Black Music Month
Written by B87FM on January 26, 2020
Black Music Month
Rap, Hip-Hop, Funk, Soul, Jazz, Rhythm and Blues, and Gospel. It’s easy to identify certain facets of music with heavy African American influences. However, if you go back far enough, you might be surprised at many other genres that were partially inspired by African American musicians. African-American Music Appreciation Month is the month of the year that we celebrate African-American music in the United States.
Long before Paul Whiteman, a bandleader, orchestral director, violinist and composer dubbed himself “The King of Jazz” back in the 1920s, Joseph Oliver, aka King Oliver, was pioneering the sound of jazz and Dixieland down in Louisiana with the syrupy sound of his cornet.
In fact, it was King Oliver’s melodic compositions back in the early 1900s that influenced the iconic and brassy sound of Louis Armstrong, who is considered one of the greatest trumpet players of all time.
Even Elvis Presley, who has long been revered as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, was heavily influenced by the sound and swagger of Chuck Berry, a guitarist, singer and songwriter who forged a style of rhythm and blues back in the 1950s that ultimately led to the creation of rock music. Elvis’ own discography features a few songs originally composed and performed by Berry, including classics like “Maybellene” and “Memphis, Tennessee.”
In 1979, President Jimmy Carter declared the month of June to be Black Music Month. The month-long observance was created to recognize and celebrate the historical influence African-Americans have had on the music industry and is intended to pay homage to the many artists, writers, songs and albums that have shaped American pop culture and the inspiring musical moments that have brought citizens—white, black and every other skin color—together.
The idea was initially sparked following President Richard Nixon’s declaration of October as Country Music Month back in 1972. Although Black Music Month was effective in driving sales of music created by African-Americans—the month-long celebration was first launched with the slogan, “Black Music is Green”— the charge of artists (including Berry) and music mavens that petitioned Carter to proclaim the holiday celebrating black music brought forth an uplifting and unifying moment for people from all backgrounds.
Despite Carter’s proclamation, the month was celebrated informally until 2000 when the House of Representatives signed off on a presidential order to make it official. From that day on, Black Music Month has been acknowledged as a true American occasion.
In 2009, former President Barack Obama changed the name of Black Music Month to African-American Music Appreciation Month. Last year, President Trump released a proclamation for people to use the month of June to raise awareness and appreciation of African American music. Just about every genre of music has, in some way, been touched and influenced by African-Americans.
Although B87fm is Black Music 24/7 all year long, June is the month America officially celebrates the sounds and artists of Black Music Month with special programming across all formats, times, and programming.
From one-on-one interviews to full take-over mixes, stay tuned for times and dates of specials airing of our month-long celebration of African American Music and the many talented artists who made it the world’s great music.