Freedom Music : Wales, Emancipation and Jazz 1850–1950


Throughout history, Wales has escaped attention in academic publications by jazz historians. The people of Wales have been perceived as chapel-going and choir-singing, and thus not deserving of further study. In her new book, however, Professor Jen Wilson reclaims for Wales the history and culture of a music that eventually emerged as jazz in the 1920s.

With a particular focus on the emancipation and contribution of Welsh women to music and its socio-cultural heritage, Wilson uncovers an abundance of misogyny and discrimination within jazz music and, detailing an era defined by waves of protest and rebellion, this book strives to answer a question to echo Gwyn A. Williams’s ‘When Was Wales?’ in 1985, by asking ‘When Was Jazz?’.

From Abolitionist collaborations, minstrelsy, ‘weird slave songs’, ragtime, blues, hot music and swing, Professor Wilson explores the strong links between emerging African American music in the USA and the development of jazz in mainstream popular culture in Wales. The stories in this volume, published by University of Wales Press, will attract not only social and political historians, but feminists, jazz fans, academics interested in African American cultural interchange, and general readers fascinated by the cast of characters who played and danced to the music.

Professor Ian Walsh, Dean of UWTSD Swansea College of Art said : "Professor Wilson and her team continue to play an important role in preserving and celebrating the jazz heritage of Wales. Jazz Heritage Wales has established a unique and inclusive archive which recognises in particular the amazing contribution of women and black artists to Wales’s rich jazz history."

Professor Wilson is a jazz pianist and founder of Jazz Heritage Wales, based at UWTSD Swansea.

Further Information

Bronwen Swain, University of Wales Press

University Registry, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, Wales, CF10 3NS

Tel: 029 2037 6990