How you can celebrate Black History Month through music
It's officially Black History Month, bb!
The month where we can celebrate the countless accomplishments, innovations and precedents set by the Black community throughout all pockets of history. Black History Month honors the central role African Americans have played in society—from the groundbreaking contributions of brilliant mathematicians like Katherine Johnson to the courageous actions of activists like Dorothy Height. There are so many ways to celebrate BHM, but recently we've been getting into commemorating African American pioneers through everyone's favorite type of media: music!
American music is rooted in African American artists and innovators of the past. Bruno Mars has spoken about lengths about 'black music': "When you say 'black music,' understand that you are talking about rock, jazz, R&B, reggae, funk, doo-wop, hip-hop and Motown. Black people created it all. Being Puerto Rican, even salsa music stems back to the Motherland [Africa]. So, in my world, black music means everything. It’s what gives America its swag." And it's *so* true! The infamous rock legend, Jimi Hendrix, turned the world upside down with his incredible guitar talents—taking electric guitar music to new heights. Hendrix is dubbed the God of Guitar, and you can thank him next time you and your besties jam out to an epic guitar solo.
Ways to celebrate
Support African American artists! We love UMI, Raveena, Orion Sun, Ravyn Lenae and Q! We all are obsessed with Doja Cat, The Weeknd and WILLOW, but try branching out and discovering smaller black artists this month. Research into smaller artists on TikTok and IG, or check out smaller African American artists covering your favorite songs on YouTube. And remember to share the love with the whole friend group. Make a collaborative playlist of everyone's favorite African American artists. You can also host a viewing party and binge documentaries about iconic African American music pioneers like Black Is King on Disney+ or Homecoming on Netflix.
You can spend your time researching and educating yourself on the roots of American music. And as you trace the strings of times back throughout history, you'll come to see what a large impact African American musicians have made on the scene, dating back to the 17th century! Take the Father of R&B, Louis Jordan—the music genius behind everyone's holiday classic, "Baby, It's Cold Outside." Looking back even further into history, you'll find that Jordan was influenced by the popular performer and pianist Fats Waller (who played incredible jazz music in the '20s). Music is forever changing throughout history, and the fact that African American's were at the forefront of these innovations time and time again is something we should all acknowledge and celebrate this Black History Month.
Another fun way to stay educated (besides your own digging)? Checking out YouTube videos and podcasts. Here are a few we recommend about African American Music: For the Culture: History of Black Music by Urban One, Making Beyoncé: Girls Thyme by Making and The United States vs. Billie Holiday by Throughline. Short on time? Check out Black History in Two Minutes (or so)—they have awesome, accurate retellings of black history as well as an episode on the Birth of Hip Hop.
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We hope you feel inspired to celebrate Black History Month through music with us this February. Follow us on Instagram to see us highlight African American artists @girlslifemag!