Prof. Jonathan Karp (SUNY Binghamton) In recent years, the story of Jewish participation in American popular music has been told as a tale of racial identity, emphasizing how Jews from Al Jolson to Neil Diamond paradoxically emulated Black style in order to "become white folks." But the story has another albeit neglected dimension: American Jews' perpetuation and adaptation of techniques of economic and cultural mediation derived from their status as a 'middleman minority' in Europe. This presentation will situate Black-Jewish musical and cultural relations within the broader history of Jewish middleman activity, examining in particular the commercially enterprising though morally ambiguous roles played by Jewish entrepreneurs in the development of Tin Pan Alley publishing and Rhythm and Blues recording.
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