Elvis Presley Essay Research Paper Christopher EstiloreUS

Elvis Presley Essay, Research Paper

Christopher Estilore

US History

Elvis Presley had a huge and lasting effect on American culture during the effect on America culture during the 1950 s Presley became the teen idol of his decade. In the mid-1950 s Elvis was one of the young musicians rising to fame playing and singing a new type of popular music. This music, known as rock n roll, came to define an era. During his career, he would be mobbed by screaming fans, majority of which were young women. He was one of the first pop culture icons in America. Elvis stirred up many issues of controversy during his reign as king. Censorship of his performance had been argued by many parents because of the suggestive motions of how he would dance, which was though to be sexual. His style of music was also a new sound. The blend of southern rhythm-and-blues, country music, and gospel which he heard as a child growing up gave him a new and unique sound. This fusion of sound in music was especially an issue because of segregation, which was still in existence at the time. The 1950 s however would be a decade in which many events would lead to the end of segregation. Elvis would bring a new way of singing by combining black and white styles of music which would symbolize the way that times were changing. His death didn t even effect his popularity with his fans.

In the summer of 1953 Sam Philips, President of the Sun Record Company, had taken attention to Elvis. Sam Philips was agains racism and segregation. He believed that if he could get a white man, to sing with the feel of a black man, he could make a million dollars. When Elvis went to make a personal record which was supposed to be a gift for his mother, Sam Philips knew that Elvis Presley would be the man he was looking for. A year later he made his first commercial recording for the record company. Such songs which Elvis recorded were That s All right for Sun Records, originally penned by Arthur Crudup, and Heartbreak Hotel for RCA. Songs like these had a rhythm-and-blues feel, the way that Elvis sang them. In 1955 RCA records had bought Elvis s record contract from Sam Philips, and by 1956 Elvis was selling records and had also become a television star. When on television, the way he would gyrate his hips as he danced. Many people thought this was too suggestive and the american audience was not yet ready to watch. Because of this, most of his television performances were filmed from the waist up.

Elvis had moved to Memphis from Tupelo with his parents when he was a young child. He would go out exploring the town with his cousin looking for women and music. The location of where Elvis lived had a great effect on his outlook of music because of the different styles of music he would be exposed to. He and his cousin would collect rhythm-and-blues records. The types of artists Elvis would listen to were: Aaron walker, Sonny Boy Williamson, Arthur Crudup, and other blues singers. When he went to go make the record for his mother he wanted to hear if he sounded like the men on the records which he collected at home.

In 1955, Elvis had many young fans. He had no problem selling out shows when he went on tour. When Elvis went into his act, the teenagers would go wild. The girls would mob him and literally tear apart Elvis s clothes for souvenirs. Elvis had a huge effect on the music industry. He could be a rock and roll singer, a gospel singer, a country singer, and a rhythm-and-blues singer. He had a style all his own which combined all these different elements of his background turning him into a pop culture icon.

While Elvis was making an effect during the mid-1950 s another king was also trying to make an effect on America. Martin Luther King, Jr. was holding direct nonviolent protests to get rid of segregation. The first major successful nonviolent protest held by blacks was the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. The boycott was led by Martin Luther King, Jr. The protest was a supportful aftermath of the act of Rosa Parks, whom refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger on December 1, 1955. Resistance to black demands for the desegregation of Montgomery’s buses was finally overcome when the Supreme Court ruled in November 1956 that the segregation of public transportation facilities was unconstitutional. To coordinate further civil rights action, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was established in 1957 under King’s leadership.

At the end of World War II, black Americans were poised to make far-reaching demands to end racism. They were unwilling to give up the minimal gains that had been made during the war. The campaign for black rights went forward on during the 1950s in persistence. In the courts the NAACP successfully attacked racially restrictive covenants in housing, segregation in interstate transportation, and discrimination in public recreational facilities. In 1954 the United States Supreme Court issued one of its most significant rulings. In the case Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the court overturned the “separate but equal” ruling of 1896 and outlawed segregation in the nation’s school systems. White citizens’ councils in the South fought back with legal maneuvers, economic pressure, and even violence. Rioting by white mobs temporarily closed Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., when nine black students were admitted to it in 1957.


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