The renowned playwright August Wilson once said, “Blues is the bedrock of everything I do. All the characters in my plays, their ideas and attitudes, the stance that they adopt in the world, are all ideas and attitudes that are expressed in the blues.”
Wilson, who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, had a deep appreciation for blues music and recognized its power as a form of artistic expression. In his plays, such as “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “The Piano Lesson,” Wilson incorporated blues music as a way to convey the struggles and hardships of African Americans in the early 20th century.
The blues, which originated in the American South in the late 1800s, is a musical genre that typically features lyrics about pain, loss, and oppression. It was created as a means for African Americans to express their emotions and experiences during a time when they were often marginalized and discriminated against.
Wilson believed that the blues had the power to provide solace and comfort to those who were suffering. He saw it as a way for people to connect with one another and to communicate their stories and struggles. For Wilson, the blues represented not only a musical style but also a cultural movement that allowed African Americans to assert their presence and voice in society.
Today, the blues remains an important part of American culture and continues to inspire musicians and artists across the globe. Its legacy can be felt in a variety of musical genres, from rock and roll to hip hop. And for those who seek to understand the complexities of the African American experience, the blues provides a powerful lens through which to view the world.
As Wilson once said, “The blues is an art of ambiguity, an art of nuance, an art of subtlety…It speaks to the human experience, to the human heart.” And perhaps that is why it continues to resonate with so many people today.