Date of Submission

Spring 2020

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

Whitney Slaten

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Dawn Tyler Watson, a blues singer based in Montreal, QC, performs a variety of genres. No matter what she performs, however, she continually expresses a blues ethos. Through improvisation and her resolute individuality Dawn writes and sings narratives always with a nod to the blues. What I call the “ethos of the blues” refers to a blues spirit that exists not only in music, but in literature, and in everyday life. Dawn’s practice reveals that blues is a music that values protective, generous, and exploratory narrative. As important as its storytelling quality is the genre’s Americanness. Blues, derived from a multitude of musical and cultural contexts– musics from and of the African diaspora come to bear on American life, American influence– lays at the foundation of American popular music. Blues as ethos aligns with the existentialism of American identity. Blues even acts as philosophy. I argue that Dawn– Canadian as she may be– registers the philosophical core of blues music in her performances and in her original compositions. This philosophical lens and literary quality of the blues makes Dawn not only a musician and vocalist but also a writer, an existentialist.

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