President’s Blues

Roosevelt’s Blues: African-American Blues and Gospel Songs on FDR

3a. Roosevelt's BluesIn Roosevelt’s Blues Guido van Rijn documents more than a hundred blues and gospel lyrics that contain direct political comment about FDR. Altogether, they convey the thought, spirit, and history of the African-American population during the Roosevelt era. Included in the book are recorded sermons by Rev. J.M. Gates and lyrics to songs recorded by such notable musicians as Leadbelly, Big Bill Broonzy, “Champion” Jack Dupree, Sonny Boy Williamson, Josh White, the Mississippi Sheiks, and many others. Using these sources, which have been neglected by historians, van Rijn documents Roosevelt’s vast popularity among blacks.

Read more about accompanying CD

The Truman and Eisenhower Blues: African-American Blues and Gospel Songs, 1945-196

4a. The Truman and Eisenhower BluesGuido van Rijn presents a fascinating and exhaustive account of the gospel and blues music of the immediate post-war period, shedding much light on the civil rights situation of the time and the experience of segregation as well as events such as the Atom Bomb, the Cold War, Korea and of course the Republican victory in 1956. He concentrates on songs that comment on contemporary political events and issues during a crucial time in the shaping of black consciousness in America. In doing so he uncovers a hidden black history of the eve of the emergence of the civil rights movement – a deep insight into the lives and opinions of people who had few other outlets of expression.

Read more about accompanying CD  (SOLD OUT)

Kennedy’s Blues: African American Blues and Gospel Songs on JFK

5a. Kennedy's BluesKennedy’s Blues collects in a single volume the blues and gospel songs written by African Americans about the presidency of John F. Kennedy and offers a close analysis of Kennedy’s hold upon the African American imagination. These blues and gospel songs have never been transcribed and analyzed in a systematic way, so this volume provides a hitherto untapped source on the perception of one of the most intriguing American presidents.

After eight years of Republican rule the young Democratic president received a warm welcome from African Americans. However, with the Cold War military draft and the slow pace of civil rights measures, inspiration temporarily gave way to impatience.

Read more about accompanying CD

President Johnson’s Blues: African-American Blues and Gospel Songs on LBJ, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy and Vietnam 1963-1968

6a. President Johnson's Blues

President Johnson’s Blues illustrates how African Americans experienced the Johnson presidency. This is achieved by an analysis of blues and gospel lyrics of the period containing more or less direct social and political comment. The lyrics of these often very rare records, which have never been systematically transcribed before, are vital and hitherto neglected sources of oral history.

When Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson succeeded the assassinated President Kennedy he was hailed enthusiastically by the blues and gospel singers, most of whom had been born in the southern states and saw an ally in the new Texas president. Johnson’s acute political skills ensured that the 1964 Civil Rights Bill was approved by Congress. However, the President was not allowed to reap the benefits of the Act for long.

Read more about accompanying CDs

The Nixon and Ford Blues: African-American Blues and Gospel Songs on Vietnam, Watergate, Civil Rights and Inflation 1969-1976

7a. The Nixon and Ford BluesThe Nixon and Ford Blues starts with an assessment of the blues and gospel artists’ response to the first landing on the Moon. Next Nixon’s often misunderstood civil rights contribution is analyzed. Special attention is paid to Nixon’s impressive support of education desegregation at a time of campus demonstrations, urban violence and ghetto trouble. Although Nixon had run for president promising to end the War in Vietnam, it would take four years before a peace treaty was signed. Blues and gospel songs about the first part of the war were studied in President Johnson’s Blues, the musicians’ response to the continuing entanglement in South-east Asia is discussed in this fifth volume.

Read more about the accompanying CDs

The Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr. & Obama Blues: African-American Blues And Gospel Songs 1976-2012

8a. The Carter Etc. BluesThe present book does not deal with one or two presidencies, but with six. This is evidence of the fact that traditional blues and gospel music are dying art forms. Still, enough blues and gospel songs with a sociopolitical content were traced to enable the writing of chapters on each of the six latest American presidents and to analyze African-American perception of the most memorable events of their presidencies.

Read more about accompanying CDs