Young, Gifted, and Brown: The History of San Antonio's West Side Sound
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This dissertation investigates the early influences, inception, and evolution of the diverse musical genres of the West Side Sound—a popular, yet understudied music culture from San Antonio, Texas—from the interwar period to the close of the twentieth century. I argue that Latinos and Latinas in San Antonio were pioneers, not late-coming contributors, in the creation of postwar American popular music. This study focuses on the untold history of San Antonio’s numerous multiracial doo-wop, R&B, soul, and early rock-and-roll groups of the mid-twentieth century and the distinct urban dynamics that facilitated the sound’s growth. By revealing sonic affinities and cultural kinships across African-American and Mexican-American communities, “Young, Gifted, and Brown” provides new understandings of interethnic connections along the U.S.-Mexico borderlands that deviate from conflict-centered narratives of Black-Brown relations. Moreover, by historicizing the West Side Sound through newspapers, album art and liner notes, and multiple archival collections, this study demonstrates how music can serve as an analytical lens to understand the mechanisms of racialization as well as tensions and collaborations within communities of color.