Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Purple Rain, Purple Rain

On June 7 in Black History...

In 1958, PRINCE Rogers Nelson was born. Prince has so far produced ten platinum albums and thirty Top 40 singles during his career, to date. Prince founded his own recording studio and label; writing, self-producing and playing most, or all, of the instruments on his recordings. In addition, Prince has been a "talent promoter" for the careers of Sheila E.Carmen ElectraThe Time and Vanity 6, and has written songs for these artists and others

My favorite Prince song is of course, Purple Rain.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Top 20 Most Successful Black Companies in 2011

@blackenterprise: Keep Your Eyes On The #Top20 Most Successful Black Companies in 2011 http://su.pr/3znvTy #WatchandLearn #BEnext

Thursday, June 2, 2011

June is African-American Music Appreciation Month

As President Obama declared June as African-American Music Appreciation Month (see the official proclamation at the end of the post), we want to recognize the many contributions of past and current African-American influences to the music of the world.  Tune in next week for a celebration of my favorite, gospel music.  But first let's take a look at the history of the celebration:

"It is difficult to imagine American music without the rich and continuing innovations of African Americans. Even as today’s hip-hop and rap owe much to the call-and-response patterns that black slaves brought from Africa, virtually every other American musical form similarly has been leavened by African-American traditions and innovations.

Spurred by the songwriter and record producer Kenny Gamble, President Jimmy Carter in 1979 designated June as Black Music Month. 
The original African Americans were transported across the Atlantic to lives of involuntary servitude. They mostly came from West Africa, where call-and-response interaction between speaker and listener was common in civic and government gatherings, religion and music. As slaves, black Americans could not participate in government, but they were quick to adapt their native culture to Christian religious services, and to church music.
Church-going slaves of the 17th and 18th centuries would repeat, in call-and-response fashion, the hymns and psalms sung by the service leader. In the plantation fields of the American South, they employed these patterns in a variety of work songs, field hollers and other kinds of black folk music. Often improvised and typically syncopated (stressing the weak beat), these forms would develop in many directions and exert a strong influence on much of the nation’s popular music.
Slave religion also spurred the "Negro Spiritual," often called a “jubilee.” Among the most beloved spirituals were Swing LowSweet Chariot and Roll Jordan Roll. Beginning in 1871, the touring Fisk Jubilee Singers, (based at Fisk University, a historically black college founded in Nashville, Tennessee in 1866) brought the spiritual, arranged for chorus, to much of the United States and Europe. The exposure helped catalyze the fusion of African American and other forms of popular music.

By the beginning of the 20th century, African-American music had evolved into new forms. Composers like Scott Joplin and Eubie Blake pioneered a piano style combining a regularly accented left (bass) hand beat with a highly syncopated right (treble) melody. It was called ragtime, and was one the genres that later combined to form jazz. Compositions like Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag (1899) transcended racial divisions and deepened the influence of black roots on American music.
At about the same time, the field hollers, work songs and other black music of the South gave birth to the blues. Incorporating a call and response pattern in lyrics (a-a-b pattern, "a" line repeated) or between vocals and instrumentation (often "slide guitar," applying a round metal tube rather than fingers to the guitar strings) and unique harmonic progressions, blues artists sang of sadness and melancholy in love. W.C. Handy's Memphis Blues (1912) is a leading example. Artists like B.B. King and John Lee Hooker continue the tradition. The blues, in its many regional (Chicago blues, Memphis blues, Delta blues) and other variations, remains popular in its own right, and its influence is apparent in the development of jazz, rock and later musical forms.
The black church remained a fecund source of musical inspiration. By 1930, elements of the blues and old Negro spirituals were crystallizing into gospel music. Thomas A. Dorsey, music director at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago, was instrumental in popularizing the sound, which featured a full-throated vocalist accompanied by choir, piano or organ, and by energetic audience participation, often vigorous rhythmic handclapping. Mahalia Jackson, who would perform at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy and the funeral of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., frequently is cited as the finest vocalist of the gospel tradition.
Gospel placed a direct imprint on later, more secular forms of black music, like rhythm and blues (R & B) and soul. Artists like Aretha Franklin (a preacher's daughter), Sam Cooke (a preacher's son) and the Reverend Al Green each incorporated gospel elements into their personal, form-transcending styles.
These African-American sounds are a treasured part of the nation's cultural heritage. They continue to bring great enjoyment to millions. Their influence spread even further through two of America's most popular musical idioms -- jazz and rock -- and then into the new music of the 21st century."
Read more: http://www.america.gov/st/washfile-english/2006/June/20060616162723jmnamdeirf0.6625635.html#ixzz1O8FNKmMz

Here's this year's official presidential proclamation here:

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

Presidential Proclamation--African-American Music Appreciation Month

- - - - - - -
     The music of our Nation has always spoken to the condition of our people and reflected the diversity of our Union. African-American musicians, composers, singers, and songwriters have made enormous contributions to our culture by capturing the hardships and aspirations of a community and reminding us of our shared values. During African-American Music Appreciation Month, we honor the rich musical traditions of African-American musicians and their gifts to our country and our world.
     From the cadenced hums of spirituals to the melodies of rhythm and blues, African-American music has been used to communicate, to challenge, to praise, and to uplift in times of both despair and triumph. The rhythmic chords embedded in spirituals have long expressed a deep faith in the power of prayer, and brought hope to slaves toiling in fields. The soulfulness of jazz and storytelling in the blues inspired a cultural renaissance, while the potent words of gospel gave strength to a generation that rose above the din of hatred to move our country toward justice and equality for all.
     Today, African-American musicians continue to create new musical genres and transform the scope of traditional musical formats. The artistic depth of soul, rock and roll, and hip-hop not only bring together people across our Nation, but also energize and shape the creativity of artists around the world. The contributions of African-American composers and musicians to symphony, opera, choral music, and musical theater continue to reach new audiences and encourage listeners to celebrate fresh interpretations of these and other genres.
     In cherished songs passed down through generations and innovative musical fusions crafted today, African-American music continues to transcend time, place, and circumstance to provide a source of pride and inspiration for all who hear its harmonies. This month, we celebrate the legacy of African-American music and its enduring power to bring life to the narrative of our Nation.
     NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2011 as African-American Music Appreciation Month. I call upon public officials, educators, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate activities and programs that raise awareness and foster appreciation of music which is composed, arranged, or performed by African Americans.
     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

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