Music history, meanings discussed


Dr. William “Ted” McDaniel gave a lively talk about music for the Delaware County Historical Society on Feb. 22 in the Barn at Stratford.

The title of the event was “Understanding Black History Through Black Music, Part 2,” and by popular demand, McDaniel, a retired Ohio State University music professor and an Ohio Humanities speaker, was asked to return to the Barn.

Before McDaniel spoke, though, local music fan Sandy Andromeda showed the audience his collection of Rusty Bryant records, posters, etc. Bryant (1929-91) was a local jazz great who had a major hit called “Night Train” and discovered Columbus jazz singer Nancy Wilson. The showpiece of the collection was Bryant’s saxophone, seen publicly for the first time in years.

McDaniel said he was impressed by the Bryant collection, and said of him, “He was the most colorful character you could meet. He loved everyone and had a wonderful sense of humor. He was a fantastic musician, and he deserved that star he has in front of the Lincoln Theater (in Columbus).”

Sadly, COVID kept the Delaware Zion AME Church Choir from attending and performing. However, McDaniel used his iPhone to provide musical examples during his presentation.

“Everywhere I go, I hear Black music,” McDaniel said, explaining that he’s “heard the blues in red China and Stevie Wonder in Dakar, Senegal.” Anyone can learn it as well, he said.

He noted that Emancipation and Reconstruction were watershed moments in Black American history, because in a sense it freed up the mind and latent artistic talent largely limited to work songs and spirituals. What eventually emerged was jazz, blues, rock and hip-hop.

“We tell our story in our music,” McDaniel said. “it’s a repository of our ideas.”

To underscore the point, he played “Message in the Music,” a song by Ohio soul group The O’Jays.

“Songs provide the opportunity for expression,” McDaniel said, analyzing the lyrics of two famous songs, “St. Louis Blues” and “Stormy Monday.”

“I have come to realize that Black History Month, it’s an opportunity to put the spotlight on the accomplishments of Black people,” McDaniel said. “White people can celebrate, too.”

In an unrelated event, the City of Delaware’s second annual celebration of Black History Month took place at SourcePoint on Feb. 24 with a free event called “African Americans and the Arts” with Dr. Jason Rawls, assistant professor of hip-hop at OSU and local visual artist Lance Johnson.

Assistant Editor Gary Budzak covers the eastern half of Delaware County and surrounding areas. He may be reached at [email protected].

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