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Early in Episode 1 of Ken Burns’s new PBS documentary “Country Music,” Kris Kristofferson calls the genre the “white man’s soul music.” However, music historians like Dr. Patrick Huber, commenting in a recent TIME magazine article about the documentary, note that the roots of country music include strong ties to African-American culture.
Huber is a professor of history at S&T. The TIME article, published on Sept. 11, is titled “Black Artists Built Country Music – And Then It Left Them Behind.”
TIME journalist Andrew R. Chow cites Huber’s 2013 essay, “Black Hillbillies: African American Musicians on Old-Time Records, 1924-1932,” in which Huber “details the startling diversity of hillbilly music, which featured a higher frequency of integrated sessions than any other genre except vaudeville blues. Nearly 50 African-American singers and musicians, he writes, appeared on commercial hillbilly records between those years — because the music was not a white agrarian tradition, but a fluid phenomenon passed back and forth between the races.’ As a result of exchanges and borrowing and theft and parody, southern music pre-World War I was fundamentally multicultural,’” Huber told TIME.