Black Music is American Music!
Just about every genre of music has, in some way, been touched and influenced by African-Americans. That’s why on June 7, 1979, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the month of June as Black Music Month. First inducted 39 years ago today, it 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.
It was brought to life by Music-industry icon and radio personality Dyana Williams, along with her ex-husband, Kenny Gamble.
In an interview between The Root and Dyana Williams, she is quoted:
“Gamble is the father of Black Music Month, and when we were a couple, we conceived the idea. Gamble established the Black Music Association, and one time he made a trip to Nashville[, Tenn.,] and observed the Country Music Association and how they had created an entire industry and city and made it known for being the capital of country music. Gamble was inspired by that idea. He was inspired by the unity of country artists and wanted to replicate that in the black community…
Gamble reached out to Clarence Avant, the godfather of black music, who has always had strong relationships with the major players. And through the efforts of Clarence Avant, through Jules Malamud, who was part of the BMA, they petitioned Jimmy Carter to host this reception.
Nothing like that had ever happened at the White House. Chuck Berry, Frankie Crocker, all of the who’s who in the music industry were there. It was a great day.”
Dyanna later got a bill to the Senate floor in 2000 with the help of Congressman Chaka Fattah to make June officially nationally recognized as Black Music Month. Signed by President Clinton, It is now known as the African American Music Bill.
As we celebrate this June, Let’s acknowledge the foundation of artists that have shaped the sounds of our nation, as well as the current music makers and future generations who will continue to advance Black music.
“All genres including Gospel, the Blues, Rock, Jazz, Rhythm and Blues, Hip-Hop, EDM, Pop and any hybrid forms of these genres are significantly American. Black music is American music! We should never forget that fact.” — Dyanna Williams