June is Black Music Month, so show some real appreciation
Whether it’s Sly and the Family Stone’s reminder that we’re all “Everyday People,” or Aretha telling us it’s all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T, music makes any day better. As we celebrate Black Music this month, please join me in a round of applause for the soundtrack of our lives.
Black Music Appreciation Month rolls around every June and I’m grateful to President Jimmy Carter who named it such. I figure we owe Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, and dozens of other songwriters a huge debt for the classic songs they’ve written that make us smile and remember whenever we hear them.
In an all-star tribute to Lionel Richie a couple of years back, country music stars “covered” some of his best-known hits and they sounded as wonderful with a little twang as they did when he performed them himself. No matter the genre, there’s a song for every celebration or mood.
In the movie “Cadillac Records” a story about Chicago’s Chess label which helped popularize the blues and Rock N’ Roll, we see the trials and tribulations of legends like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Little Walter, and Etta James. The label’s owner encouraged the singers to sing the blues, not live them. This was good advice, but the general consensus is you have to experience music to fully “get” it.
Growing up in the South, I listened to whatever came on Nashville’s megawatt station, WLAC, and Memphis’ WDIA. I remember WLAC’s legendary announcers and record specials. We’d listen to the music and save our okra picking and cotton chopping money so we could buy a “special” collection of five or six 45s that would come by mail C.O.D. (cash on delivery).
We could hardly keep our minds on the tasks at hand while waiting for the mailman to honk his horn to signal the package had arrived. We’d enjoy the five good records and ignore the dud that was always included. We danced until we dropped listening to Earth, Wind & Fire, The Temptations, Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, and others.
I planned to marry that cutie Jermaine Jackson of the Jackson Five, but he ran off and married Berry Gordy’s daughter and broke my heart. We recall major dates/milestones with the music—where we were, what we were doing, who we were with–I remember where I was when Otis Redding was killed in 1967 and what I was doing the Sunday Marvin Gaye died.
To reflect on and salute Black music and the artists and professionals who created it—producers, musicians, promoters, station owners, etc.—is as important today as it was 42 years ago when President Carter started it. Whether you feel like dancing fast, slow, or in between, there’s Black music to accompany you. If you’re lonely and it’s another Saturday night and you just got paid, Sam Cooke’s got something with your name on it.
Black Church music continues to evolve and prompt conversations about instruments, praise and worship, classic hymns, A cappella, or choirs–and which we like best. Whether it’s superstars Andre Crouch, Mahalia Jackson, Kirk Franklin, CeCe Winans, or longtime gospel host Dr. Bobby Jones, we cherish them and are grateful for the precious gift they share with us.
Black music is a soul offering, that perfect tune that gets stuck in your head all day and lifts your spirit like Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Your favorites are probably my favorites, and even if they’re not, turn up the volume, hit the repeat button, and make it a great day.
Who is your favorite musician, album or song? Share your favorites on Twitter and Facebook at #drbondhopson. I’m all ears!
Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.