Music, Movies, TV – An Insider’s Perspective

Tag: Black Music Appreciation Month

In Celebration of Black Music Appreciation Month

On May 31, 2022, President Biden issued a proclamation to reestablish the annual month-long observance and celebration of Black music that was created by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.

The official name of this month has changed throughout the years from “Black Music Month” to “African American Music Appreciation Month” and by popular demand President Biden has brought the name back to what the music industry and the people responded best to…..

“Black Music Appreciation Month”

Black people in America have created or inspired many genres and sub-genres of music. Since 1979, we have celebrated all these genres in the month of June. Although there are talented Black artists in ALL genres of music, in June we celebrate R&B (rhythm and blues/soul music), Gospel, Jazz, Blues, Funk, Rap and Hip-Hop.

When I was the Black Music Buyer in the late eighties for Wherehouse Entertainment, my title changed a bit through the years as the music industry amended the name of the overall genre of music. In the 90’s my job title changed to “Urban Music Buyer”. There were many mixed reviews of this new “industry standard” name so some people continued to call it Black Music. Others were “only OK” with calling it Urban Music. The entire Black community never fully embraced this “Urban Music” moniker. I hated changing my business card to “Director of Urban Music.” There were several high-profile music conferences where “I forgot” my business card back at the office (wink-wink). I would shake hands, take photos, and hug people but I often just verbally gave out my contact info.

In June as Black Music Month emerged you would see and hear “Black Music Month” in independent music stores and radio stations that were within the Black communities. In some of the BIG chain music stores and cross-over radio stations you would hear the term “Urban Music Month.”

Just in case you are wondering what a cross-over station is?

“A cross-over radio station or program plays music or artists that appeal to diverse types of audiences or people. You could hear a mix of genres on these stations that appeal to all”

A few music chains continued to embrace the term “Black Music Month” if their customers requested or demanded them to keep it.

Of course, Wherehouse Music was known as “the place” where you could find an amazing selection of Black music, so I was not ready to just abandon the term so easily. Eventually we did change the store signing to Urban Music and then I occasionally “remembered” to bring my business card to conferences (LOL).

The term “Urban Music” had a good run until someone decided it was time to change the “umbrella genre” once again to “African American Music.”

So, in June 2016 President Obama officially proclaimed June as “African American Music Appreciation Month”.

In June 2021, President Biden proclaimed June as “Black Music Appreciation Month. Whether you embrace the term African American or Black American, I feel you will appreciate his proclamation of 2021 and 2022

Here is the “Black Music Appreciation Month” proclamation of 2021

A Proclamation on Black Music Appreciation Month, 2021 | The White House

And… Here is the “Black Music Appreciation Month” proclamation of 2022

A Proclamation on Black Music Appreciation Month, 2022 | The White House

During “Black Music Appreciation Month” artists and record labels release titles that you may have been waiting for all-year long. We often see special collectors’ packages released to commemorate B.M.A.M. You will see more artists out on tour and performing live shows in June and throughout the summer. June is usually the kick-off to ALL the HOT NEW TITLES that will dominate dancefloors, parties, family reunions, and radio through the summer.

Have I got a surprise for you!

If you are a vinyl junkie, collector, or hip-hop fan you are going to want to check back tomorrow for a contest in which you can WIN a SUPER DELUXE EDITION of the brand new 25th ANNIVERSARY NOTORIOUS B.I.G. “LIFE AFTER DEATH” on 8 LP’s.

Someone is going to be VERY HAPPY when they WIN and RECEIVE this gem!

The Weeknd

Look what you’ve done…

I can not wrap up Black Music Month without featuring one of the most important R&B singers, songwriters and producers of the last decade. Abel Makkonen Tesfaye is also known throughout the world as “The Weeknd.” Like several other major artists, The Weeknd began his climb to fame by releasing his music online. His first few songs were released anonymously.

In 2010 he posted a few songs on YouTube under the name “The Weeknd”. He says that his name came from “that one weekend” he decided to leave his family home in Toronto Canada and to never look back. He never needed to return home because…

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The Queen of Soul

Aretha Franklin gets my R.E.S.P.E.C.T. all year long…

…but there is NO Black Music Month celebration without celebrating the life and music of the Queen of Soul. Who has 2 films released on their life story in the same year, with an Oscar winner and an Oscar nominee portraying them?

Erivo “WAS” Aretha in the TV miniseries, “Genius: Aretha.” Jennifer Hudson “IS” Aretha in the film, “Respect”. Early press and reviews indicate that both ladies gave award winning performances as Aretha Franklin. I’ll link to these titles at the end.

