20's to 50's Bookmark and Share

Belgian folk music has survived the 20th century much more effectively than folk traditions in most other countries due to the efforts of ethnomusicologists early in the century. It was jazz however that gave Belgium the first push towards popular music. Since the 1940s, the Belgian gipsy Django Reinhardt became one of the first important jazz musicians to be born in Europe, and one of the most important jazz guitarists of all time. In 1949 Toots Thielemans joined a jam session in Paris with Sidney Bechet, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Max Roach and others. He moved to the US in 1952 where he was a member of Charlie Parker's All-Stars.

Bobbejaan Schoepen brought in the folk elements and dialect of Brussels and in doing so he can be considered as the first stepping on the path of pop. Not only was he the first Belgian singer to manage an international breakthrough, he was also the first to use modern equipment, a personal tourbus and a system of artist sponsoring. He was also a virtuoso whistler.

The singer La Esterella also had international succes with her Flemish songs. She is sometimes called the Belgian Zarah Leander duet to her dark and husky voice. The fifties was also the time when television came on the market. Popular tv presentator Tony Corsari scored a big hit in 1959 with the song 'Waarom zijn de bananen krom?' ('Why are the bananas curved?'). This goes to show how odd Belgian pop sometimes can be.

With the coming of Rock ´n roll Belgium tried their own version. As in the Netherlands they missed the punch and made it more variété then rock. Artists like Tony Dynamite or Benny Rock scored hits with Rock'n'Rollmops or Avignon Rock.





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