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From call-and-response spirituals and work songs in the 1600s to the mesmerizing sounds of saxophones, trumpets and snares during the modern era of jazz, the distinct and impressive impact of African American music on the global landscape is an intricate fold in the American fabric. The impression this matchless triumph has left is a story waiting to be told.
Consisting of several genres and styles, African American musical tradition is representative of both oral and written forms of expression. Each musical genre, which is associated with a specific historical period, social context, and function, mirrors over five centuries of cultural evolution and social change. As such, the story of African American music is an important resource for the study of African American history and culture.
Song lyrics, for example, show the resiliency of African Americans as a marginalized group in society; song interpretations identify aesthetic ideals of an African heritage that establish African American music as part of an African cultural continuum; and the works of African American composers to examine how musicians trained in European traditions reconcile their dual musical and national identities.
In essence, African American music provides a window into the world views and experiences of a people who have used music to express their innermost feelings, preserve their cultural identity, and record their history.
The National Museum of African American Music will tell the music story of their triumphant genius.
Black Music Month began in 1979 when Kenny Gamble, Ed Wright, and Dyana Williams developed the idea to set aside a month dedicated to celebrating the impact of black music. Created by music business insiders, the group successfully lobbied President Jimmy Carter to host a reception on June 7th, 1979 to formally recognize the cultural and financial contributions of black music. Since 1979, Black Music Month has grown from a commemoration to national proportions with extravaganza across the country.
In 2000, US-Representative Chaka Fattah sponsored House Resolution 509, which formally recognized the importance of Black music on culture and the economy during President Bill Clinton’s administration.
In 2009, President Barack Obama further defined June as African American Music Appreciation Month who declared the start of summer as a celebration for all the black "musicians, composers, singers, and songwriters [who] have made enormous contributions to our culture."
“The music of our Nation has always spoken to the condition of our people and reflected the diversity of our Union. African-American musicians, composers, singers, and songwriters have made enormous contributions to our culture by capturing the hardships and aspirations of a community and reminding us of our shared values.”
In 2011 President Obama welcomed rapperCommon to the White House as part of the kickoff to his announcement of African American Music Appreciation Month (formerly Black Music Month).(AP/Charles Dharapak)
To learn more about African American Music Appreciation Month / Black Music Month, click on any of the following links:
Visit Philliy / Philly 360 Interview of Dyana Williams – Mother of BMMDyana Williams, long-time radio personality, music industry insider, and current host of Soulful Sundays on WNRB (107.9 | Philadelphia) discusses the founding of Black Music Month.
USPS African-American Music Appreciation Month Stamps
The Original King of Black Music – Mister Robey
AFRICAN-AMERICAN MUSIC APPRECIATION MONTH, 2012- - - - - - -BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICAA PROCLAMATION
As a long-cherished piece of American culture, music offers a vibrant soundtrack to the story of our people and our Union. At times when words alone could not bring us together, we have found in melodies and choruses the universal truths of our shared humanity. African-American musicians have left an indelible mark on this tradition, and during African-American Music Appreciation Month, we pay special tribute to their extraordinary contributions.
Generations of African Americans have used music to share joy and pain, triumph and sorrow. Spiritual hymns gave hope to those laboring under the unrelenting cruelty of slavery, while gospel-inspired freedom songs sustained a movement for justice and equality for all. The smooth sounds of jazz and the soulful strain of the blues fed a renaissance in art and prose. The rhythm and blues that began in a basement in Detroit brought people together when laws would have kept them apart, while the urban beats and young wordsmiths from cities coast-to-coast gave voice to a new generation. And on stages and in concert halls around the world, African-American singers and composers have enhanced opera, symphony, and classical music by bringing energy and creativity to traditional genres.
At its core, African-American music mirrors the narrative of its original creators -- born of humble beginnings and raised to refuse the limitations and circumstances of its birth. This month, we honor the African-American musicians, composers, singers, and songwriters who have forever shaped our musical heritage, and celebrate those who carry this rich legacy forward.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2012 as African-American Music Appreciation Month. I call upon public officials, educators, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate activities and programs that raise awareness and foster appreciation of music that is composed, arranged, or performed by African Americans.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.
2012 Proclamation: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/06/01/presidential-proclamation-african-american-music-appreciation-month-2012 2011 Proclamation: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/05/31/presidential-proclamation-african-american-music-appreciation-month
National Museum of African American Music
Administrative Offices1506 Church Street, Suite 230 Nashville, TN 37203 Office: (615) 301-8724 Email:
The National Museum of African American Music will stand as an international iconic cultural museum dedicated to the vast contributions African Americans have made in music.