Blues for the White Man

Hearing Black Voices in South Africa and the Deep South

Fred de Vries

Starting with an exploration of blues music, Fred de Vries seeks to understand white fear and black anger in the American Deep South and South Africa.
Date Published :
January 2022
Publisher :
Penguin Random House South Africa
Illustration :
8 pages of photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Paperback
ISBN : 9781776096008
Pages : 256
Dimensions : 9.2 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock


It started with a question about the blues: what makes the music of the downtrodden black man so alluring to white middle-class ears? And that’s where it gets interesting. Because blues is more than a musical genre: it’s a cultural phenomenon that spans several centuries on both sides of the Atlantic, from slavery to Black Lives Matter, from Jan van Riebeeck to Fees Must Fall, from Robert Johnson to Abdullah Ibrahim.

In Blues for the White Man, Fred de Vries looks for answers in America’s Deep South, drawing historical parallels with South Africa’s experience of colonialism, slavery, racism, civil war, segregation, and protest. Traveling to Atlanta, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Delta, De Vries speaks to musicians, Black Lives Matter activists, and Trump supporters. He continues the conversation in South Africa, interviewing student protesters, white farmers, and political thought-leaders to develop an understanding of white supremacy and black anger, white fear, and black pain. A fascinating, insightful journey through time and space, Blues for the White Man is a celebration of multiculturalism and a plea for white people to do some ‘second line dancing’ for a change.

About The Author

Fred de Vries is a Dutch writer and music fiend who moved to South Africa in 2003. He is the author of seven books, including Respect!, co-written with Toine Heijmans, which covers immigrant hip-hop culture in Europe; The Fred de Vries Interviews: From Abdullah to Zille; and Afrikaners, volk op drift, translated into Afrikaans as Rigtingbedonnerd, which was nominated for the Best Journalism Book and Best Travel Book in 2013. His 2006 work, Club Risiko, explores eighties underground culture in six cities, including New York and Johannesburg, and was nominated for the Gouden Uil book award in 2007.

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