Dr. Bradley Shope is a friend of this project and one of our active historical advisors.
Brad currently teaches in the Division of Music, Theory and Ethnomusicology at the University of North Texas . While researching his treatise “THE PUBLIC CONSUMPTION OF WESTERN MUSIC IN COLONIAL INDIA” (published August 2008, in South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies) his work took him to Lucknow, where he learned that there was a very active western music culture. In the course of interviews with residents in Lucknow, it became apparent that jazz had been part of the popular culture in Lucknow, as early as the 1930s. In his continuing research, he learned that jazz has a history in India stretching back to the late 1910’s !. He cites H.J. Collett who identifies Ken Mac as the first popular jazz musician, “noting that in the early 1920’s he filled 40 engagements a month, playing as many as 30-35 numbers a session’. Many years later in 1947, Ken Mac would perform at the Independence function at the Karachi Club, attended by M. A. Jinnah and other senior leaders of the new country
Brad’s research work has been significant and in a later treatise ‘THEY TREAT US WHITE FOLKS FINE’ -African American musicians and the popular music terrain in late colonial India, he did groundbreaking research in how African American musicians significantly expanded the presence of jazz in India.“Arriving in India in the mid-1930s seeking performance opportunities and an improved quality of life, African American jazz musicians were active in expanding the presentation and consumption of jazz and Western popular music. Finding appeal in the power and success that African American musicians commanded, Anglo-Indian and Goan musicians also performed jazz in cosmopolitan centres throughout India. In Bombay, Goan musicians integrated Western popular music into local live performances in cabarets, and eventually into some early film songs. This article outlines the role of African American musicians in increasing the terrain of Western popular music in India beginning in the 1930s, and concludes by speculating on the artists’ influence on early Bombay cabaret songs and the ‘hybrid’ music of the early film industry.”
Please share your comments on this post , and in particular, help us with any photos or other memorablia that you might have that relates to early jazz scene in Lahore, Lucknow, or Bangalore.
If you would like to read Brad’s fascinating research , please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks Brad !