African American soldiers continually enthralled the French with their music. Their reinterpretation of the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise”,  amazed the French civilians who had never heard their anthem brought to life in such a manner. Through music, the African American soldiers ushered in the French jazz culture and  bridged the language barriers. They played for many audiences throughout France and for their fellow soldiers, keeping the morale of troops and civilians high.

After the war, many expatriates remained in France, cultivating the French jazz culture and reveling in the freedom to experiment with their music. Jazz clubs sprung up around France in the 1920s as the French found ways to infuse the American influenced jazz music with some French flavor. Later, many American jazz musicians, black and white, moved to France to enhance their skills

By Suzanne Tetteh

Further Readings

Gourse, Leslie. "Jazz Liberates Paris." American Heritage 51, no. 2 (April 2000): 42.

Pelzer, John D. "Django, Jazz and the Nazis in Paris." History Today 51, no. 10 (October 2001): 33.