Rejoice! It’s Black Music Month!

Rejoice! It’s Black Music Month! June 24, 2024

During Black Music Month, many musicians will be performing on stage like this female vocalist.

                                During Black Music Month, many musicians will be performing on stage like this female vocalist. Kobe Subramaniam                                                        took this photo on August 14, 2017. This photo was downloaded from on June 21, 2024.

Black Music Month History

Initial Inspiration and Support

Did you know June 2024 marks the 45th Anniversary of Black Music Month (BMM)? (The official  name is African American Music Appreciation Month but  I will use BMM since it’s shorter.)

As an African American who loves various kinds of music synonymous with black culture, I can’t help but celebrate! Let’s begin this celebration by highlighting the history of this theme. 

Black Music Month exists because of the efforts of Kenny Gamble. Kenny Gamble is a phenomenal Philadelphia Soul producer who moved to Nashville in the 1970s.  

While there, he noticed the impact of Country Music Month, which occurs every October. This inspired Gamble to establish the Black Music Association in 1978. 

Thanks to the support of Dyana Williams and DJ  Ed Wright, BMM became an official movement in less than one year. On June 7, 1979, President Jimmy Carter hosted the first Black Music Month celebration on the White House lawn.

Presidential Recognition 

On June 6, 2000, President Bill Clinton and  the House of Representatives accepted legislation

  1. Acknowledging the contributions of African American music to the global culture and its positive impact on global commerce.
  2. Urging citizens to study, think about, and honor the importance of African American music.

In 2009, President Barack Obama changed BMM to African American Music Appreciation Month. In 2023, Vice President Kamala Harris hosted the first hip-hop party on the White House lawn. 

During the Pandemic, President Biden secured $100 million in financial support to concert halls, theaters, and other venues afloat. 

He also requested a $400 million budget for the National Endowment for the  Arts and Humanities. These funds also help art programs in less fortunate communities.   

The Music Within the Movement

Interesting Facts & Genre Types

Along with impressive presidential recognition, there are several interesting facts you could know about the history of black music.

  1. In 1920, Mamie created the first Blues song by a black artist.
  2. In 1958, Ella Fitzgerald became the first black artist to win two Grammys.
  3. In 1963, Marian Anderson became the first recipient of the Freedom Medal.
  4. In 1969, the Biggest Harlem Cultural Festival took place.
  5. In 2014, James Brown became the most sampled artist of all time.
  6. In 2018, Kendrick Lamar became the first rapper to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Another interesting fact is that African American music consists of many  genres including  

  1. Blues
  2. Country
  3. Folk
  4. Hip-Hop/Rap
  5. Military 
  6. Jazz
  7. Rhythm & Blues
  8. Rock & Roll
  9. Sacred Music (Gospel)

I Love Gospel Music

Gospel music and Christian Hip Hop are my favorite genres of music. One scripture that helps explain why comes from the Old Testament.   

“Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of his wondrous works” (Psalm 105:2, English Standard Version). I love Gospel music because it gives me a chance to praise God and hear testimonies from the artist.

These factors help increase my faith when feeling discouraged, anxious, or worried about whatever I am going through. 

Another reason why I love Gospel music is that songs from this genre allow me to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-19). 

We live in a society where sex, drugs, misogyny, and other idols dominate much of music. Listening to these songs makes people more prone to conduct themselves in ways appealing to the flesh. 

By consuming Christ-centered music, believers can keep their minds on and experience the joy of the Lord which is our strength (Nehemiah 1:8). For believers who love rap, Christian hip-hop offers an inspirational alternative that glorifies God in a culturally relevant way. 

Along with experiencing the joy of the Lord, Gospel music allows listeners to meditate on scripture. This is because many writers create choruses inspired directly by scripture.

Psalm 73:26 stays on my mind thanks to “Strength of My Heart” by Cellus Hamilton. I also know 2 Chronicles 7:14 by heart because my favorite artist (Fred Hammond) sings the scripture in his song “If My People.”

Ways to Celebrate

Listen to Black Artists and Music Podcast

One way to celebrate this month is by listening to your favorite African American artists and genres. If you do not have a favorite artist or genre, listen to NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert.

This month’s performances feature artists like Brittney Spencer, Kierra Sheard, and Chaka Chan.

Along with supporting listening to artist’s music, you can also listen to music-based podcasts. Doing so will provide insight into the experiences, trials, and triumphs sparking an artist’s creativity.

One podcast I recommend is The Breakfast Club. The reason why is they conduct great interviews with artists that may compel you to listen to their music. 

The Breakfast Club also interviews politicians, community activists, and other individuals giving consumers a balanced listening experience.

Make a Donation and Share Your Gift

During an interview on a music podcast, you may hear someone mention the financial challenges those in the arts face. You can ease their burden by donating to an artist or music program.

If you are an African American artist, use June as a month to intentionally promote your content. Whether you are a professional or do music as a hobby, share your art with the world.

The Lord blesses believers with gifts to glorify his name and does not want you to hide them (Matthew 25:14-30). God uses my gift of spoken word to inspire listeners on SoundCloud and YouTube.

Are there any ways you celebrate Black Music Month? I would love to hear your thoughts. Your feedback is greatly appreciated!   

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