How did African- American music and dance change because of the Harlem Renaissance?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one distinct way in which African- American music changed during the Harlem Renaissance was in its larger acceptance by White audiences.  The notion of "the Jazz Age" was one that was fed by the wider acceptance of African- American music.  Jazz and the jazz club enabled African- American artists to have their art appreciated by a larger audience.  They were still unable to gain political acceptance and were still denied social equality.  Yet, the fact that their music was being appreciated by a larger audience helped to give them greater opportunity than before.  African- American musicians like Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington were able to carve out a path to autonomy and a sense of freedom.  This was notably absent prior to the Harlem Renaissance. Josephine Baker and Billie Holiday were presented with opportunities that were not present prior to the Harlem Renaissance.  It is here in which musicians of the Harlem Renaissance experienced the greatest amount of change.  Their own sense freedom and a wider sense of opportunity is where the greatest change can be found for African- American musicians and dancers of the Harlem Renaissance.