All Articles Tagged "black music"
I’m a big fan of Kelly Rowland’s “Chasing Destiny” on BET. There’s something honest about the show which we don’t often see in other singing competitions.
Now y’all know these producers and editors can make almost any situation appear real. But if I had any questions about Kelly’s true intentions and the goals for the girls, they were made clear last night.
Those of you who have been watching, know that after auditions, Kelly and Frank Gatson chose the first round of girls. After a few days of rehearsal, Frank, without Kelly’s permission, invited three girls they’d originally dismissed to come back to compete for one of the slots in their girl group. One of the three girls invited back was Jennifer. Jennifer is White. And, as a backup singer for Kelly Clarkson, exceptionally talented. Kelly gave each of the girls, old and new, an opportunity to sing by themselves, and Jennifer shut it down. Interestingly enough, it was the three new girls they brought back that were my favorites. They had the strongest voices, were able to emote the most powerfully and just seemed more polished, Jennifer included.
Though her sound wasn’t pop or R&B or traditionally Black-sounding, it was soulful. She was singing a cover of someone else’s song and I believed every word she sang.
Still, at the end of the episode Kelly and Frank sent her home.
In one of her confessional interviews, Kelly told cameras that Black culture is rich. And while there are some people who are so enamored with the culture they teach themselves to imitate it, until it becomes second nature, Jennifer was not one of those people. Still, she had a lot to offer. Both Frank and Kelly, and many of the people watching at home, including myself, are convinced that Jennifer is a star.
But she wouldn’t be able to shine in the type of group that Kelly and Frank are looking to assemble. Kelly said, very explicitly in the camera that they’re trying to make a Black girl group with a Black sound.
I looked at the television screen and shouted, “Well, alright.”
Jennifer didn’t walk away empty-handed. Because she’s so talented, Kelly and Frank told her that while she wasn’t the one for this group, they would love to form an entirely different group around her. And Jennifer wisely and appreciatively accepted the offer.
All’s well that ends well.
But the moment was so important to me because it’s not all that often that you see Black people, even Black artists themselves, stand up and take a stand to not only protect but to promote Black art. In a country, culture and world that has no problem straight stealing for us, Kelly Rowland, Frank Gatson, and all Black artists, within the music industry and elsewhere, have every right to fight to further the legacy of Black art, made and presented by Black people.
It’s drastically important. And particularly nice to see as it pertains to Black women.
I was happy to witness that moment, happy that BET was brave enough to show that, and hoping that Kelly inspires a few other Black artists to do the same.
Just yesterday, we reported about the way Tank had to check his friend and group member Tyrese. When Tyrese issued a challenge to R&B singers asking them to produce a full R&B album with no Hip Hop features, while conveniently standing in front of his Billboard Top 200 albums plaque, Tank didn’t take too kindly to it.
Tank chastised Tyrese for presenting the challenge as if he were the only artist producing R&B music. He mentioned people like Anthony Hamilton, Jill Scott and more. He said Tyrese’s success is great but it was clear that he only posted the video and issued the challenge as a way to brag.
I read his comment and thought: facts.
But Tank, being that he has an actual relationship with Tyrese–a close one–, felt like he should have handled the situation better.
He issued this apology to both Tyrese and the entire R&B community.
I told y’all, I thought Tank was absolutely justified in checking Tyrese but I also agree that social media might not have been the place for it and it takes a big person to publicly admit when they’ve done something wrong.
Tyrese is obviously feeling himself these days. His independently released R&B album Black Rose did exceptionally well. So well, in fact, that six months after its debut, Tyrese is still bragging about it. He posted this video, conveniently standing in front of his Billboard 200 Top R&B Album plaque, issuing a challenge to real R&B singers.
Here’s my challenge to every R&B singer in the game, do a pure R&B album with no Hip Hop features. A pure R&B album. Can you do it?
Interestingly enough, Black Rose featured Snoop Dogg, a rapper, on the track “Dumb Sh-t” but apparently, that’s neither here nor there.
Well, one R&B artist didn’t take too kindly to the challenge. And he just so happens to be very close to Tyrese.
Tank, who is a member of Tyrese’s R&B super group TGT, and also featured on Black Rose, wasn’t really here for this challenge.
He left a comment on Fameolous expressing his distaste.
“no the challenge is shade! None of us have heard of Anthony Hamilton, Jill Scott, Alicia Keys, etc!! It’s not a challenge he’s just indirectly flaunting his success!..lol. Which is fine but don’t act like you the only one doing R&B Music!.. lol.”
Yes, Tank tell the truth please!
Y’all know I’m personally not here for Tyrese so I appreciate Tank for calling a spade a spade. This is all about bravado not any particular crusade for R&B music as Tyrese would have us believe.
Now, might Tank be a little salty that his solo album didn’t sell all that well? Perhaps. But he also knows Tyrese pretty well and is probably able to see through all the bull he likes to present as gospel.
