African American Music Appreciation Month Still Relevant

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 6/30/2017, 7 a.m.
Without the beat of the drum, where would we be. Music started from the first beat and has spawned so ...

Without the beat of the drum, where would we be. Music started from the first beat and has spawned so many beats and songs of today. Always at the forefront of that beat were African Americans. The month of June celebrates the creativity, wealth, culture, and the beat of Black music.

First called Black Music Month when then President Jimmy Carter and later receiving a name change by President Barack Obama to African American Music Appreciation Month. “A vital part of our Nation’s proud heritage, African-American music exemplifies the creative spirit at the heart of American identity and is among the most innovative and powerful art the world has ever known,” President Obama wrote. He continued with, “It accompanies us in our daily lives, and it has rung out at turning points in our history and demonstrated how our achievements as a culture go hand-in-hand with our progress as a Nation. During African-American Music Appreciation Month, we honor the artists who, through this music, bring us together, show us a true reflection of ourselves, and inspire us to reach for the harmony that lies beyond our toughest struggles.”

Pioneers of the first celebrations recall that initially Black Music Month was about increasing the growth of the economy as it related to Black music. Under the slogan “Black Music is Green,” the dollar was tracked in association with Black music for the first time. House Resolution 509 was later drafted in 1979 to officially stamp legislation recognizing the month.

After exceeding the goal of showcasing the economic growth of the Black music. It was time to show some appreciation for the art form. Soon a lack of respect and unity would soon lead to the demise of the organization according to Walt Williams as told to Billboard.com. That negatively affected the state of Black music today. Fewer Black executives at companies meant fewer opportunities for artists and left many unemployed. Black Music Month took on a new role of preserving the music and its heritage.

Today President Donald Trump followed presidents before him proclaiming the first African American Appreciation Month of his administration. “During June, we pay tribute to the contributions African Americans have made and continue to make to American music. The indelible legacy of these musicians who have witnessed our Nation's greatest achievements, as well as its greatest injustices give all Americans a richer, deeper understanding of American culture. Their creativity has shaped every genre of music, including rock and roll, rhythm and blues, jazz, gospel, hip-hop, and rap,” he said in an official statement.

On a local circuit several celebration have happened to honor the month. With just a few days of June left, honor African American Music Month by visiting the art exhibition featuring art works of black musicians by Leonard Freeman and Israel McCloud and a photo exhibition. The exhibition also honors some of the “gone but not forgotten” musicians who have shared their talents with both the Community Music Center and the City of Houston over the past 37 years– Kinny Abair, Lavada (Dr. Hepcat) Durst, Conrad Johnson, Mary Kaya and Derrick Lewis. The exhibition is presented in association with the Community Music Center of Houston, Texas Southern University Music Department and The Collective .

It is still important to recognize the contribution of African Americans as it relates to music so that the generations will know the history behind the music and keep it alive and well.