Most people would agree that February is considered the default celebratory month for African-Americans due to the observance of Black History Month. June, however, also deserves an honorable mention as a month that is significant to the Black community.
In addition to Juneteenth, which is a celebration on June 19ththat commemorates the official end of slavery in the United States, Black Music Month also takes place in June. 2019 marks the 40thanniversary of the month-long observance, which was established June 7, 1979 by former President Jimmy Carter. Considering the profound influence Black music has had on the American music industry, a month dedicated to Black music and culture is highly crucial.
Prior to President Carter’s declaration, Black Music Month was conceived by the Black Music Association (BMA) in 1978 with intentions of celebrating Black culture while also bringing awareness to the value of Black business. Contrary to what some may believe, Black music created the foundation for nearly every genre of today’s American music scene. Black influences can be found in jazz, rock & roll, country and pop music, even though many Black artists have become victims of appropriation and/or lack of attribution by their white artist counterparts.
Co-founders Kenny Gamble and Dyana Williams devised a plan to shed light on the cultural and economic influences of Black Americans. The slogan, “Black Music is Green” promoted the power and relevance of the Black dollar that remains pertinent today. In the 1990s, Williams worked with members of Congress to draft the African-American Music Bill, which was signed by former President Bill Clinton. In 2009, former President Barack Obama renamed the commemoration African-American Music Appreciation Month, and it continues to be celebrated around the country.
As today’s music industry continues to rapidly change, Black Music Month is imperative in maintaining the commemoration of the achievements of Black artists for several generations. Black record labels and executives are not as common today as the past few decades, and rising commercialism has made music more disposable. Still, the contributions of Black artists and cultural icons makes celebrating Black Music Month necessary for sustaining their legacies.
This month (and every month) celebrate Black music month by supporting your favorite artists and reflecting on how music has impacted you. Whether it’s waking up on Saturday mornings to clean the house to Stevie Wonder’s voice or driving down the freeway to your favorite Jay-Z song on a summer night, everyone has a story about the power of music in evoking nostalgia and promoting unity. Appreciate your favorite gems, but don’t be afraid to explore new sounds too.
Much love to Black music for not only permeating, but also defining the culture.