Music became a part of mainstream America soon after the Industrial Revolution, when people had more disposable income, and a need for entertainment. The music industry was born. By the end of the 1920's nearly every home in America owned a radio. A new song which garnered radio play would be virtually guaranteed commercial success. Of course, this continues today.
Fast forward (pun intended) to the rock and roll era. No other form of music has had quite the impact on society as rock and roll. Rock and roll is rooted with rhythm and blues and country. Fans of rock and roll were originally drawn to the music because "it had a good beat and you could dance to it." Then, as it is today, fans of rock and roll are very passionate about the music, and they are usually absolutely immersed in the culture surrounding rock and roll.
In my opinion, the biggest contribution rock and roll made to society was the softening of race barriers. Rhythm and blues was predominately popular with African-Americans culture. Meanwhile, country music was mostly entertainment for white Americans. The synthesizing of the two art forms led to music enjoyed by both races.
Alan Freed, the originator of the term "rock and roll," was a major factor in bringing this new upbeat music to the forefront of American culture. In a time when the predominate attitudes toward race dictated that any music destined to be widely popular would come from white America, he played the new music he called "blues and rhythm." Most of the music Freed played during the early 1950's was by African-American artists. Freed played the music because he liked it, and he knew his listeners, which were predominately white, would like it too. He was right, and white teenagers were loving this new music. This gave the African-Americans legitimacy in the music world, and many historians agree that rock and roll helped tremendously toward better race relations.
My next blog will deal more with the life of Alan Freed. Meanwhile, please give me your opinions about the history of rock and roll concerning race relations.