June is a month that represents a new season and Even though June is the celebration of Black music, it tends to get overshadowed by other commemorations.
The entire month of June celebrates the roots of the influence of Black American music in every single genre. Whether it’s Rock & Roll, Country, Indie, Jazz, and the Blues it was pioneered by the soul of black people. Many people have tried to erase the history of black artists and musicians who worked sweat and tears on their craft. While many musicians who benefit from appropriating the most popular genre of Black music, Hip Hop/ R&B, it is time for the pioneers to finally get their just do.
Even though this month is called Black Music Month, what is truly the right definition? As stated before, Black Music lives in every genre. It doesn’t help that today’s entertainment industry tries to box black people into one genre. Many labels and even high profile award shows try to dimish the role of black music in every genre. For example, the Grammy’s is an award show who loves to places black musicians in the “urban category.” The vague term was used for a former category named, “Best Urban Contemporary Album.” After years of people asking for the award to be renamed, it was finally changed to “Best Progressive R&B album.” The word urban may signify to people that it’s ghetto and not worthy of awards that white musicians receive. You would never hear an award in Pop or Country being called urban, but the term is mostly only placed on black artists.
The entire world knows that the King of Pop is Michael Jackson, but today you can barely find black musicians in this music genre. Furthermore, the prominence of black musicians in country is very remote. Even through there is a black artist in every genre, many of them are barely marketed main stream. When people think of main stream Pop artists, they would mostly think of Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Dua Lipa, and Taylor Swift.
Black American music rose to prominence in America during the 1920’s. The time period was represented by the Harlem Renaissance. Even though black music is global, Harlem is the community of Black history. Riding through Harlem now you may see a lot of gentrification, but that doesn’t mean that the history of black excellent is suppressed. The Great Migration is a key event in history which is the movement of African- Americans in the South going North. Many African Americans had enough of the Jim Crow laws in the south, and they took their own pieces of History to places like Harlem. While many African Americans moved to areas, like Harlem, white people fought to keep them out of the former community they called home. After failing to keep black people out of their community, their fled to other areas to create their own. The Harlem Renaissance not only represented music, but it also represented art, literature, dance, and other forms of creativity by black people.
Also known as the New Negro Movement, the Black Renaissance had key figures during it’s time. Marcus Garvey, Josephine Baker, Paul Robeson, Louis Armstrong, and Langston Hughes were pioneers apart of Black Renaissance. Without these innovators, music and history would be monotonous. Josephine Baker is considered one of the first Black superstars in America. Her vibrant energy and talent brought her to steal the show on Broadways in the 1920’s. She was an American born singer who symbolized Black-American history. She went also on to become a popular entertainer in Europe. I can’t forget to add that Baker was a civil right activist #queen.
One of the key award shows that highlights black entertainment is the BET Awards. The acronym standing for “Black Entertainment Television” is the only award show that highlights black talent besides the common urban category. When some black music artists were barely receiving recognition in the industry, the BET Awards was created to give artists the steppingstone they needed. Even though people may praise the Grammy’s more than the BET Award’s, the entertainment company is vital to upcoming and established black entertainers. Considered “Culture’s Biggest Night,” the BET Award’s pays homage to people creating the culture.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented at the BET Awards to honor veteran artists. This award has been given to only legendary artists/groups throughout the years. The winners of the Lifetime Achievement Awards includes Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, James Brown, Prince, Anita Baker, Chaka Khan, Queen Latifah, and more iconic winners.
“They asked me what are you bringing to this stage its a completely different stage. You come from an R&B world this is a Country stage. Well actually R&B and Soul music is the foundation of Country music. There would not be other genres if it was not for black music. If they say R&B is dead, it is in every genre”- H.E.R.
Black artists influence the culture, and that is a fact. No matter how much people try to erase black history in music, it will never be gone. Black music is the powerhouse of every single genre. Songwriters, entertainers, producers, and DJ’s play an important role in Black Music Month. Their undeniable talent throughout the years has proven to be the backbone of the music/entertainment industry.
Black music will never be dead, and that is the importance of Black Music Month. It celebrates the artistry of black people throughout the years. This month should be celebrated year-round not just on a month basis. It is time to celebrate the pioneers of the culture with the love and admiration.