Boise Highlights

Fighting Oppression in Music

Parker Winn, Reporter

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     Between 1897 and 1902 in Marlin, Texas, A baby boy named Willie is born into low class, black family of George Johnson and Mary Fields. Fields dies shortly after the birth of this baby boy, Johnson remarries and raises this baby boy with his second wife.

     In his first years of childhood, Willie is blinded by lye water, shortly thereafter though,Willie picks up a cigar box guitar, a simple instrument, inferior to the beautifully crafted instruments of professional musicians, but Willie picks it up, perhaps the start of one of the most important musical instances ever.

     After years of practice and dedication, now as an adult and now playing professionally as “Blind Willie Johnson”, he crafts himself a new type of music. Blues. Sprouting from pain and oppression, Blues music and every genre that comes from it is important for how music shapes itself, from robust hip hop to energetic punk rock, Willie played one of the biggest parts in letting musicians speak their minds, and make an impact towards achieving actual justice in America.

    Just before Willie’s death, another baby is born. Jimi Hendrix, the name behind this new baby boy, first picked up an instrument in 1957 when he borrowed a ukelele from an old woman’s home. It only had one string, but Jimi managed to learn several Elvis Presley songs by ear. Thus beginning the legendary music career of Jimi Hendrix.

     As a young adult, facing prejudice and pain in a modern America, Jimi decided to make . Crafting The Jimi Hendrix Experience and founding Electric Lady Studios, as well as releasing several albums and singles that crushed music billboard ratings and took the world, specifically the US and UK by storm.

     In 1969 Jimi played the Star Spangled Banner for a crowd of just 500,000. This rendition of our country’s national anthem was played to conclude Woodstock ‘69, and the performance would later be known as one of the most important performances and moments in musical history. The performance was later labeled an embodiment of the 1960’s, as it displayed how much love people felt for their country, and how-especially in the ‘60’s- those who felt they had been wronged could finally speak their mind without being prosecuted or punished.

     Others of course moved Hendrix’s and Willie’s movement forward, Joan Jett became a figurehead for women and former suffragettes, many rappers  in the 80’s greatly affected the discussion of race and police brutality, and in modern times, similar events take place every day. Several musicians and artists in multiple eras have inspired change in America. Although change should have already been achieved, our nation, as always, is very stubborn to real, concrete change. So for now, we’ll just have to keep fighting.

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Fighting Oppression in Music