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Nina Boggan

Popular Musicians in the 1940’s

Musical celebrities served as role models as well as representations of the ideal
American citizen during World War II. Just as it does today, music has a large impact on the
daily lives of most Americans. It has the ability to change pop culture and society as a whole, as
well as give inspiration to any nation going through hard times.
Music for the public was developing from live shows to radio and recordings. People
were used to every song on the radio being happy and positive, but as the country's economic
system began to decline during the Great Depression, the songs started to reflect the feelings of
those who listened to them. The concept of relatable music became more popular as World War
II raged on. People wrote of those they were missing, or how they attempted to maintain their
happiness during a difficult situation.
Frank Sinatra was a popular male singer who began his career during the war. He was
denied draft in the war because of a perforated eardrum. According to a biography written by his
wife, Nancy Sinatra, this made him decide to start making music, unaware of the success he
would have. Although he was a prominent figure in the 1940’s, his career didn’t take off until the
early 50’s. Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” was arguably the most popular song of the World
War II era. He was known for his deep baritone voice and the ballades that he sung. His
Christmas album, “Merry Christmas” sold over 15 million copies. The 40’s were also a time for
black musicians to gain recognition. Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday. Swing,
a popular form of music and dance in the black community, increased in popularity starting in
the mid 1930’s.

As many artists were drafted in the war, new ones emerged from obscurity. They used
the war to connect with the citizens of the of a country at war. They used the emotions of
longing for peace, and when the war finally ended, joy, to reflect their fans’ feelings. The musical
celebrity’s role as an influence on the culture of the home front was a huge part of Wolrd War II.