The influence of African-American music on American music can’t be overestimated. Since June is African-American Music Appreciation Month, I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation. But, I don’t want to focus solely on the
Instead, I want to look at how these musical styles impact our society and culture. In doing this, I hope to help you get a deeper appreciation for the contributions of African-American music in shaping American culture. (That’s not to mention the influence it has and continues to have internationally.)
Now I should say that this ISN’T going to be an exhaustive list or history. For that, I’d recommend that you check out Smithsonian’s online archive on African American music. Instead, I want to highlight some specific genres and musical styles that are still influential today.
Reflecting on the History That Is Part of Our History
As I wrote last week about surf music, I think it’s interesting to view society’s history through the lens of culture. So looking at these musical styles within the context of American history, I think that it’s possible to hear the American melting pot in action. In particular, you can hear the voices coming together of those who didn’t necessarily choose to come to America by their own free will.
In these musical styles, you can hear the creation and expression of one’s own unique voice. Yet it is a voice influenced by the rhythms and sounds of one’s cultural past. And the result of this has had a great influence on America’s greater cultural identity.
My Own Reflections on How African-American Music Has Influenced Me
In this video below, I share three African-American artists who have been influential in my own life and development. I’d love to know who has been influential in yours. Share your responses in the comments down below.