Jazz and World War Ii: Reciprocal Effects and Relationships

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Jazz and World War II: Reciprocal Effects and Relationships

Both Jazz music and World War II had a significant impact on each other. Jazz music boosted the morale of soldiers fighting abroad and also lifted the spirits of their loved ones back at home. Many jazz musicians were soldiers, and several others traveled overseas or across the country to entertain U.S. troops. Among these performers were Bing Crosby, Artie Shaw, and Benny Carter. Jazz music was not only evident in American culture, but also in European countries, particularly in Nazi-occupied areas where it was a sign of rebellion. I want to further explore how the war affected the accessibility of jazz during the time, as well as how the war helped shape the musical direction of the genre.

During the war jazz had numerous effects on the people of many countries: the soldiers who fought, citizens of each country involved in the war efforts, musicians, politicians, and many others. World War II affected many aspects of wartime life as well, as the economy and social structure of the United States were both heavily impacted by the war effort. Jazz served as an incredible tool for motivating and entertaining the citizens and soldiers of World War II. During the war, jazz was a highly effective rallying cry for U.S. serviceman abroad. As soldiers fought in foreign countries, it was very powerful to have music that carried such a patriotic message and reminded soldiers of what they were fighting for. Jazz didn’t have the stereotypical pomp and circumstance characteristics that many marches had (i.e. “Stars and Stripes Forever” and Grand Ol’ Flag”) but rather an exciting and different feel that energized and captivated much of that generation. The United Service Organizations Inc. (USO) was pivotal in bringing celebrities, artists, and performers from Hollywood to Europe in order to provide entertainment and fun for the troops abroad.

Jazz also added a cultural war aspect to World War II. As jazz...
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