African American Appreciation Month is celebrated annually in June. It’s a month for all of us to celebrate the contribution of African Americans to art, culture, and society today. Specifically, we recognize the inspirational music composed, arranged, and performed by African American artists.
In 1979, President Jimmy Carter declared June as Black Music Month. In line with this, President Barack Obama continues the spirit of acknowledgment and proclaims the start of summer as African-American Music Appreciation Month. He openly mentioned that African American music represents “the creative spirit at the heart of American identity”
History of African American Appreciation Month
This holiday began in 1979 when then-President Jimmy Carter announced that henceforth, June was to be recognized as Black Music Month. He proclaimed this to cultivate appreciation and promote awareness about the uniqueness and various styles of the music contributed by African-American artists, be it jazz, gospel, blues, hip hop, rap, or rock and roll. Since then, every June has been observed by Americans across the world to celebrate the music that is listened to, loved, and appreciated by many different generations.
Many artists like Kenny Gamble, Dyana Williams, and Ed Wright made their own efforts to continue the tradition. They were supported by many other artists who wanted to share their talent with the rest of the music industry. The first noticeable music genre of African-American origin is the blues, rooted in African religious songs sung during slavery. When jazz came about in the 1920s, it bridged racial gaps as folks of different nationalities came together to enjoy this distinguished form of music. Soon after came different genres such as rock, swing, gospel, hip hop, funk, Motown, and even boogie-woogie. Many famous artists such as the Rolling Stones and The Beatles credit their music to the influence of the blues and jazz. African Americans continue to take the stage and showcase their talent through the performance of their soulful music. These include pop divas like Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys, Aretha Franklin, and Beyonce. These artists are renowned throughout the world.
African American Appreciation Month timeline
Jazz is played publicly and appreciated by non-African Americans.
President Jimmy Carter announces June as Black Music Month.
The U.S. House of Representatives passes Resolution 509, which officially names the month African American Music Appreciation Month.
President Barack Obama declares the start of summer a time to celebrate Black artists and musicians.
African American Appreciation Month FAQs
Who was the first Black musician?
George W. Johnson, a former slave, became the first African American to make records for the public.
What is African-American music called?
African-American music is loosely interchanged with Black music.
Who was the first Black activist?
Philip Randolph was a civil rights activist who found the first large-scale Black labor union.
How to Observe African American Appreciation Month
Give your favorite African-American artist a listen
Show your appreciation by streaming a song by an African American artist. It will serve as a reminder of their talent and iconic status.
Listen to other similar music
Music platforms recommend similar artists to the songs you stream. So, be open to listening to something new.
Visit a jazz bar
Look for a jazz bar near you. Appreciate the instrumentals and vocals during a live performance.
5 Interesting Facts About African-American Music
It started in a theater
The first musical theater was in Harlem, N.Y.C. — it was known to be the core of African-American music.
Jazz first began in New Orleans
Jazz was the gateway to the public expression of other African-American genres.
Stevie Wonder wins an award
Wonder became the first African-American artist to win the Grammy for ‘Album of the Year.’
Church music originated with African-Americans
Gospel music originated in the Black church, which began with the singing of “Bible” psalms and hymns.
Michael Jackson broke the cultural barrier
In 1983, Jackson’s songs ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Beat It’ became blockbuster successes on M.T.V., which had previously been dominated by white artists.
Why African American Appreciation Month is Important
It reinforces non-racialism
Slavery meant centuries of the unjust treatment of African Americans. This month is an opportunity to honor their struggle and celebrate their ethnicity and skills.
We celebrate creativity and talent
By hearing the different genres of music that African Americans have created, we get to appreciate their talent as artists. Whether it’s blues, rap, or jazz, we get to honor what they’ve contributed to society.
We embrace the culture
All people of different races and generations can be inspired to be more inclusive and embrace different cultures. By taking an interest in Black history, we break down social divides.
African American Appreciation Month dates