Author

Warren Beebe

Date of Award

5-2019

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Kevin Greene, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

History

Abstract

This work focuses on the development of one of America's first musical tour routes: the Chitlin' Circuit. While its name may sound strange, the Chitlin' Circuit was responsible for the development of numerous distinct musical genres throughout the United States, such as blues and rock and roll in the twentieth century. Southern roadhouses, dive bars, and juke joints proudly showcased performers that gained initial fame touring with old medicine shows. As these artists gained recognition for their new musical stylings and elaborate showmanship, the owners of these local nightspots began to exchange contact information to better capitalize on these highly sought-after acts, forging business and travel links spanning throughout the South. Many well-known Southern cities were home to countless venues on the circuit, but there were also many rural towns that showcased these tough and gritty nightspots. When recording technology improved, individual acts on the Chitlin' Circuit gained national attention with their popular record releases, spreading the music of the circuit to the rest of the country. These new forms of music served as early precursors to rock and roll, and some were even used for commercial advertising purposes. The recording stars and their record companies that were born out of necessity would go on to become industry giants. The success stories that emerged from the circuit would inspire future generations of musicians to come, as the Chitlin' Circuit was the home of America's music.

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