American jazz composer, lyricist, and pianist Eubie Blake made an early contribution to the genre's etymology
Louis Jordan in New York City, c. undefined July 1946
Albert Gleizes, 1915, Composition for "Jazz" from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
The habanera rhythm shown as tresillo (lower notes) with the backbeat (upper note)
Ethel Waters sang "Stormy Weather" at the Cotton Club.
Fats Domino in 1956
Al Jolson in 1929
Piano excerpt from the rumba boogie "Mardi Gras in New Orleans" (1949) by Professor Longhair. 2–3 claves are written above for rhythmic reference.
Dance in Congo Square in the late 1700s, artist's conception by E. W. Kemble from a century later
3–2 clave written in two measures in cut-time
In the late 18th-century painting The Old Plantation, African-Americans dance to banjo and percussion.
Tresillo answered by the backbeat, the essence of clave in African American music
The blackface Virginia Minstrels in 1843, featuring tambourine, fiddle, banjo and bones
Bo Diddley's "Bo Diddley beat" is a clave-based motif.
Scott Joplin in 1903
Ray Charles in 1971
W. C. Handy at 19, 1892
Ruth Brown was known as the "Queen of R&B"
The Bolden Band around 1905
Della Reese
Jelly Roll Morton, in Los Angeles, California, c. 1917 or 1918
Sam Cooke
The King & Carter Jazzing Orchestra photographed in Houston, Texas, January 1921
Eric Burdon & the Animals (1964)
Louis Armstrong began his career in New Orleans and became one of jazz's most recognizable performers.
Benny Goodman (1943)
Duke Ellington at the Hurricane Club (1943)
The "classic quintet": Charlie Parker, Tommy Potter, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Max Roach performing at Three Deuces in New York City. Photograph by William P. Gottlieb (August 1947), Library of Congress.
Machito (maracas) and his sister Graciella Grillo (claves)
Dizzy Gillespie, 1955
Mongo Santamaria (1969)
Art Blakey (1973)
John Coltrane, 1963
Peter Brötzmann is a key figure in European free jazz.
Naná Vasconcelos playing the Afro-Brazilian Berimbau
Randy Weston
C pentatonic scale beginning on the I (C pentatonic), IV (F pentatonic), and V (G pentatonic) steps of the scale.
V pentatonic scale over II–V–I chord progression
Fusion trumpeter Miles Davis in 1989
Wynton Marsalis
David Sanborn, 2008
John Zorn performing in 2006
Steve Coleman in Paris, July 2004

The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music ... [with a] heavy, insistent beat" was becoming more popular.

- Rhythm and blues

The mid-1950s saw the emergence of hard bop, which introduced influences from rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues, especially in the saxophone and piano playing.

- Jazz
American jazz composer, lyricist, and pianist Eubie Blake made an early contribution to the genre's etymology

17 related topics

Alpha

American blues singer Ma Rainey (1886–1939), the "Mother of the Blues"

Blues

Music genre and musical form which originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s by African-Americans from roots in African-American work songs and spirituals.

Music genre and musical form which originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s by African-Americans from roots in African-American work songs and spirituals.

American blues singer Ma Rainey (1886–1939), the "Mother of the Blues"
A minor pentatonic scale;
Musicologist John Lomax (left) shaking hands with musician "Uncle" Rich Brown in Sumterville, Alabama
Sheet music from "Saint Louis Blues" (1914)
Bessie Smith, an early blues singer, known for her powerful voice
A typical boogie-woogie bass line
John Lee Hooker
Blues legend B.B. King with his guitar, "Lucille"
Texas blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1983
Italian singer Zucchero is credited as the "Father of Italian Blues", and is among the few European blues artists who still enjoy international success.
Eric Clapton performing at Hyde Park, London, in June 2008
Duke Ellington straddled the big band and bebop genres. Ellington extensively used the blues form.
The music of Taj Mahal for the 1972 movie Sounder marked a revival of interest in acoustic blues.

The blues form, ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, is characterized by the call-and-response pattern, the blues scale and specific chord progressions, of which the twelve-bar blues is the most common.

Jennifer Lopez performing at a pop music festival

Music genre

Conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions.

Conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions.

