There was something about the music that evening, at a party in her honor, that immediately captured Bessie Smith’s attention. As she entered the party with a few of her girlfriends, Smith remarked in classic fashion, “The funk is flyin’.”
Tony Bolden teaches courses on African-American music and culture at the University of Kansas. His first book Afro-Blue: Improvisations in African American Poetry and Culture (2004) examined interrelationships between blues, jazz, and black poetic styles. Bolden’s collection of essays The Funk Era and Beyond: New Perspectives on Black Popular Culture was published in 2008, and he recently guest-edited “The Funk Issue,” a special issue of American Studies.