In this Earl Scruggs Center presentation, Billy Stevens demonstrates how historic interactions between African Americans and European Americans shaped the evolution of American popular music. With its roots in slavery and the fusion of musical traditions brought from both Africa and Europe, American music is a natural outgrowth of the unique culture of the American South. From rap stars to rock ‘n’ rollers, gospel shouters to big band crooners, from Stephen Foster to Elvis Presley, a pattern of contact and conflict between white and black cultures fueled the creation of confluent musical forms recognized worldwide as distinctly American.
Billy Stevens has extensive international touring experience sponsored by the US Information Agency of the Department of State. He has presented his lecture/demonstration “The History of the Blues: the Roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll” in more than 40 countries including India, Kenya, Israel and Palestine as well as in North and South Carolina. Stevens has many years experience as a solo artist with a variety of bands. In addition to being a musician and lecturer, he is a world champion carrom player and founder of the United States Carrom Association. His master’s degree is from the University of Mississippi.
This project is made possible by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.