Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Lewis & Clark College

Can White People Sing the Blues?

Added on by jay odenbaugh.

Listen to these classic John Lee Hooker songs, "It Serves You Right to Suffer" and "Tupelo." Joel Rubinow explores the claim that white people cannot play the blues because (a) they do so inauthentically, (b) African-Americans are proprietors of the blues and other are not, and (c) African-Americans have experiential access to the roots that spawned the blues (and white people do not). 

Is Rubinow correct -- can white people not sing the blues? What would it take to sing these John Lee Hooker songs authentically?