Jennifer Lopez performing at a pop music festival
Two DJs practicing turntablism
Piano accordion: Italian instrument used in several cultures
Metallica performing at the O2 Arena, March 28, 2009
John Scofield at the stage of Energimølla. The concert was part of Kongsberg Jazzfestival and took place on 6 July 2017

Examples of fusion genres include jazz fusion, which is a fusion of jazz and rock music, and country rock which is a fusion of country music and rock music.

The music genre of reggae is known to incorporate stylistic techniques from rhythm and blues, jazz, African, Caribbean, and other genres as well but what makes reggae unique are the vocals and lyrics.

African Americans

Ethnic group consisting of Americans with partial or total ancestry from sub-Saharan Africa.

Ethnic group consisting of Americans with partial or total ancestry from sub-Saharan Africa.

Slaves processing tobacco in 17th-century Virginia, illustration from 1670
The first slave auction at New Amsterdam in 1655, illustration from 1895 by Howard Pyle
Reproduction of a handbill advertising a slave auction in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1769
Crispus Attucks, the first "martyr" of the American Revolution. He was of Native American and African-American descent.
Frederick Douglass, ca 1850
Slaves Waiting for Sale: Richmond, Virginia, 1853. Note the new clothes. The domestic slave trade broke up many families, and individuals lost their connection to families and clans.
Harriet Tubman, around 1869
A group of White men pose for a 1919 photograph as they stand over the Black victim Will Brown who had been lynched and had his body mutilated and burned during the Omaha race riot of 1919 in Omaha, Nebraska. Postcards and photographs of lynchings were popular souvenirs in the U.S.
Rosa Parks being fingerprinted after being arrested for not giving up her seat on a bus to a White person
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963, shows civil rights leaders and union leaders
Black Lives Matter protest in response to the fatal shooting of Philando Castile in July 2016
Proportion of African Americans in each U.S. state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico as of the 2020 United States Census
U.S. Census map indicating U.S. counties with fewer than 25 Black or African-American inhabitants
Graph showing the percentage of the African-American population living in the American South, 1790–2010. Note the major declines between 1910 and 1940 and 1940–1970, and the reverse trend post-1970. Nonetheless, the absolute majority of the African-American population has always lived in the American South.
Former slave reading, 1870
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is director of New York City's Hayden Planetarium
The US homeownership rate according to race
This graph shows the real median US household income by race: 1967 to 2011, in 2011 dollars.
"Lift Every Voice and Sing" being sung by the family of Barack Obama, Smokey Robinson and others in the White House in 2014
Genetic clustering of 128 African Americans, by Zakharaia et al. (2009). Each vertical bar represents an individual. The color scheme of the bar plot matches that in the PCA plot.
Al Sharpton led the Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks protest on August 28, 2020.
Although the ban on interracial marriage ended in California in 1948, entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. faced a backlash for his involvement with a White woman in 1957
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remains the most prominent political leader in the American civil rights movement and perhaps the most influential African-American political figure in general.
BET founder Robert L. Johnson with former U.S. President George W. Bush
A traditional soul food dinner consisting of fried chicken with macaroni and cheese, collard greens, breaded fried okra and cornbread
Mount Zion United Methodist Church is the oldest African-American congregation in Washington, D.C.
Masjid Malcolm Shabazz in Harlem, New York City
This parade float displayed the word "Afro-Americans" in 1911.
Michelle Obama was the First Lady of the United States; she and her husband, President Barack Obama, are the first African Americans to hold these positions.
Racially segregated Negro section of keypunch operators at the US Census Bureau

The African-American contribution to popular music is so profound that virtually all American music, such as jazz, gospel, blues, hip hop, R&B, soul and rock all have their origins at least partially or entirely among African-Americans.

The Banjo Lesson by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1893

African-American music

Umbrella term covering a diverse range of music and musical genres largely developed by African Americans.

Umbrella term covering a diverse range of music and musical genres largely developed by African Americans.

