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The History of Blues Music in New Orleans


New Orleans is a city with deep and rich art history, it is a city that has inspired some of the greatest artists we know today. New Orleans is known worldwide for its affinity with Blues music, rich soulful blues. New Orleans is reputed to be where jazz came to life and gained notoriety.

The citizens of New Orleans are usually very knowledgeable about music that is part of the reasons many notable artists that play there like to play for small groups of people so they can foster that unique connection with their audience. Most artists that play in New Orleans use Vintage guitars because it is virtually impossible to play blues with the rich tone of vintage guitars.

Blues in New Orleans is referred to as “New Orleans Blues” this form of blues originated in New Orleans and its surroundings, it was greatly impacted music from the Caribbean and jazz. The instruments used in this type of blues are mostly saxophone, piano, and guitars.

The History of Blues Music in New Orleans 

Music historians say that the origins of blues can be traced upriver from the city of New Orleans, in the regions that were mainly for farming in the northwest of Mississippi in towns like Clarkdale. Blues originated from the people that worked the cotton and cane fields in these towns.

Overtime drums, guitars, and other instruments were joined to the vocals of these field workers, this is what became blues music that we know and love today. The man that is often called the father of blues Huddie Ledbetter, who grew up in Shreveport, is credited with having written classic blues songs like “Good night, Irene”.

In the 1950s blues was integrated with jazz in New Orleans and this gave rise to a new type of music we know today as R&B which stands for rhythm and blues. R&B draws greatly from the blues genre and appeals to fans of blues.

Throughout New Orleans, you can find blues players performing live in clubs and restaurants. New Orleans is often credited as the place that Blues was born. There is the Twelve (12) bar blues that is notorious in New Orleans. Certain bands and artists from the 1900s are well known for their achievements in blues music. Some of these artists are:

  • The Original Dixieland Jazz Band: this was a well-known band that made “Livery Stable Blues” this is a fast form of blues music.
  • Buddy Bolden’s Band: this is a band that excelled at playing blues music evening before the year 1906 in New Orleans. 
  • Anthony Maggio: he made “I Got the Blues” which is one of the earliest examples of sheet music that was published in 1908.

New Orleans has always been a center of rich music, even though it does not have as many blues musicians as other cities in the US it still has its sit high in the echelon of blues music and history. Its unique form of blues has produced life-changing songs that have gained notoriety all over the world.

In the 1960s at the emergence of soul and rock and roll, the popularity of blues music declined and the careers of many blues artists declined, however, blues gained back prominence in the 1970s and has maintained it ever since, especially in Louisiana, specifically New Orleans. 

Blues music is a soulful and rich genre of music that can stir up a variety of emotions, it can make you feel happier or sad, excited, or melancholic but no matter how it makes you feel you cannot deny its appeal and popularity. In this article, we have explored its origins in New Orleans.