Blues  •  Country Blues


The songster tradition both pre-dated and co-existed with blues music, especially in the areas of the Southeast that produced music in the Piedmont style. It began soon after the end of slavery in the south, when African-American musicians became able to travel and play music for a living. Usually a solo musician with a guitar, or occasionally a banjo, the songster would perform songs from a variety of musical styles including gospel, field songs and folk, and later ragtime and blues. Songsters were performers, first and foremost, and maintained the broad repertoire to appeal to a wide range of audiences. Through vehicles like minstrel and medicine shows, the black songsters interacted with white musicians, who would later adopt the black musicians' songs and use them, along with songs from white sources, as the foundations of early country music.