Showcasing African American Musical Influence on Your Tour

Feb 10, 2015

Travel Notes

One would be hard-pressed to think of a genre of American music that is not heavily influenced by African American musicians. While the influence of African Americans on our nation’s music is found in nearly every major city, a few cities do a particularly good job of showcasing that influence and educating today’s students. Here are some student-friendly destinations that are rich in history and definitely worth visiting on your next tour:

In New Orleans

It would be difficult to find a city more influential to the Jazz scene in the United States than New Orleans. Built in 1961 to preserve and protect New Orleans Jazz, Preservation Hall holds performances nightly. Their resident Jazz band will give students a taste of real New Orleans Jazz. Artists like Ellis Marsalis and Buddy Bolden got their start in other Jazz clubs throughout New Orleans, and you are sure to see some of the best up-and-coming artists performing in these venues today. New Orleans is also the home of one of the greatest American musicians of all time, Louis Armstrong. A visit to his home and museum is the perfect way to round out your New Orleans Jazz experience.

In Memphis

The 1950’s saw rise to new kinds of music, specifically Rock and Soul. Memphis, Tennessee became one of the epicenters of this genre’s growth. A good starting point to learning about African Americans’ immense influence on the genre can be found at the Memphis Rock and Soul Museum. Then, head over to the STAX museum of American Soul Music, for a more in-depth look at how this genre helped shaped our county’s history. Memphis became more than just the center of Rock and Soul music, but also one of the centers of the American Civil Rights movement. As such, groups should also take time to learn about the struggles of the African American community during the 1950’s and 60’s, with a visit to the National Civil Rights Museum.

In New York City

Following in the footsteps of New Orleans, New York City became an especially vibrant home to Jazz music. Its influence remains especially prevalent today in Harlem, where your group can visit the National Jazz Museum, as well as take a walking tour of the Jazz sights throughout the borough. After discovering some of its history, take in a performance of Jazz at Lincoln Center, to see how the music has progressed today.

What are some of your favorite places for learning about and experiencing American music? Leave your thoughts in the comments, or contact us to begin planning a student performance tour to one of these destinations.

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