Americas so many genres of music provide a fitting metaphor for the American experience–born of, and intricately bound to, innumerable strains of global ancestry, yet bold and far-reaching, dismissive enough of history to declare themselves, and to essential be, “new.” American/Appalachian folk music in’t indigenous? It can trace its origin to a combination of British ballads, the Spanish guitar, the transplanted African instrument we now know as the banjo. American blues has clear ancestors in Mali, American jazz, funk and soul, and disco and hip hop too, can follow their family trees back to Africa. (And early jazz to Latin rhythms, and hip hop to the sound system deejays of Jamaica . . .) Native American and First Nations music was born in the U.S. and Canada, for sure . . . unless you trace the route of American indigenous people back through the northern path across the land bridge to Asia, or southward into the heart of South America. So American musicians are immigrants, but at the same time inventors, taking whatever raw materials are at their disposal, crafting brand new creations–like jazz, blues, hip hop and pop–that the world may have never considered, and now would be hard-pressed to live without.
Explore these genres of music from the U.S. and Canada: