African American Music Appreciation Month

The month of June provides a time to appreciate and celebrate African American musicians, composers, singers, and songwriters. This observation began on June 7, 1979, when President Jimmy Carter decreed June to be Black Music Month.

The month of June provides a time to appreciate and celebrate African American musicians, composers, singers, and songwriters. This observation began on June 7, 1979, when President Jimmy Carter decreed June to be Black Music Month.

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Mary Lou Williams | Artopia
Mary Lou Williams | Artopia

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Mary Lou Williams was born in Atlanta, Georgia on May 10, 1910 and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A prodigy, she taught herself to play the piano at the age of four. Williams could hear a piece...
Celia Cruz | Artopia
Celia Cruz | Artopia

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Celia Cruz was born and raised in the working class Santos Suarez neighborhood of Havana, Cuba on October 21, 1924. Brought up in a musical family, she began singing in local contests and later...
Louis Armstrong | Artopia
Louis Armstrong | Artopia

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Louis Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901 and raised in the Storyville district of New Orleans, Louisiana. As a child he was a street singer and learned to play the coronet while in reform school...
Jazz | Gullah Music
Jazz | Gullah Music

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Jazz music was born out of the blues. The key element was syncopation (syn-co-pa-tion) that stressed the off beats of the rhythm. In the same way that Gullah language is a mixture of African and...
Blues | Gullah Music
Blues | Gullah Music

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After the Civil War and emancipation, freed men and women struggled to find work and make a new life for their families. The songs about these difficult times were called the blues, a musical style...
Country | Gullah Music
Country | Gullah Music

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Country music as we know it today grew out of blues and folk music. In country music’s earliest form, southern musicians both white and black, created music for the working class that told stories...
Reggae | Gullah Music
Reggae | Gullah Music

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Reggae music is a Jamaican style of music that has roots in African music and rhythm and blues, or early rock and roll. Reggae songs are usually about social issues, politics and the Rastafarian...
Work Song | Gullah Music
Work Song | Gullah Music

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Enslaved Africans sang songs as they worked to help keep the pace of the task they were doing. A leader called out a verse or yell and others responded. This is the call-and-response singing tradition...
Hip Hop/Rap | Gullah Music
Hip Hop/Rap | Gullah Music

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African call-and-response patterns and improvisation survived the Middle Passage and became two of the basic elements of one of today’s most popular forms of music. In the 1970s, rap music began in...
Rock and Roll | Gullah Music
Rock and Roll | Gullah Music

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Blues and country music contributed to a style called rhythm and blues. This was an early form of what we now call rock and roll. It appealed to a younger audience that liked to dance to the sounds of...