Elvis Presley’s Black influence in Music

Jackie Wilson and Elvis Presley


Elvis Presley was an iconic musician who revolutionized the world of music. He was able to influence many audiences including black and white because he incorporated rock and roll and gospel music. Because of his upbringing he related well to the black community.

In the YouTube video Elvis Presley: Black Music Influence it was said that Elvis grew up for most of his life in the black part of Tupelo, Mississippi called Shake Rag. It was in Shake Rag where he learned to love the song called That’s All Right Little Mama by Arthur Crudup. Also he performed many songs by many famous soul, and rhythm and blues artists such as, Big Mama Thornton, Little Richard, Ray Charles and B.B. King. For the most part the rest of the video showed quotes from many black artists in his time praising him for his contributions in breaking the color barrier in music. When no one gave black music the opportunity to be heard, Elvis was the one to open the doors for black music. “Elvis’ music represents not just an amalgam of America’s folk traditions but a bold restatement of an egalitarian ideal.”

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I believe that this video was made in order to highlight how much Elvis was as influence not just as a musician, but as a person overall. The message that I got across from the video was that many of the black artists who knew Elvis were among those who were influenced by his style of music and many were appreciative of his courage to expand his music despite the many barriers that he had to overcome in order to achieve integration. It gave artists like Little Richard and B.B. King the assurance that they themselves would be able to have their music impact people of all races, not just blacks. Most importantly, the video made me see that in reality Elvis had a deep appreciation for all black music. He decided to include those elements of music in order to represent his experience with black culture as a child growing up.

Elvis Presley represented a movement within the integration of music. Not only did he represent the definition of what it meant to be a Caucasian artist who used the power of his black cultural upbringing to impact those who were against conformity, but he made it known that he was proud to expose that side of his being. Especially during a time where there was segregation between blacks and whites, Elvis went to an avenue of musical influence that no one of his ethnicity even dared to touch. Many people who have judge Elvis over the years for being racist against black people or for allegedly “stealing black dance moves” was proved wrong. This video clip demonstrated that all of those sayings were wrong and were discredited through quotes from black artists who knew Elvis from the artist to the human being.

In conclusion, Elvis was able to be a major influence within the black community because he was able to relate to the culture and the struggles that black people had. He used those experiences not only to break racial barriers in the music business, but to inspire a generation that was ready to connect with each other.

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