My paper examines the production, circulation, and reception of this record. By linking Broonzy’s career to the transformations that occurred in the French and European blues markets, this paper queries the role of the record industry as an agent of political and social change. On one hand, record labels provided a new venue for a wide range of African American musicians who not only found new opportunities to record but also new channels through which to form an aesthetic rebuke to American racism. At the same time, however, many African American musicians were excluded from the ensuing profits, even while their racial visibility authenticated the proliferation of mass commodities and ensured revenue for the growing French record industry. In calling attention to this structural contradiction and inequity, this paper considers how the mobility of capital through goods and people was framed by the simultaneous limits to mobility and expression imposed on African Americans in the global marketplace.
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