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Black Soul in Action - The Sounds of a Jazz Family and the Silences in Their Archives


Embedded in the faded history of the musical Barbarin family are three factors deeply important to the history of New Orleans jazz. First, that the Barbarin’s musical success was rooted in the power of their extensive family and kinship networks. And in particular the ways those networks helped the Barbarins’ develop as musical professionals while navigating their careers within the Jim Crow South. Second, that the Barbarin’s archival materials almost completely ignore the significant role of race in New Orleans jazz and brass band culture. Third, that the reason families like the Barbarins have been largely forgotten, despite their outsize contributions to jazz, is because they refused to change their principles about musical authenticity as New Orleans transformed itself into a mecca for jazz tourism, for better and for worse.

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