Creating a New Charleston Music Sound
As Charleston’s history developed, jazz music became an integral part of it due to the Gullah people. Since 40% of the African Americans transported to the US arrived through Charleston, many of them settled in the low country across Georgia and South Carolina. They brought percussion, Geechee dances and evolved their own creole language.
Determined to preserve some of their African traditions, the Gullah made music at night around the campfire. When this music was heard by Charleston musicians, they evolved the rhythms to become ragtime. One of the first was Eubie Bake’s ‘Charleston Rag’ that was followed by another dance craze, the Charleston, in the 1920s.
By 1934, the direction of music shifted to Broadway when George and Ira Gershwin developed the novel, Porgy, by DuBose Heyward, into the Great American Opera, ‘Porgy and Bess.’ The setting was Charleston, and the show was a hit that remains popular today.
Jazz may have been a beginning for music in Charleston, but it transformed with Darius Rucker, a Charleston native who hit the rock music scene in 1986. He became a music icon with rock and country hit songs. Always, he remained loyal to Charleston, returning every year to give a summer concert.
Now, it’s time for a new Charleston sound, and Magus Productions is searching for local artists to help establish music that exemplifies “Charleston.”
Here’s a weblink to our first effort at a Charleston sound, Chucktown Blues. The melody was created by Charles Parks, a lowcountry blues player, lyrics by Georgie Rhein of Magus, and performed by Jim Algar, who is a local Charleston entertainer. The song was produced by Bryan Minton at Magus Productions.