How did the blues, or a particular musician or song, inspire the work you will present at Waterline?
I would say the blues didn’t necessarily “inspire,” but rather, provoked the work.
I enjoy blues music, and older recordings in particular, but I find that my enjoyment is fraught with my own inadequacy.
Bessie Smith’s 1920s recordings for Columbia surely evoke an emotion, but who am I to pretend I can ever understand where Bessie Smith is coming from? …who was orphaned at the age of 9 …who busked with her brother on the streets of Chattanooga …who was at one time the highest-paid black entertainer of her time, but then was buried in 1937 in an unmarked grave after dying in a segregated hospital …whose grave remained unmarked until 1970.
The blues shines a spotlight on privilege. And while we might feel something listening to it, I don’t believe us capable of really understanding.
Emily Hollis Tipping is an editor, poet and sometimes-singer living in Warrenville, Ill. She has worked in the publishing industry for the past 20 years, spending the past 12 years as Editorial Director for a business-to-business publication covering recreation, sports and fitness facility management. She has self-published one book of poetry, Cold Moon, September 2016. A second book, titled Field Notes, is in progress.
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