"Black-Jewish relations," Jeffrey Melnick argues, has mostly been a way for American Jews to talk about their ambivalent racial status, a narrative collectively constructed at critical moments, when particular conflicts demand an explanation. Melnick elaborates this idea through an in-depth look at Jewish songwriters, composers, and performers who made "Black" music in the first few decades of this century. He shows how Jews such as George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Al Jolson, and others were able to portray their "natural" affinity for producing "Black" music as a product of their Jewishness, while simultaneously depicting Jewishness as a stable white identity. Melnick also contends that this cultural activity competed directly with Harlem Renaissance attempts to define Blackness. Moving beyond the narrow focus of advocacy group politics, this book enriches our understanding of the cultural terrain shared by African Americans and Jews.
Buy A Right to Sing the Blues book by Jeffrey Melnick from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(235mm x 155mm x 15mm)
Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
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Author Biography - Jeffrey Melnick
Jeffrey Melnick is Associate Professor of American Studies at University of Massachusetts Boston.