How Blues Changed the Music World

The Crossroads gallery chronicles the history and influence of the blues, whose humble origins are rooted in the work songs and field hollers sung by sharecroppers and lumber mill workers throughout the post-slavery period in the Deep South and the Mississippi Delta in the 19th century. As African Americans migrated from the rural South to urban cities in the North, they took the blues and other musical and cultural traditions with them. Museum visitors will encounter female blues singers who recorded “race records” in the 1920s, the influence of the blues on white country music, and the rock and roll sound of the 1950s. The narrative ends with a further look into contemporary blues and its modern masters, many of whom were a part of the Great Migration. While in the gallery, guests can construct their own blues tunes using state-of-the-art interactive panels, and see instruments played by some of the genre's pioneers.