Bobby 'Blue' Bland
27.1.1930 - 23.6.2013
By 13 year old Cormac...
On the date of 27.01.1930, in Millington, Tennessee, 'Bobby Bland' - christened 'Robert Calvin Brooks' - was born. Very soon later, his father, I.J Brooks, abandoned him to be raised after by his mother, Mary Lee.
Being the 1930s, many black folk were being made to work in the cotton fields, so at the age of just 6 (and without a formal education), he left home in order to do so. Although living and working in the cotton fields was tough, he did learn new skills and abilities. Whilst there, he developed quite an aptitude for singing: he credited most of his musical knowledge to 'T-Bone Walker', a previous, and one of the first blues artists, whom he greatly respected and looked up to. If you listen to both Bobby's and T-Bone's music, Bland's is clearly influenced by the early jazz and blues music of T-Bone's era.
'Blue' moved to Memphis in 1947, which was a big step to becoming what he'd always wanted to become. He joined what then was a group called 'The Miniatures', but later moved on to become one of the founding members of 'The Beale Streeters'. This was when his career really started picking up, as then, Bobby began recording for multiple different labels - such as 'Chess', 'Duke Records' and 'Modern'. All very big record labels, at the time.
Unfortunately, right after he was beginning to get the attention of the public, in 1952, Bland was drafted to the military for 2 years in combat; after this, would then go on to take many more different jobs. However, these were not the jobs he had been dreaming to have, but other jobs. This was the only thing he could do to keep himself going: as nothing else, even becoming a singer and an aspiration to future generations, would give him sustainability.
Finally, in 1957, after working for 3 years as a valet and chauffeur, Bobby 'Blue' Bland had his big break. He signed a contract with Duke, a label he had worked for in the past, and recorded his first No. 1 single, ‘Farther Up The Road’. After releasing this, he gained worldwide attention, and was already a fan favourite.
'Blue' got his name, originally, from a song he made called "Little Boy Blue". In the future though, is was more a fitting name, due to his repetitive 'blue' or sad themes given to his songs. For example the song 'I Don't Need No Woman' by Bland, has a theme/mood of dissatisfaction with love and women. He wants to be a free man, rather than having a woman telling him how to live his life.
Bobby 'Blue' Bland was not only one of the most iconic and famous Blues artists of all time, he was - and still should be - also an excellent role model to kids/aspiring musical artists all around the world.
About blues music: Blues music was created to keep the spirits and hopes of slaves up - during the early 1900s. It started in Mississipi but slowly influenced and spread across the US and Africa. Work songs or 'Field Hollers' are the types of songs sang in the cotton fields, for slaves to enjoy themselves while working.
CCCC FFCC GFCC: this is the chord chart of Blues music. Improvisation, or 'Improv', is very important in the Blues, because it conveys a lot more emotion than prewritten music. It also makes the listener feel what the pianist is feeling. For example, if the person playing the piano if feeling frustrated or irritated, they may show this in their improv by playing notes which are lower down on the piano.
Riffs are important to the overall feel and rhythm of the music, as they keep the listener interested and involved. These make the music a lot more catchy and memorable.
Instruments used in Blues music are often Harmonicas, guitars, drums and pianos. Occasionally, different instruments are used but these are the main ones.