Jews, Race and Popular Music  book cover
1st Edition

Jews, Race and Popular Music

ISBN 9781138266001
Published November 15, 2016 by Routledge
238 Pages

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Book Description

Jon Stratton provides a pioneering work on Jews as a racialized group in the popular music of America, Britain and Australia during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Rather than taking a narrative, historical approach the book consists of a number of case studies, looking at the American, British and Australian music industries. Stratton's primary motivation is to uncover how the racialized positioning of Jews, which was sometimes similar but often different in each of the societies under consideration, affected the kinds of music with which Jews have become involved. Stratton explores race as a cultural construction and continues discussions undertaken in Jewish Studies concerning the racialization of the Jews and the stereotyping of Jews in order to present an in-depth and critical understanding of Jews, race and popular music.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Moanin' low: Jews, whiteness and torch singing; Jews dreaming of acceptance: from the Brill building to suburbia with love; 'Stay with me': torch songs and the assertion of Jewish difference in the 1960s and 1970s; Jews and blues: the Jewish involvement in the 1960s blues revival; The Beastie Boys: Jews in whiteface; A Jew singing like a black woman in Australia: race, Renée Geyer and Marcia Hines; Not quite English: Helen Shapiro's Jewishness and English exclusivity; Visibly Jewish: Amy Winehouse in multicultural Britain; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

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Jon Stratton, Curtin University of Technology, Australia


'Jon Stratton's book is a powerful contribution to not only Jewish studies, but our understanding of popular music. Exploring the ambivalent relationship to "whiteness" by Jews in America, England and Australia, Stratton shows that this dance between acceptance and rejection, assimilation and self-identification, is essential to our notions of rock, soul, and countless other forms of popular music. Beginning with minstrelsy, Stratton draws connections between this early bridge to "whiteness" and later musical movements such as torch singing, folk rock and hip hop. A well-researched, broad-reaching, and admirable book, Stratton's "Jews, Race and Popular Music" is also enjoyable, just like the music it describes.' Steven Lee Beeber, author of The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB's: A Secret History of Jewish Punk 'In this wide-ranging, continent-hopping, and reference-stuffed study, Jon Stratton has taken on the old "What is Jewish music?" question with both new vigor and a keen pop ear for issues of racial formation and musical identity. He adds new insight to familiar subjects - Tin Pan Alley, The Brill Building - and brings the Jewish question to bear on torch singing and the blues revival like few others have. That he follows the story to Australia and the U.K. (Helen Shapiro, meet Amy Winehouse) only adds to the book's sweep. Let the debates begin.' Josh Kun, University of Southern California, author of Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America ’Recommended.’ Choice ’In these different intersections of visuality and sound, of face and voice, of black, and white and Jew, the book contributes with important questions concerning different ways of reading popular music’s history. The last word on popular music and race will be a long time coming, but along the way Stratton’s discussions are going to contribute significantly to this on-going debate.’ Popular Musicology Online Jon Stratton's study is thought-provoking stuff with much of releva