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Kaiya's Korner: Black Music Month

Have you ever wondered where the origins of the music you listen to are rooted? Who the music giants of today study and look up to for inspiration? Or where that sample in your favorite hip-hop record came from? The answers can be found in Black culture.

Music history is Black history. To recognize this, on June 7th, 1979, former President Jimmy Carter declared the month of June Black Music Month. This was later regarded as African American Music Appreciation Month by former President Barack Obama. The month of June is especially used to celebrate and to amplify the contributions of Black musicians throughout history.

Black music has helped our country "to dance, to express our faith through song, to march against injustice, and to defend our country's enduring promise of freedom and opportunity for all.” (Obama, 2016 proclamation)

Where did it all start?

Music has always been used as a form of communication, expression, prayer, and documentation. In the times of slavery, musical and biblical texts gave voice to the shared experience of people in search of freedom. This need for an artistic outlet to triumph through trauma rests at the heart of Black music.

The Birth of genres

The video above provides a timeline of Black artists throughout history who have distinguished American music. From the first major ragtime hit published in 1899 by Scott Joplin to the Godmother of Rock N’ Roll Sister Rosetta Tharpe paving the way for the genre in 1938. The Black voice has found its way into all the origins of the genres we love and listen to today.

Why does it matter?

Black people have been perpetually alienated and excluded from their own history and, inevitably, their identity. The songs we spin from our digital crates, whether performed by a Black artist or not, originate from rich cultural experiences. Sharing music with an informed perspective helps us to fulfill the responsibility of amplifying the voices of those historically silenced. This music belongs to everyone but should be credited to the originators who planted a piece of their soul in the music.

How can we celebrate through and beyond June?

If you’re wondering how you can continue to celebrate the contributions of Black musicians, the answer is simple: SUPPORT BLACK ARTISTS. Stream their music, share their posts, add them to your playlists! These are valuable ways to support small Black artists without spending anything other than your time. You may not realize it–but those 10 minutes you invest into someone’s profile have the potential to impact their entire career. If you have the means, donate and/or purchase merchandise from your favorite Black artists!

If you've read all of this but don’t know where to begin–start here! Girls Make Beats is always accepting donations for scholarships to induct more girls into the program–many of whom are Black or Latinx. Sign up for our newsletter to support and keep up with our program. You can even click here to sport your own GMB merch!

If you know a young girl who would be interested in participating in our program, registration is now open for the 2021 Girls Make Beats Virtual Summer Program.

Thank you for visiting Kaiya's Korner. Happy Black Music Month!

Peace & Blessings,

Kaiya Nyashsa

(Instagram/TikTok - @KaiyaNyasha)

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