[W.C. Handy] decided this was going to be a rebellion against the commercialization of African American music and what popular music songwriters did to the institutions of Ragtime, the Blues and Jazz. This was going to return it to its roots. A new music that would combine all of his expertise and what he learned, traveling the small towns, taking in the sounds of it…

So musical names, the genre names they just kind of evolve. But some of the classic ones the sound of the genre sounds like the music itself… syncopation of Ragtime, the sound of the soft Blues, or the real brassy sound of Jazz. What’s he going to call this new Chicago song? He called it the Gouge. This is the original sheet music for it.

Nobody gathers on the lakefront under the bandshell for the gouge festival… until tonight!

Exhibited by Tim Samuelson

Transcript edited by Sarah Crawford


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