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Out of Sight - The Rise of African American Popular Music, 1889–1895

Out of Sight

The Rise of African American Popular Music, 1889–1895

By Lynn Abbott & Doug Seroff
Series: American Made Music Series

Paperback : 9781604732443, 528 pages, 168 b&w illustrations, March 2009

A deluxe, encyclopedic survey of the cultural scene that engendered the popular music of the twentieth century


A landmark study, based on thousands of music-related references mined by the authors from a variety of contemporaneous sources, especially African American community newspapers, Out of Sight examines musical personalities, issues, and events in context. It confronts the inescapable marketplace concessions musicians made to the period’s prevailing racist sentiment. It describes the worldwide travels of jubilee singing companies, the plight of the great Black prima donnas, and the evolution of “authentic” African American minstrels. Generously reproducing newspapers and photographs, Out of Sight puts a face on musical activity in the tightly knit Black communities of the day.

Drawing on hard-to-access archival sources and song collections, the book is of crucial importance for understanding the roots of ragtime, blues, jazz, and gospel. Essential for comprehending the evolution and dissemination of African American popular music from 1900 to the present, Out of Sight paints a rich picture of musical variety, personalities, issues, and changes during the period that shaped American popular music and culture for the next hundred years.


"A product of old-fashioned, back-wearying, foundational scholarship, yet very readable, this book is certain to feature importantly in future studies of early jazz and its prehistory. Highly recommended."

- Library Journal

"CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title:

This volume makes possible the study of the rise of Black music in the days that paved the way for the Harlem Renaissance—the brass bands, the banjo and mandolin clubs, the male quartets, and theatrical companies. Summing up: Essential."