What kind of music did Langston Hughes listen to in Harlem?
Langston Hughes. James Mercer Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. His parents divorced when he was a young child, and his father moved to Mexico.
Langston Hughes is renowned for his contributions to a literary movement known as the Harlem Renaissance. His poetry and writings brought this literary movement of the 1920s to the forefront and shaped America. Learn a few interesting facts about the literary genius Langston Hughes. 1. Innovator of Jazz Poetry
He was especially inspired by jazz and blues, spending hours in the nightclubs of Harlem and Washington, D.C., listening and writing. “I tried to write poems like the songs they sang on Seventh Street,” he said of his poetry.
Hughes wrote in several literary genres including poetry, plays, short stories and novels. He is best known for his poetry, using jazz and Black folk rhythms in his work, ignoring classical forms in favor of the oral and improvisational traditions of Black culture.
For Hughes, jazz was a way of life. A vocal proponent of racial consciousness, the poet considered jazz and the blues to be uniquely African-American art forms, both of which spurned the desire for assimilation and acceptance by white culture, and instead rejoiced in black heritage and creativity.
Langston Hughes received a scholarship to Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania, where he received his Bachelor of Arts(B.A.) degree in 1929. One year later, his first published novel, called Not Without Laughter, won the Golden Harmon Award for best novel.
Droning a drowsy syncopated tune, The speaker is listening to a black blues singer play a “drowsy syncopated tune.” In other words, he’s playing a slow, jazzy song—rocking back and forth as he does so in time with the music.
The syncopated rhythms and improvisation in Blues music attracted new listeners during the Harlem Renaissance. This unique sound meant that no two performances would sound the same. Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday popularized Blues and jazz vocals at this time.
Hughes must be considered the founder of the jazz poetry genre, for none of the jazz-related poets who preceded him merged the two art forms, as he did. The respect and success that Hughes was given reflected on jazz music and its legitimacy as an important style of music.
Hughes’ poetry is closely connected to jazz music. In fact, he founded the style of poetry called “jazz poetry,” in which the rhythm of the poem when spoken aloud mirrors the sounds that jazz music make. Hughes is also celebrated for his portrayal of the nuances of life as an African-American in the 1920s.
The Weary Blues
“The Weary Blues” is a poem by American poet Langston Hughes. Written in 1925, “The Weary Blues” was first published in the Urban League magazine, Opportunity. It was awarded the magazine’s prize for best poem of the year.
Hughes had a fondness for Black popular music especially, regularly composing his own Blues verses and replicating the rhythms of jazz in his poetry. With an inarguable mastery of language, he nonetheless wrote his poems for the everyday people whose music and art always inspired him.