Timeline of Blues Music


Slaves songs were published

Approx. 1867 - Approx. 1877

Earliest form of blues, which is the African spirituals being brought to the United States. By 1867, the first collection of the African spirituals were published.

Not accepting African-American

Approx. 1880 - Approx. 1900

Laws allowed more and more restrictions and cruelty to the African-Americans. Racial violence and lynchings increase.

First black music published


"Camp Meeting Shouts.", published by the Victor Records, is the first known actual recording of black music.

W.C. Handy


One of the earliest blues and legend artist W.C. Handy, also known as Father of the Blues, got his inspiration from a bluesman playing guitar with a knife at a train station in Mississippi.

First blues songs published

Approx. 1903 - Approx. 1910

Some of the first set of blues songs are published as sheet music.

W.C. Handy's "Memphis Blues"


One of the most famous and earliest blues songs that is accepted by large amount of audiences is W.C. Handy's "Memphis Blues".

More and more blues records

Approx. 1915 - Approx. 1929

More and more blues music records were issued, leading to the emerge of the early blues artists such as Mamie Smith, Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, Ralph Peer, Blind Lemon Jefferson, etc.

"Race" recording.

Feb 1920 - Approx. 1920

Mamie Smith's record "Crazy Blues" is also one of the earliest blues music, and started using the term "race" recording.

The Great Depression

October 24, 1929 - Approx. 1938

The Wall Street Crash of 1929 begins on Black Thursday, marked the beginning of the Great Depression in the United States. The huge drop of economy also brought down to the sale of records and advertisements on music.

U.S. Enters World War II; Migration Continues

Dec 7, 1941 - Approx. 1945

After World War I and just about US was entering World War II, economic and military mobilization creates new opportunities for African Americans to keep migrating and promoting their music, particularly in the urban centers of the North.

R&B was born


The term "race" records were substituted by the new term "Rhythm and Blues" by Jerry Wexler, an editor at Billboard magazine.

B.B. King's record

1949 - 1952

The blues music legend B.B. King published his first record in 1949. However, it is not until 1952 where "Three O'Clock Blues" is really where B.B. King's music started to become popular.

The Country Blues


Samuel Charters publishes The Country Blues, which made people connected to those music more closely at that time.

White Fans

Approx. 1969 - Approx. 1970

Muddy Waters and B.B. King both performed in a concert venue in the East Village region of New York City to mostly white audiences.

"Year of the Blues"


Congress declares 2003 the "Year of the Blues," commemorating the 100th anniversary of W.C. Handy's inspiration from an unknown early bluesman at a train station in Mississippi.