At the end of the day, there is nothing that makes a black gathering come together better than black music. Second to food, black music provides “magic” that makes every setting special, whether it is R&B, soul, blues, jazz, gospel or hip hop.
June is the official time to observe Black Music Month, and like Black History Month, an ideal time to learn and teach others about African American culture. Although popularized by nearly every race and culture, the history of black music in America was born from pain.
Gospel and blues are expressions of injustice and oppression, whether it is the result of racism, poverty or personal disappointment. At the same time gospel inspires us to have faith in the future. Either way, this music has transcended culture and race and become the backdrop of many movie soundtracks. Honest lyrics, sung with pure passion, which stirs our souls in a powerful way.
Black Music Month is a perfect opportunity to teach young people about the legends who paved the way for some of the young hip hop artists of today—singers like Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and musicians like Dizzy Gillespie who couldn’t stay at certain hotels because of their skin color. There is a reason why their music sounded so mesmerizing—it spoke to the struggles of being black, but also inspired folks to keep their heads up.
This month young people can show their parents and grandparents why they like Kendrick and J. Cole so much. Why not teach them a few new dance steps while you’re at it?
Juneteenth (June 19th) is the official day of observance for African American culture. It is the day black folks in Galveston, Texas realized (2 years later) that slavery in America had been abolished. The news prompted spontaneous celebrations, and music was no doubt at the center of it all.
The legacy of black music will always be around because it is so widely embraced and copied by everyone. Since summer is concert season, it is the best time to get your fill of everything black music has to offer. The Gardena Jazz Festival is returning in August at Rowley Memorial Park, 13220 S. Van Ness Ave., Gardena. The one-day engagement features live musical performances by jazz artists in a range of sub-genres like smooth, vocal, bebop, cool, Dixieland and various other forms. Google “Gardena Jazz Festival” for updates. Also, check out the Forum, Staples, and other venues for black and black-inspired music.
While we don’t need a designated month to observe black music, it’s nice to know something we hold so dear is so widely appreciated. Happy Black Music Month!