There are plenty of “pure R&B singers” still in the game. Many of which have already completed Tyrese’s “challenge.” And more than just the ones Tank named. It’s insulting to his fellow peers if you ask me.
I’m sure all the REAL R&B singers in the game will watch this video and roll their eyes. They’ve been doing this. And just now that Tank has finally gotten some deserved shine, after over 20 years in the game, he wants to brag like it’s a feat never been accomplished before. Stop it. Particularly when the promotion of that album was a bit nefarious. (To give you the short version, Tyrese was stealing people’s Facebook videos, uploading them as his own and then hyperlinking the website to buy Black Rose.) Shady boots.
Either way, what do you think about Tyrese’s challenge and Tank’s response to it?
Black History Month is here y’all! And I know I’m excited. As much as our history is hidden, twisted or completely disregarded, I always take great pleasure in learning something new and wonderful about our people. And being that this is a Black women’s site, we’ll be featuring Black women who’ve changed the world in one way or another but somehow failed to get the recognition they deserved.
And today, that lady is Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
While the mainstream would have you believe that Rock and Roll was created by an Elvis Presley type, the truth of the matter is, the fundamentals of the genre were started by Black people. The genre was propelled by people like Little Richard, (He jokes about not getting his just due, but he’s telling the truth.) and Chuck Berry. But guess who Little Richard and Chuck Berry list as one of their favorite singers and greatest influence: Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
So who is this woman?
Tharpe was born Rosetta Nubin in Cotton Plant, Arkansas on March 20, 1915. And like the name of her town suggests, her parents, Katie Bell Nubin and Willis Atkins, were cotton pickers. Though little is known about her father, both of her parents had a musical background. Her mother Katie, was a musician, singer as well as a preacher in the COGIC denomination. COGIC was different from other Christian sects at that time because it encouraged rhythmic music and allowed women to preach in church. Rosetta, following in her parents’ footsteps, started singing and playing the guitar at four and was labeled a musical prodigy. By six, she and her mother were traveling throughout the south on an evangelical tour.
In the mid 1920’s, Tharpe and her mother relocated to Chicago, Illinois where they continued to perform religious concerts, occasionally performing at conventions throughout the country.
It wasn’t long before Rosetta had created a name for herself, particularly since there weren’t that many Black, female guitarists during the time. At 19, Rosetta married a COGIC preacher named Thomas Tharpe and he began traveling with her and her mother. The two weren’t married long; and Rosetta would eventually remarry (twice), but she kept the last name and called herself Sister Rosetta Tharpe when she took the stage.
In 1938, at 23, Tharpe moved to New York City where she recorded her first album with Decca Records. She recorded four songs, “Rock Me,” “That’s All,” “The Man and I” and “The Lonesome Road.” All of the songs became hits and Tharpe became the country’s first gospel artist to enjoy commercial success.
In December of that same year, she performed in Carnegie Hall. The performance was unique in that she performed her gospel music in front of a secular audience. And then there was the style of music. Her guitar playing, which blended blues and folk songs with a swing sound, had all the makings of the early Rock and Roll sound.
The audience responded favorably and Tharpe continued to gain more fame. She became a regular a Cab Calloway’s famous Cotton Club in Harlem.
Her songs called “Shout Sister Shout” and “I Want A Tall Skinny Papa” featured Tharpe playing the electric guitar for the first time. This specifically, was the sound that would turn up in Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley’s music.
In 1944, Tharpe recorded “Strange Things Happening Every Day.” The record showcased her clever lyrics, delivery and guitar skills. The song ended up being the first gospel song to make Billboard’s Harlem Hit Parade (later known as Race Records and finally, R&B). She would go on to do this several more times in her career. But the 1944 record has been credited as the “First rock and roll record.”
The next year, Little Richard was at the same venue as one of her concerts and Tharpe happened to hear him sing. Afterward, she invited him on the stage with her. It was his first public performance outside of church. Little Richard would later say that performance inspired him to pursue music as a career.
In the 1950’s Tharpe and her singing partner Marie Knight recorded several blues songs. The fact that she was doing secular music didn’t sit well with her gospel fans. And though she wanted to remain the in the church, her core audience had turned their backs on her. On the outs with some of her American fans, Tharpe booked a month-long tour in Europe.
In 1970, while still in Europe and on tour with Muddy Waters, she suddenly got sick and was rushed back to the United States. When she arrived, she suffered from a stroke and had to have her leg amputated as a side effect from diabetes complications. Despite the setback, Tharpe continued to perform.
In 1973, the day before she was scheduled to go to the studio to record, she had another stroke and passed away three days later on October 9, 1973. She was 58 years old.
Over 20 years after her death, in 1998, the United States Postal Service honored Tharpe with a commemorative stamp. And in 2007, she was inducted, posthumously into the Blues Hall of Fame.
In 1893 the Unique Quartet recorded a song called “Mama’s Black Baby Boy.” This pre-dated vinyl and was recorded on a wax-covered cylinder using technology invented by Thomas Edison. The 120-year-old recording, along with a second Unique Quartet song, “Who Broke the Lock (on the Henhouse Door)?” from 1896, are copies of the oldest known recording of a black vocal group in the U.S. And they were auctioned on Saturday for $1,100 and $1,900 respectively. There are only two copies left of “Mama’s Black Baby Boy,” a recording so rare and delicate that the auctioneer doesn’t dare try to play it, reports the Associated Press (via The Grio).
The recordings can only be played on a special cylinder player that was a predecessor to phonographs, said Troy Thibodeau, manager of Saco River Auction Co. Not only are cylinder recordings becoming rare, recordings of black artists are even rarer. One appraiser had estimated they’d go for $25,000 or more — apiece.
“They’re in fantastic shape,” Thibodeau said pre-auction. “All it takes is a little bit of heat or a little bit of cold, and these things are junk. So, for more than 100 years, someone really took care of these things and treasured them.”
The recordings were up for auction along with a number of other items, including a shirt owned by General Custer, the captain who famously died at Little Bighorn in 1876.
Finding rare music by black groups is extremely hard. “All pre-digital black sacred music is at risk. The cylinders are made from pressed, hardened wax and grow brittle and chipped with age. Vinyl 78s, 45s, and LPs were melted down and recycled as part of the war effort during World War II,” said Robert Darden, who’s a professor at Baylor University in Texas and working to save the music by digitizing existing vinyl recordings through the Black Music Restoration Project. He estimates that 75 percent of gospel music recorded on vinyl from 1940 to 1970 has disappeared.
Listen to the song “Mama’s Black Boy” below.
There’s no doubt that music is a form of self-expression. And many artists not only use the recording booth as a hit-making platform, but also as a medium to impact social change and connect with their fans across the globe.
In celebration of Black Music Month we decided to highlight a few songs that have made an impact on Black culture throughout history.
From James Brown’s 1968 classic, “I’m Black and I’m Proud” and Queen Latifah’s tribute to sisters, to Kanye West praising Jesus, each song’s message has gone on to resonate with legions of listeners.
Read, See and Listen more at BlackVoices.com
For most of us, Black Music Month is every month as we often swoon to the sounds of our favorite African-American musicians on our iPods. But have you ever wondered how June became the designed month for Black music? An interview conducted by The Root illuminates just how songwriter and producer Kenneth Gamble campaigned for Black Music Month in 1979.
When asked what motivated him along with broadcasters Ed Wright and Dyana Williams to lobby for Black Music Month, Gamble explained that the history of African-American music had been dulled by the merciless music industry; artists have had their songs and lyrics stolen.
With the emergence of Black Music Month, the music industry benefits in the “additional marketing dollars.” June is used as platform to promote artists and albums to advertise and sell black music in a decimating music economy.
“It’s still working,” Gamble says, “because right now we’re talking about something that stared 34 years ago.”
At the time, Jimmy Carter was in office and Gamble was part of the Black Music Association, which was an organization that helped educate young musical artists.
Gamble says he was able to convince Carter to jump-start Black Music Month because of a Black Music night at the White House. “It was a beautiful night on the White House lawn,” Gamble reminisces. He remembered legends such as Little Richard performed, as well as Billy Eckstine. “When you talk about jazz, the blues, and rhythm and blues, this is what America produced, and it has influenced many other types of music.”
Black Music Month isn’t just an African-American cultural commemoration, Gamble says, but an institution needed to promote great artists like Miles Davis or Bessie Smith. He does not want us forget the many great contributions Black talented artists have added to American music.
I usually never watch the Grammys and honestly wasn’t planning on doing so last night. But when my friend asked me if I was going to participate in the festivities at brunch, I decided since I was avoiding the cold, to check it out. The show itself had high and low moments. It wasn’t fabulous but it certainly wasn’t the most boring thing I’ve seen. So, whether you missed it or want to relive it, check out the most memorable moments. The asterisks represent high points of the night.
I’m sure black musicians get into the game wishing and hoping for that crossover money. It’s one thing to have a hit in the black community, but when your songs go mainstream, that’s a wider audience and even more money. Whether these artists wrote these songs knowing they would go over well with all audiences, we can’t tell. What we do know though, is that after a while, this songs became just as, if not even more popular with white folk. Now you’re more likely to hear these songs at your company Christmas party than in the…more racially homogenous clubs some black people frequent.
No Diggity- Blackstreet
For a while I was surprised when I’d hear white people sing all the lyrics to this song, considering much of Blackstreet’s fan base was primarily black. But back in the ’90’s black groups had the pop radio stations on lock. And this song was in heavy rotation. It’s no wonder it became something of an anthem, a karaoke classic. The song is still popular with white folk, as I just recently heard it the the new movie, Pitch Perfect.
Christmas was just yesterday and hopefully Santa has already visited your house; but we’re still in the mood for Christmas music, so we chose Eartha Kitt’s slightly sultry, definitely demanding wish list for Mr. Claus. It’s one of our favorites. Is this your song too?