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Blues Music History Statistics

By the Numbers

Number of black registered voters in Louisiana in 1894: 130,000

Number of black registered voters in Louisiana in 1904: 1,3421

Estimated ratio of blues songs recorded since 1920 that deal with sexual relationships: about 3 out of 42

Estimated number of copies that Robert Johnson's best-selling record sold in his lifetime: 4,000

Estimated number of copies that Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings sold in the first six months of release in 1990: 400,0003

Cost in 1920 dollars of a recording of Mamie Smith's "Crazy Blues," the first record by a black blues singer and the first big blues hit: $14

Estimated rate of lynchings in the South between 1883 and 1905: about one per week5

Percentage of national black population living in the South on the eve of World War I: about 90%

Estimated number of blacks that left the South between 1910 and 1920: about half a million6

Estimated rate of blues record releases in 1921-1922: about one per week7

Estimated rate of blues record releases in 1927: about ten per week8

Total record industry sales in 1927: over $100 million

Estimated percent of 1927 sales consisting of "race" records: about 5%9

Estimated number of blacks that left the South for the North between 1950 and 1970: about three million10

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