Should Norfolk jazz band ditch ‘Dixie’ from its name?
PUBLISHED: 13:02 29 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:08 29 June 2020
A popular Norfolk jazz band is considering a name change amid concerns over its links to America’s southern former slave states.
The DixieMix Band said Black Lives Matter and the subsequent movement to rethink names linked to slavery had made them think about dropping ‘Dixie’ from their name.
The band, which toured with Rod Stewart in 2014, said the decision taken by American country band the Dixie Chicks to rename themselves the Chicks had prompted them to consult fans, other musicians and experts to see what they should do.
Simon Nelson, the band’s trumpet player, said they chose the name based on the style of music they played, Dixieland - a style of jazz developed in the early 20th century that could be distinguished by its use of collective improvisations.
Among the links to the word Dixie is its use as a nickname for the southern states that made up the Confederate States of America during the US Civil War era.
It may also have links to Louisiana, where the music started, where French settlers were given a $10 bill to live there - with dix meaning 10 as in French, it led to the word Dixie.
The musician said they were worried about the implications of changing their name after 15 years.
Mr Nelson, from Reepham, said: “We haven’t made a decision: it is provoking a lot of thought.
“I sat down for the whole weekend researching the music that we know so well, going back right to the origin of the name. That is not clear after all these years of research. I spent all weekend talking to people about it and it did not seem any clearer.
“We have spent 15 years touring round the country in a minibus to get people to know us. To change the name would be to start it again and it’s a really difficult process.”
He added: “In our shows, we talk about the history rather than play tune after tune. We want to have a little bit of history and explain why these pieces are important.
“Jazz music was pioneering in breaking down segregation barriers with white and black musician both sharing stages and insisting on equal opportunities for members of bands and orchestra long before equality was commonplace.”
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