Hi everyone! Black Music Month (renamed African-American Music Appreciation Month) has been celebrated in the U.S. since 1979. Tracy from A Joyful Process wrote a post on how and why this month-long celebration originated. Tracy writes about music, current events, sports and his life over in his blog. You can take a look/follow his blog here.
Black Music Month was created in 1979. Kenny Gamble, the co-head of Philadelphia International Records, along with Ed Wright and radio DJ Dyana Williams came up with the idea to set aside a month to celebrate the contributions black music has made to society and culture. The trio, along with other music insiders lobbied President Jimmy Carter to host a reception to commemorate the impact of black music. That reception was held on June 7, 1979. At that time, President Carter decreed that June would be known as Black Music Month. Each President that has followed has kept up the commemoration for the month of June. President Barack Obama changed the title to African-American Music Appreciation Month.
The term “black music” covers a wide range of genres and styles. Blues, jazz, ragtime, swing music, soul, rhythm & blues, even rock and roll and country have all been impacted by black musicians. Continuing through funk, hip-hop, disco and dance music, black music has laid the foundation for many genres. Names such as Scott Joplin, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Robert Johnson, Jelly Roll Morton and Fats Waller were founding fathers and mothers of blues and jazz music. James Brown, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and many others paved the way with r&b classics that are still revered many years later. Thomas A. Dorsey took influences from the blues he was playing and wrote “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” which began the rise of gospel music. The Rolling Stones, the Beatles and many bands and groups in the United Kingdom were inspired by their blues and R&B favorites to create their own music and legacies. From those main genres, subgenres like dance music, disco, and hip-hop were created by musicians of all races. The music spread worldwide. The building blocks were based on the music that was created years before.
I have always wanted to write a post or a series of posts about African-American Music Appreciation Month. I have never completed one until I wrote this one. I hope it gives you a sense of the history and contributions of some of black music’s pioneers and their music’s place in history. Thanks to Lisa A. for allowing me to share this with all of you.