There are many books, documentaries and videos of Aretha performing live. Aretha has been in the public eye since her first Gospel release in 1956 at the age of 14. In 1960 she was signed to Columbia Records…

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Kendrick Lamar

“Good Kid, M.A.D.D. City”

Kendrick Lamar was 16 when he launched his first mixtape in 2004. He rapped under the name K-Dot from 2003-2009. He wrote and rapped about what he knew best…the streets of the city he was raised in….Compton, California.

Like several of the Compton rap legends that came before him, he gave a clear and honest account of what was currently happening in Compton. He released 3 mixtapes as K-Dot and then decided to rap under his birth name of Kendrick Lamar. Using his real name was a bold statement since historically most rappers use nicknames or their “street name” from where they grew up. In 2009, with his fourth mixtape, Kendrick Lamar was somewhat reborn, using his birth name. He was also becoming one of the hottest mixtape rappers in the game.

His mixtapes garnered huge local success and soon he gained popularity in other areas.

One day while watching YouTube the NWA Rap-Star and iconic Producer, Dr. Dre came across a song by some guy named Kendrick Lamar.

The song was “Ignorance is Bliss” and it was enough to have Dre reach out to Kendrick to invite him to appear on his long-awaited and now infamous “Detox” album. Detox was supposed to be Dre’s EPIC follow-up to his 1999 classic album, “The Chronic”.

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Prince: Purple Rain

“Honey I know, I know, I know times are changing”

I suppose that everyone in the world knows about the Icon, Prince and his epic soundtrack “Purple Rain”, but I cannot write about Black Music Month without featuring the genius of Prince. Prince was brilliant within every genre he touched. The Purple Rain soundtrack defied genres. If you were a rock fan and listened to this album, it was rock. If you were a fan of funk music, Purple Rain was the funkiest soundtrack you ever heard. Purple Rain was the absolute best of whatever genre the listener (the fan) wanted it to be. Although his roots were in R&B and funk, there were also elements of rock, jazz, psychedelia, heavy metal and more on this album.

Since the album soared beyond genres, and Prince defied categorization the only place to truly file it in record stores was in Soundtracks and Pop. Remember the term pop is just short for POPULAR and…

…in 1984, two black artists ruled the POP CHARTS, Michael Jackson and Prince.

Both artists released their most successful and legendary albums in 1984.

If you go back and listen to every Prince record you will hear him integrate a wide variety of genres and sub-genres on all his recordings. He also had a unique talent and way of mixing the many genres together all on the same album and sometimes even within songs. Prince could go between sexy and gospel flavored songs in the same recording session. His music had something for everyone. Prince was gender-bending, thought provoking….and always SEXY.

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J Cole

2014 Forest Hills Drive

It was 2007 when J Cole released his debut mixtape. He released two more phenomenally successful mixtapes before he was signed by Jay Z to his Roc Nation label in 2009. When J Cole released his debut album “Cole World: The Sideline Story” in 2011, it entered the Billboard Top 200 chart at #1. This was an amazing accomplishment for this young and new rapper, singer, songwriter and producer. Yes, J Cole can do it all!

He released one more album, “Born Sinner” in 2013, that also topped the charts. But it was his third studio album, “2014 Forest Hills Drive” that earned him not only another chart-topping release but also a Grammy nomination in 2015 for Best Rap Album.

The name “2014 Forest Hills Drive” came from…

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Michael Jackson “Thriller”

It’s close to midnight — Something evil’s lurkin’ in the dark…

When Michael Jackson and his super producer Quincy Jones set out to make Thriller, everything was written and produced with the intent to be the BIGGEST album of all-time.

His previous album “Off the Wall” also achieved huge success but it was not nearly enough in the eyes of Michael Jackson. With his next and 6th studio album “Thriller”, Michael set a goal to release an album in which every song could be a hit single. Out of over 800 songs that were submitted by the top song writers of that time, nine songs were chosen for the album. Michael also wrote four of the songs that were HUGE hits on “Thriller”.

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Black Music Month

To Kick-off Black Music Appreciation Month, I feel it is important to begin with a few of our most iconic and legendary artists within the R&B, Hip-Hop, Jazz or Gospel genres. With that being said, I will begin with a few of my favorite artists of all-time. And at the end of my features or reviews, I just might include personal stories about my connection to some of the artists or their music.

Marvin Gaye…“What’s Going On”

Music historians view “What’s Going On” as one of the most important releases of the seventies. It was first released on May 21, 1971. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Marvin Gaye’s seminal release. Many critics and fans regard it as Marvin’s greatest and most important album. “What’s Going On” ranked number one on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the greatest albums of all time. Although it was not known at the time, this release is now considered to be a landmark event in music history.

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