The Banjo Lesson by Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1893
Congo Square African Drum 1819 Latrobe
Slave dance to banjo, 1780s
William Sidney Mount painted scenes of black and white American musicians. This 1856 painting depicts an African-American banjo player.
The Slayton Jubilee Singers entertain employees of the Old Trusty Incubator Factory, Clay Center, about 1910
Marilyn Horne and Henry Lewis in 1961, photo by Carl Van Vechten
Sister Rosetta Tharpe performing at Cafe Zanzibar
Lil Wayne is one of the top selling black American musicians in modern history. In 2008, his album sold one million in its first week.
Edward Ray at Capitol Records
50 Cent in 2006. 50 Cent was one of the most popular African-American rappers of the 2000s.
Beyoncé

Following the Civil War, black Americans, through employment as musicians playing European music in military bands, developed a new style of music called ragtime which gradually evolved into jazz.

African-American musicians developed related styles such as rhythm and blues in the 1940s.

Jordan in New York, July 1946

Jump blues

Up-tempo style of blues, usually played by small groups and featuring horn instruments.

Up-tempo style of blues, usually played by small groups and featuring horn instruments.

Jordan in New York, July 1946
Louis Jordan's Tympany Five
Lionel Hampton

It was popular in the 1940s and was a precursor of rhythm and blues and rock and roll.

Blues and jazz were part of the same musical world, with many musicians straddling both genres.

Sign commemorating the role of Alan Freed and Cleveland, Ohio, in the origins of rock and roll

Rock and roll

Genre of popular music that evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Genre of popular music that evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Sign commemorating the role of Alan Freed and Cleveland, Ohio, in the origins of rock and roll
Chuck Berry in 1957
Bill Haley and his Comets performing in the 1954 Universal International film Round Up of Rhythm
Elvis Presley in a promotion shot for Jailhouse Rock in 1957
Little Richard in 1957
Buddy Holly and his band, the Crickets.
Tommy Steele, one of the first British rock and rollers, performing in Stockholm in 1957
"There's No Romance in Rock and Roll" made the cover of True Life Romance in 1956

It originated from black American music such as jazz, rhythm and blues, boogie woogie, gospel, as well as country music.

Composer Sebastián Iradier

Tresillo (rhythm)

Rhythmic pattern used in Latin American music.

Rhythmic pattern used in Latin American music.

Composer Sebastián Iradier
Jelly Roll Morton
Dave Bartholomew in 1977

For the more than quarter-century in which the cakewalk, ragtime and proto-jazz were forming and developing, the habanera was a consistent part of African American popular music.

In the late 1940s, R&B music borrowed tresillo directly from Cuban music.

Johnson in Chicago, 1941

Lonnie Johnson (musician)

Johnson in Chicago, 1941
Johnson in 1960

Alonzo "Lonnie" Johnson (February 8, 1899 – June 16, 1970) was an American blues and jazz singer, guitarist, violinist and songwriter.

After World War II, Johnson made the transition to rhythm and blues, recording for King in Cincinnati and having a hit in 1948 with "Tomorrow Night" written by Sam Coslow and Will Grosz.

Jordan in New York City, 1946

Louis Jordan

American saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and bandleader who was popular from the late 1930s to the early 1950s.

American saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and bandleader who was popular from the late 1930s to the early 1950s.

Jordan in New York City, 1946
Louis Jordan's Tympany Five
Jordan in New York, July 1946, shortly after getting second billing to Glen Gray at the Paramount

Jordan began his career in big-band swing jazz in the 1930s, but he became known as one of the leading practitioners, innovators and popularizers of jump blues, a swinging, up-tempo, dance-oriented hybrid of jazz, blues and boogie-woogie.

With his dynamic Tympany Five bands, Jordan mapped out the main parameters of the classic R&B, urban blues and early rock-and-roll genres with a series of highly influential 78-rpm discs released by Decca Records.

Turner performing, 1973

Big Joe Turner

American blues shouter from Kansas City, Missouri.

American blues shouter from Kansas City, Missouri.

Turner performing, 1973
Turner performing in the 1955 film Rock 'n' Roll Revue

Eventually they were seen by the talent scout John Hammond in 1938, who invited them back to New York to appear in one of his From Spirituals to Swing concerts at Carnegie Hall, which were instrumental in introducing jazz and blues to a wider American audience.

During his career, Turner was part of the transition from big bands to jump blues to rhythm and blues to rock and roll.