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Anything related to music tingles our dancing senses at National Today, especially during Black Music Month in June when we remember the different stories attached to black music. From tales of slavery and racism to fighting for their basic human rights to finding their heritage and religion in their values and lyrics, black music covers a vast range of topics that have great significance for this community. Over the years, we have seen black musicians reach great heights, not only on official music record charts but also at entertainment award ceremonies. While President Jimmy Carter designated June as Black Music Month in 1979, it wasn’t until 2000 when the presidential proclamation for the month was signed. President Barack Obama, in 2009, also went on to rename the month from African-American Music Appreciation Month to its current name.
History of Black Music Month - June
First coming into existence in 1979, Black Music Month was meant to honor and celebrate black artists’ contributions on U.S. soil. President Jimmy Carter wanted people to recognize how much of an impact black music was having, not only at home but also abroad, as people all over were adopting elements from black music to express their creative sides. Moreover, the ’70s was fast becoming the decade in which black music was gaining traction in signing music labels, with many business heads recognizing its commercial value.
However, while President Carter had assigned June as the month of black music, he had not signed any special presidential proclamations that would have made it official. Dyana Williams, a renowned journalist and community activist, attempted to submit a petition to hold a Black Music Month event at the White House in 1998 during President Bill Clinton’s term. But she was soon informed that an event wouldn’t be possible due to the absence of a presidential proclamation. Yet, all was not lost, as Williams lobbied for legislation with the help of Congressman Chaka Fattah. Thanks to their joint effort, two years later, June was officially declared as Black Music Month.
President Barack Obama also went on to highlight the importance of Black Music Month and the various genres black music holds. Starting with sacred music, this genre was one of the earliest black music forms in the U.S., and it highlighted gospel tales and black Christian values. Blues and R&B relayed ideas of the homeland and racial integration, respectively. Genres like Hip-Hop, Rap, and Rock and Roll quickly became popular overseas as they appealed to youngsters all over the world.
Black Music Month - June timeline
Blues is born from the racial oppression and the struggles black people faced.
The Apollo Theater opens in the Harlem neighborhood of NYC, instantly becoming a cultural and musical hub for black people.
Maria Anderson becomes the first black singer to perform at the New York Metropolitan Opera.
Childish Gambino’s ‘This is America’, lauded for the way it represents American realities, becomes the first rap song to win Song/Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards.
Black Music Month - June FAQs
What is the history of black music?
According to a blog on Oakland Public Library’s website: “The music of African Americans can be traced back to the days of slavery. One musical genre that has roots back to the days of slavery is gospel music. As slaves became Christians, a religion forced upon them, they began singing hymns later termed spirituals. These spirituals later evolved into gospel music.”
What are some records held by black artists?
Like Beyoncé and Gambino, there are many black musicians who have held records over the years. Michael Jackson and Prince are two of the most prominent black singers with the former’s ‘Thriller’ sold 66 million copies worldwide while the latter’s ‘Purple Rain’ sold more than 25 million copies.
What is considered black music?
Wikipedia defines black music as “music created, produced, or inspired by black people, people of African descent, including African music traditions and African popular music as well as the music genres of the African diaspora, including Afro-Caribbean music, Afro-Latino music, Afro-Brazilian music and African American music.”
How To Celebrate Black Music Month
Listen to some good black music
One of the best ways to spend the month is by listening to and enjoying the music. Explore new genres and singers, but also enjoy your old favorites. Give your love to all.
Enjoy with your loved ones
Party it up with your friends and family. Hold virtual trivia nights and/or music nights to get your fill of black music and all that it has to offer.
Read up on black music history
To truly appreciate the different layers of black music, get into the mix by reading up on the history related to it. You will not only come to know all about the different moments and people that helped shape a genre but it will also help you appreciate the music you have access to today.
5 Facts About Beyoncé That Will Blow Your Mind
She can ‘see’ music
Beyoncé not only hears music but apparently she can also ‘see’ visual representations of music by imagining memories from her childhood or events happening in her real life.
She wrote a song in two hours
Beyoncé wrote ‘Crazy in Love’ in just two hours while hungover.
First female artist to set a record
Beyoncé is the first female artist to set a record by having her first six albums consistently debut at number one.
Beyoncé is opera material
The singer’s vocal range is about 3.6 octaves, which instantly categorizes her as a mezzo-soprano.
Beyoncé’s fastest-selling album
Her namesake album became the fastest-selling album on iTunes.
Why We Love Black Music Month
It’s a celebration of history
There’s much history attached to many of the genres in the black music industry. You will find tales of religious ecstasy as well as rebellious youth, racial oppression, love for home, and general human life events. There’s something for everyone here.
It’s a celebration of diversity
There’s unity in diversity. Being inclusive not only opens our hearts to one another but also broadens our horizons for new things to be explored.
It’s a celebration of music
Music, just like food, is universally loved and needed. Without music, lives become rather boring but with its addition into our lives, everything can start making sense. Music binds us together.
Black Music Month - June dates