Born out of the field hollers, work songs, and spirituals sung by African-American slaves and tenant farmers as they were forced to work in the fields of the South, blues music often speaks of oppression, sadness, and love, topics that transcend racial and ethnic boundaries. Early musicians such as Blind Lemon Jefferson and W.C. Handy established the standards of the genre, with the hit songs "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" and "Memphis Blues," respectively. Their affecting lyrics later served as inspiration for future blues performers such as Muddy Waters, Lead Belly, and John Lee Hooker. The blues became the foundation of nearly every form of American music created in the 20th century, especially jazz, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and hip-hop.
American Popular Music: Blues brings together in a single volume all the aspects of this musical genre, creating an essential resource for music lovers everywhere, as well as those interested in the historical roots of an American legacy.