they developed unique styles of the blues that reflected the influences of their local environment.

Eventually, the world outside of the African-American community began to take notice, and incorporated or imitated this spirited and soulful music. The blues led to rhythm & blues, which led to rock & roll and a musical flood was unleashed.

But there are many artists today who have remained true to the roots of the blues, be those the acoustic guitar sounds of the Mississippi Delta, the urban electric drive of Chicago, or the swamp boogie of Louisiana. While they may have developed their own unique voices and approaches, they have made it their mission to respect the fundamental sound, structure and soul of the blues. At the same time, they have succeeded in keeping the blues a vital force in today’s musical landscape.

American Blues features some of the leading artists on the contemporary blues scene who have successfully walked the line between tradition and innovation. Their music connects the threads of the past and calls out to future generations to keep the blues alive and flourishing.