Smokey Robinson and The Miracles Clockwise from left: Smokey Robinson, Pete Moore, Bobby Rogers, Ronnie White.

Music Education and the Birth of Motown

Music teachers in the Detroit public schools paved the way for the success of future Motown artists like Smokey Robinson and Mary Wilson of the Supremes.
A mother plays the guitar while her two daughters sing / Guitarist Joan Jett of the rock band "The Runaways" performs on stage in Los Angeles in August, 1977

At First, the Guitar Was a “Women’s Instrument”

The history of the guitar shows that musical instruments have been gendered—but just how changes over time.
Jelly Roll Morton and His Red Hot Peppers

How Mexican and Cuban Music Influenced the Blues

The pianist and composer Jelly Roll Morton once told an ethnomusicologist that real jazz tunes needed "tinges of Spanish."
Parental Advisory label

Parental Advisory: The Story of a Warning Label

Songs weren't always labeled for explicit lyrics. The history of how it all came about includes some unlikely bedfellows.
Linda Martell

The First Black Woman to Perform at the Grand Ole Opry

Linda Martell made the switch from R&B to country music in the late 1960s. Her star then shined on country's biggest stage.
The sheet music booklet for I'm Just Wild About Harry

When the Truman Campaign Used a Song from an All-Black Show

"I'm Just Wild about Harry" originated with the songwriting team of Sissle and Blake and first appeared in the Broadway musical Shuffle Along.
A moustachioed young man and a girl in long braids dance the 'original polka' on page one of 'Jullien's Celebrated Polkas', dedicated to Mr E Coulon.

The Rebellious, Scandalous Origins of Polka

The dance is often associated with the traditions of immigrant communities in America. But it emerged in Europe during a time of radicalism.
Kanye West performs Sunday Service during the 2019 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival in 2019

The Gospel According to Kanye West

On the making of gospel music, from Gospel Pearls to Jesus Is King.
A group of goths in Trafalgar Square, London, 1987

Goth Won’t Die, but It Wants a Funeral Anyway

Like its celebrated vampires, the Goth subculture has roots in a fascination with death and cultural transgression.
El Jaleo by John Singer Sargent, 1882

What Did Franco’s Spain Do to Spanish Music?

Contemporary Spanish genres like flamenco and zarzuela still carry the weight of cultural associations with Franco’s fascist regime.