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Book: Kansas City Jazz

Chapter: Shouters and Singers

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.42625


Just as there was a contrast between the rougher, Coleman Hawkins imitators and the followers of Lester Young, Kansas City vocalists used two approaches; shouting and singing. The shouting style was a form of sung speech, as practiced by Joe Turner who learned by imitating blind street singers whom he assisted in his youth; these singers typically accompanied themselves on blues guitar. Singers such as Jimmy Rushing, by contrast, were more polished and came out of middle-class backgrounds where the themes and lyrics of blues were looked down upon while the rhythmic core of the music was retained. The heirs of these two traditions down to the recent past are profiled.

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