Blues music began as a blend of European and African music and it came to the Southern United States when African slaves were transported to America to work in the 19th century.
Slaves sang work songs rhythmically to the tasks being done. These songs used “call and response” in which words from the lead singer were followed in repetition by others.
Blues emerged in a more stylized form early in the 20th Century, typically in groups comprised of a lead singer backed by others on guitar, piano, drums and harmonica. Blues music became noted for its melancholy “blue” notes used to accentuate feelings of pain and deprivation.
As the World Wars and The Depression impacted the United States a geographic dispersion of the Blues occurred as millions of blacks left the South for cities in the North. The Blues adapted to the themes of these urban settings and a driving sound developed as instrumentation expanded to include electric guitars, bass, and electric harmonica.
The Blues have strongly influenced many other musical styles including rock and jazz.