HR & All That Jazz…

Evolution of Jazz and the Workforce – Facilitating Change & Opening Doors…

Jazz developed after the First World War, the Golden Age of which was the 1920’s. The art form grew from the working-class, but was soon embraced by the middle class as well. Cities became hotbeds for the music, and helped define a rebellious shift against the traditional culture of previous generations. “The surfacing of flapper women also began to captivate society during the Jazz Age, a time in which many more opportunities became available for women. At the end of the First World War, many more possibilities existed for women in the work force, in their social lives and especially in the entertainment industry.” (The Jazz Age)

And while the Labor Movement began much earlier, a great deal of ‘modern’ progress can be charted in the 1920’s as well – influenced, in part, by the Jazz Age and its newfound outlook. As the Great War wound down, and soldiers returned home to the workforce, trade unions became increasingly stronger – especially in the mining and railroad industries – where labor laws had changed little since the 1600’s.

In the 1920’s, through societal pressure, politicians began to take greater note of the inadequacies of antiquated labor laws such as overly-long work hours, child labor issues, inadequate pay and worker health and safety issues – and strategies for political action began to take shape. The Great Depression however, was the major catalyst for change wherein the discontent of industrial workers, combined with New Deal legislation, led to the formation of strong workers unions such as the United Mine Workers and the Congress for Industrial Organization (CIO). By the end of the Second World War, over 12 million workers belonged to unions, and collective bargaining became the rule of the day in the workforce.

Throughout the decades, Jazz has paralleled the mood and culture of society, where the messages of the pioneers of this music form ‘spoke’ to new generations of audiences – encouraging expansion beyond traditional roles. Woman and minorities discovered new career outlets – both in and out of the art form. This revolution helped usher in a change in viewpoints as to who could do what in the workforce.

Today, in our high-technology digital age, both career paths and music increasingly are influenced by an ever-growing number of factors. As vast seas of information are available online in an instant; our culture adjusts and adapts at an incredible rate – incorporating new themes, ideas and creative input into tried and true methods – constantly creating new spins on existing approaches. Workers and musicians today benefit from the ability to integrate modern technology and myriad influences into their lives – leading to more avenues for creativity and satisfaction.