Music is powerful. It isn’t called the Universal Language for no reason. And ever since our ancestors were beating drums in Africa, blacks have been musical innovators. For centuries, blacks have been at the forefront or creating new sounds that not only permeate culture, but dictate it.
From Negro Spirituals to hip hop, black music has been the soundtrack of various movements for freedom throughout the ages. Whether you’re a connoisseur of jazz, blues, doo-wop, gospel, disco, rhythm and blues (R&B), soul, funk, neo-soul, rock and roll, hip hop, house, dance hall, reggae, konpa, pop or any other genre, you must know that blacks have been integral to creating, shaping and refining these sounds, which have shaped society as a whole.
When slaves needed to deliver messages to guide each other to freedom, they sang slave songs. When Civil Rights leaders needed an encouraging reminder to keep fighting the good fight, they sang “We Shall Overcome.”
When young blacks in New York became disenfranchised with the status quo in inner cities, they created hip hop.
Black music is more than a sound; it is an influential force that permeates and infiltrates every aspect of culture. From economics, politics and education to fashion, philanthropy and social justice, black music and the artists who create it, have often spurred the actions of generations.
Before Elvis there was Ike Turner; before Justin Timberlake there was Michael Jackson (MJ); before Robin Thicke, there was Marvin Gaye and there probably wouldn’t have been an Eminem without Dr. Dre.
While imitation is the best form of flattery, we must never forget to give credit where credit is due – and the truth is, people from other cultures have long taken innovations blacks created, often times out of pure necessity, and bottled them up for a cool million – or should I say iced billions.
Yes there is such a thing as a ‘black sound,’ but not everyone will tell you that the black sound has literally influenced every other sound of music.
And those sounds of music have transformed society.
So this month as we celebrate Black Music Month, let’s not forget how deep its roots run or how many of its creators died poor, broken men and women who’d been exploited and never given credit for their God-given talents.
While we celebrate the Billie Holidays, Mahalia Jacksons, Chuck Berrys, Diana Rosses, Bob Marleys, Kendrick Lamars and Beyonces of the world, let’s remember that for each of them, there are tons of nameless, faceless talents who shaped not only “The Black Sound,” but the world’s sound. And they never got an ounce of compensation or credit for it.
Yes black music is more than a sound. It is an arbiter of inspiration, strength, resilience and transformation that tells the story of its indomitable people.
Black music has often been responsible for motivating the masses to make the world a better place.
Black music is strong. Black music is love. Black music is joy. Black music is hope.
Black music deserves for EVERYONE to put some respect on its name.