By Darlene Donloe
June is Black Music Month and what better time to celebrate its rich history.
For centuries, Black musicians, singers, writers and producers have made incredible contributions to the music industry.
This is the month set aside to pay homage to all those individuals who, through their music, have made us smile, laugh, cry, dance, tap our feet, clap our hands and swivel our hips.
President Jimmy Carter officially designated the month of celebration on June 7, 1979. It was during a reception at The White House, which featured performances by Chuck Berry, Billy Eckstine, Little Richard and Andre Crouch.
On May 31, President Obama declared the month of June 2016 “African-American Music Appreciation Month” in a presidential proclamation. Although June was first deemed “Black Music Month” by Jimmy Carter and campaigned for by songwriter and producer Kenneth Gamble back in 1979, as the nation’s first Black president, Barack Obama felt strongly that an official proclamation was more appropriate.
The proclamation calls Black music “among the most innovative and powerful art the world has ever known.” President Obama also called upon “public officials, educators, and people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate activities and programs that raise awareness and foster appreciation of music that is composed, arranged, or performed by African Americans.”
I caught up with some celebrities and asked them the following: If you had to listen to only one artist’s music for the rest of your life, whose would it be?
JAIME FOXX – Prince, Prince! He was so amazing! Prince. I got a chance to see the When Doves Cry Tour. He was so amazing. I met Prince Dec. 31, 1998, in Las Vegas. At the time I was doing a show at Studio 54. I look up and see Prince and start crying. Oh, snap, I start crying. Man, you know who you are. I’m marching, didn’t know what to say, started singing. I begged for a picture. This is my moment. The Time is playing and then Morris Day says, ‘break it down a little bit’. He comes out in a purple feathered like bomber jacket and black pants and a huge purple guitar and Gucci shades. He did a guitar solo. Man!
KERRY WASHINGTON (Scandal) – The soundtrack to Hamilton, the musical.
BEBE WINANS (Born For This) – Gladys Knight. No question. She’s everything.
MARLON WAYANS (Marlon) – Michael Jackson. You can listen to the Jackson 5 and to Michael Jackson.
KOFI SIRIBOE – (Queen Sugar) Frank Ocean.
JOE MORTON (Scandal) – Cassandra Wilson because her sensibility of jazz and blues is, just in my mind, brilliant. Her arrangers are brilliant. I love her work.
|Vivica A. Fox|
VIVICA A. FOX – Michael Jackson – Without a doubt. I love his music. I was a huge fan. I’m still a huge fan. We grew up with Michael Jackson. His legacy will last you all year. It goes from his childhood to his solo career. It’s inspiring!
|David Alan Grier|
DAVID ALAN GRIER (The Carmichael Show) Johnny Hartman
DAWN-LYEN GARDNER (Queen Sugar) Nina Simone.
|Amber Stevens West|
AMBER STEVENS WEST (The Carmichael Show) Michael Jackson.
|Isiah Whitlock Jr.|
ISIAH WHITLOCK JR. (Cars 3) Prince!
OBBA BABATUNDE – Nancy Wilson because when I hear her sing, she rearranges the molecules in my body.
AKBAR GBAJABIAMILA (American Ninja Warrior) Michael Jackson. It doesn't get any better than Michael Jackson.